According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least one in four U.S. adults suffers from arthritis. This means that there are approximately 54.5 million in the total adult population who have been diagnoses by doctors to suffer from this condition. This is characterized by intense joint pain and lack of physical activity. It is also related to mental and physical health concerns.
But, what exactly is arthritis? Do all aging adults have to suffer this condition? If you suffer from intense back pain, does it automatically mean you have arthritis?
Arthritis is not considered a disease; it is a condition of suffering from joint pain. There are a hundred types of arthritis but common symptoms are pain, swelling, stiffness of muscles, and slow and affected motion. It usually affects the daily activity of the person. It can be mild and severe, depending on the level of the condition. Arthritis is also the number one cause of disability in the U.S.
While it can be a mild condition, some serious cases lead to permanent changes in the joint structure of the person. It can also affect major organs like the heart, lungs, and kidneys.
Here are some common myths about arthritis:
Arthritis is only for old people.
Yes, it is common among senior citizens but even children can suffer from arthritis. The condition is called childhood arthritis or juvenile arthritis. This can cause permanent damage to a kid’s joints, which can affect his daily activities like walking or dressing up. This can even lead to permanent disability. Common symptoms are joint pain, fever, swelling, fatigue, loss of appetite, and struggle in daily activities.
The reason is associated with the weak immune system which caused inflammation to the joints. Up to now, there is no known cure for childhood arthritis.
Cracking joints will cause arthritis.
Don’t believe people when they tell you that cracking your knuckles will cause you severe joint pains. You should listen to them, though, if they tell you to stop because cracking your knuckles can affect your grip strength. Cracking knuckles will do no harm to your joints, though, and you will not suffer from arthritis by just doing so.
It is also a myth when they say washing your hands when you’re tired will cause you arthritis. It might be a good practice, though, to rest before taking a shower. Do a little stretching to relax your muscles and improve body circulation.
You are helpless with arthritis.
First, you can actually prevent or reduce the risk of suffering from arthritis. Remember that those who live a sedentary life are the ones usually suffering from joint pains. If you stay active by working out and by doing daily activities, you will likely have healthy joints. If you maintain your ideal weight, move around often and do stretching in between working, then you can reduce your risk of arthritis. Avoiding smoking is also one way of avoiding this condition.
What makes people helpless is when they experience symptoms and do nothing about it. If you observe that you are experiencing chronic joint pain and if it is already affecting your daily activities, it is time for you to consult a specialist.
But, there are people who refuse to seek consultation for fear of undergoing the MRI test. Some are claustrophobic who are uncomfortable with enclosed places. Don’t be afraid because they now scan patients with an open MRI. These open scanners are quieter and more child and claustrophobic-friendly. A technician can also assist during the procedure because of the open scanner.
Again, early diagnosis always lives. If the specialist is able to diagnose the type of arthritis you are suffering from, treatment can be provided earlier.
What can you do to prevent arthritis?
- If you have a history of arthritis in the family, it is better to consult with a primary physician. Tell your family’s medical history. Record your symptoms and how long you’ve been experiencing them.
- Stay active. A 5-minute stretching in between 30 minutes at work will already ease your muscle tension. This is important for people who have been working in front of their desks for hours. Even a short walk in your garden can do a lot.
- Try cycling, walking, or swimming now and then. You have to stick with one or two activities that will keep you moving regularly. It doesn’t have to be intense. You just have to stay active.
While all of us expect our bodies to deteriorate as we grow older, there are effective ways to delay it. The best way is to keep a healthy and active lifestyle. Move around, especially if you’ve been sitting for hours with your work-from-home setup. Or you will suffer the effect come your senior years. Say no to arthritis, and stay away from living a sedentary lifestyle.