How to Avoid Arthritis: Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis

Posted by Jessica Adams on

Have you experienced signs of arthritis?

Does pain from joint swelling keep you up at night, or do you have odd-looking bumps starting to form on your fingers?  Achy ankles, achy fingers, and achy knees; uh-oh these could be signs that you are developing arthritis. Early symptoms of arthritis should be a red flag. It is scary to think that things could get worse from here.

Arthritis can be defined as an inflammation that occurs to either one or more joints in your body.  This causes stiffness and pain that increases with age.  It is such a common term, and we hear it all the time, but what a lot of people do not know is that arthritis there are different types of arthritis.  The two most common types are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.  It is important to know the characteristics of these diseases and ways to prevent arthritis, so that onset and worsening symptoms do not progress.

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is one of the most common forms of arthritis.  Most often the onset is gradual and happens with age; combined with the wear and tear we put on our bodies.  Commonly one develops osteoarthritis of the hip, knees, hands, fingers, and spine.  Less frequently it affects the wrists, elbows, shoulders, and ankles.  History of injuries can also be a predicting factor of where one might develop this type of arthritis. The onset is slow, and the first signs of arthritis may be aches after performing physical work or exercise.  Once the arthritis progresses, symptoms range from pain in the joints; along with swelling or tenderness.  Stiffness after inactivity, flare ups after use of affected joint, and even the crunching sound of bone rubbing against bone.  So basically, as we get older the cartilage protecting our joints from damage and shock breaks down.  The cushion gets smaller and the stress on your joints increases causing the signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis to take control.  It can impact your everyday activities and make simple tasks much more challenging and painful.


How to Prevent Osteoarthritis

If you are experiencing signs of Osteoarthritis, or realize that you could be at risk, it is important to seek prevention methods immediately.  If you want to avoid crippling arthritis pain, maintaining a healthy weight is one of the most important things you can do.  If you are overweight you are at a higher risk for developing arthritis. More weight means more pressure and burden applied to your joints and the breakdown of cartilage. Inflammation is also triggered by excess weight as fat tissues create destructive proteins called cytokines.  To prevent excess weight, get physical.  Exercises for arthritis should be added to your daily routine and be sure choose healthier options when eating.  Shedding even a few pounds can decrease the physical strain on your joints marginally.  When trying to prevent arthritis it is imperative to pay close attention to areas that were injured in the past.  An injured joint is way more likely to develop arthritis than one that has not experienced any damage to the cartilage.  If you are being active, be sure to wear gear that will protect your vulnerable joints. Wrist braces give support to the wrist and thumb utilizing splints. Knee braces and compression sleeves are also available for protection.  When you are finished exercising try compressing joints with either heat or cold pads to ease any pain you may have acquired.  An arthritis glove is commonly used by people experiencing achy joints in their hands or wrists.  These gloves are designed with breathable lightweight material that can be worn for long periods of time. They apply compression to increase blood flow and circulation throughout the hands and swollen joints; the gloves provide relief from stiffness and pain and aid in preventing arthritis in hands. Preventing arthritis means taking care of yourself.   Maintain a healthy weight, develop healthy eating habits and be sure to monitor and protect your sore joints.



Rheumatoid Arthritis

Another common type of arthritis people suffer from is Rheumatoid Arthritis.  These symptoms are usually more severe than the ones associated with Osteoarthritis.  Treating rheumatoid arthritis is difficult. It is actually categorized as an autoimmune disease; which means that the immune system, for some reason, gets confused and attacks the joints in the body.  The causes of rheumatoid arthritis are unknown, but some doctors believe the confusion is caused by bacteria or a virus.  Joint damage is extremely prevalent in Rheumatoid Arthritis and is caused by inflammation from the immune system’s attack.  Signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis may come gradually, but they may also occur suddenly.  They are characterized by stiffness and swelling that starts in the morning and continues for hours; sometimes lasting the entire day.  Rheumatoid Arthritis can affect a single joint, but is more commonly known to inflict on multiple joints at the same time.  Hands, wrists, elbows, shoulders, knees, ankles, feet, jaws, and necks are the more commonly perpetrated joints.  Rheumatoid arthritis nodules are lumps on the skin that form over joint areas that receive large amounts of pressure.  Fatigue, weight loss, and loss of appetite can also be present in these arthritis patients.  This can be scary especially because we do not know an exact way on how to avoid rheumatoid arthritis.  It can cause a fever or rash and dangerously involve the heart, lungs, and eyes. It has the unique trait of inflicting a symmetrical pattern of pain.  This means if your right wrist is experiencing joint pain, it is likely that you will feel the same pain in your left wrist. Daily activities such as working, walking, or driving may be compromised at the development of rheumatoid Arthritis.


How to Prevent Rheumatoid Arthritis

Living with arthritis is a literal pain, and preventing rheumatoid arthritis is a bit tricky.  Since the cause is still unknown, we know little about how to prevent rheumatoid arthritis.  If you feel that you may display signs, early intervention is the best attack.  Although there is no ultimate rheumatoid arthritis cure, doctors can help diagnose and aggressively treat this disease to delay serious side effects or severe joint damage later on.  Just like Osteoarthritis; it is recommended to stay active.  Gentle stretching and exercises can make a load of difference.  It is better to avoid activities that are higher impact on your joints; such as running.  These only increase joint pain and cartilage breakdown. Swimming is a great way to exercise without adding pressure to your joints. Exercise is important to keep your body strong and healthy to combat these side effects. However, with activity you must also rest.  Rest is a great prevention tactic.  If you are experiencing early flare ups or inflammation, stay off your joints. Working through the pain will only increase further impairment or damage to the cartilage. Finding the healthy balance between activity and rest that works for you is imperative.  Making healthy eating choices and consuming fish oil for arthritis helps to protect your joints.  It helps to relieve stiffness and inflammation. Just like with Osteoarthritis it is essential to overly protect those damaged joints.  Utilizing the same supports, braces, and compressions can be very helpful in reducing and preventing pain.  A final helpful prevention tip for rheumatoid arthritis; if you smoke, quit.  Smoking has been linked to an increased risk of developing this literal pain in the neck.


To Conclude

Signs and symptoms of arthritis can be hard to avoid, but staying ahead of it can make all the difference. Regardless of the type of arthritis if you wait to begin preventive methods until you see signs, you risk facing a greater amount of damage.  The key is to begin preventing now.  Evaluate your lifestyle.  Do you eat healthy and live a healthy lifestyle? Do you keep your body moving with routine exercise?  Are you protecting your past injured joints? These are all things that you can do before early arthritis symptoms present themselves.  The sooner prevention starts the less chance arthritis has to make a significant impact on your life.  Start preventing today!

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