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July 5, 2017

Arthritis: What is it? What can I do to manage it?

Stiff joints holding you back from doing what you want to do? It turns out you’re not alone. In Canada, 20.4% of Canadians aged 15 and older report that they have been diagnosed with arthritis by a health professional (1). Arthritis simply means “inflammation of the joint”. From a clinical perspective, this inflammation presents as pain or discomfort, stiffness, redness, and/or swelling (2). Arthritis is often thought to be an ‘old person’s disease’ but the truth is anyone, at any age can be diagnosed with this condition. There is, however a higher percentage of women diagnosed with arthritis vs men, likely as a result of hormone differences within the body.

Arthritis can be classified into 2 primary categories, osteoarthritis and inflammatory arthritis. Osteoarthritis occurs as a result of the body’s inability to repair damaged joint tissue that may eventually lead to bone-on-bone rubbing between the joints (2). Inflammatory arthritis occurs as a result of our body’s defence system attacking the tissue surrounding our joints instead of fighting off germs that may enter the body (2). While not all reported conditions experience activity-limiting pain, an astonishing 40% of Canadians living with arthritis do indicate a reduction in daily living activities (1). Whether you think you have arthritis, or you have been clinically diagnosed with arthritis, the goal is to reduce the symptoms in order to improve your quality of life.

How can you help yourself?

While not everyone will be able to keep their symptoms at bay without the support of a health care professional, below is a list of recommended tips from the Arthritis Society of Canada to help manage symptoms between appointments from a licensed practitioner (2).

  1. Exercise: Exercise can help manage symptoms by increasing both the strength and endurance of the muscles that support the joints. Good activity options include walking, biking and swimming.
  2. Weight management: Excess weight can be an important risk factor due to the additional stress put on your weight-bearing joints. Even a small amount of weight-loss can help reduce pain and limit further joint damage.
  3. Improved Mobility: Gentle stretching may help improve flexibility and mobility, while decreasing stiffness and pain. Exercises like yoga and tai chi can help manage stiffness.
  4. Heat and cold: Applying heat and cold can help relieve pain when aggravated. Heat can relieve stiffness, while ice may help with pain.

Additionally, if you find yourself seeking outside help in managing your arthritis, please give us a call at Optimum Sport Performance & Health Centre. Our front staff will be happy to schedule you an appointment with one of our qualified physiotherapists, chiropractors, registered massage therapists, acupuncturists, or kinesiologists. You may discuss treatment options that are best suited to manage YOUR symptoms. Our team is ready to help you continue living a healthy active life!

 

References

  1. Statistics Canada. Chronic Conditions, 2015. Available at: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/82-625-x/2017001/article/14762-eng.htm. Accessed June 20, 2017.
  2. The Arthritis Society. Understanding Arthritis. Available at:  http://arthritis.ca/understand-arthritis. Accessed June 20,2017.

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