One of the most common disease I hear about in my classes is Arthritis. Arthritis literally means inflammation of the joints. There are many possible causes of joint inflammation; the most common are osteo or rheumatoid arthritis. They can both be crippling and painful in one or more joints and although there are differences, their management is all about controlling inflammation.
There are a couple of types of arthritis, lets explain these now…
is the most common cause of arthritis, affecting 20% of people and more than 50% of those over 60. It is the leading cause of disability in retired people and is a disease of the cartilage, which is slowly broken down and lost.
If you are 40 or over and have pain in a joint, then chances are it is due to Osteoarthritis. This is especially likely if you are overweight; your work or hobbies involve repetitive movements of that joint; or the joint aches after exercise.
Cartilage is the substance that cushions the bones within the joint. The process of inflammation is started with some kind of damage to the cartilage from injury or a biochemical abnormality that causes collagen fibres to be broken down. This allows the cartilage to absorb more water and swell, eventually splitting. As it breaks down and thins there is a loss of the cushioning effect and more friction between the bones, leading to inflammation and pain. To try and repair itself the bone remodels and produces bony spurs called ‘osteophytes’ that can restrict movement.
Affects 2% of the population and typically affects a younger age group. It can start from as young as 10, though onset is usually in people aged 30 – 40 years. It is an auto-immune disease of the membrane around the joint, (synovium). It also affects the skin and other organs in the body, including eyes, skin, heart, gut, lungs and nerves. In auto-immune diseases the body mistakenly is attacked by its own immune system. It’s thought the trigger is an infection, where the invading virus or bacterium has a protein which is similar to that in body tissues so as the immune system tries to kill & remove the infection, it also starts to attack itself. It is a chronic disease that has intermittent flare-ups and remissions that lead to permanent joint damage, destruction and deformity. The damage to the joints can happen early, & does not correlate to severity of symptoms and may be genetic. Symptoms can include tiredness, lack of energy, weight loss, fever, night sweats.
I personally have the first one, Osteo, brought on by years of pounding, impact exercise in my job as an aerobics instructor. The way I manage mine is to NOT do impact exercise anymore, I now get my cardio exercise from riding a bike instead, this is great, no impact on those knee joints and it feel so good to get outside in the fresh air.
There are many anti inflammatory drugs out there, however, as always I chose to manage my pain (if I get any) the natural way. Here are some of the ways I do that:
- Ice packs if the knee swells after excessive swelling
- Eating naturally, I have found avoiding SUGAR and alcohol dramatically changes how my knee feels
- I take an Turmeric supplement daily, Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric, which inhibits the production of inflammatory hormones.
- Regular gentle exercise is also important to help maintain joint mobility and strengthen muscles, but don’t overdo it. While exercise may trigger joint pain in the early stages, over time it usually improves symptoms – especially for people with osteoarthritis. I personally find pilates and mobility stretches really helps.
Let me know what you do to contain your symptoms. All the exercises we do in ALIVE Pilates sessions will help your ease Arthritis symptoms.