With the growing number of health conditions worldwide, inflammation seems to be one of the greatest culprits for most, especially when it comes to autoimmune diseases. Arthritis is our nation’s number one cause of disability, and it’s only getting worse.
Affecting nearly 60 million adults and 300 000 children, arthritis is a very common condition that’s, unfortunately, becoming one of the most usual health topics. In addition to diabetes and other chronic inflammatory diseases, arthritis and its various types have found their way into every age, gender, and race. And even though the main cause of arthritis is inflammation, it’s important to dive deeper into the topic and understand where the inflammation comes from, why it occurs, and what we can do about it.
What is Arthritis?
Arthritis is chronic inflammation, swelling, and degeneration of the joints, tissues around the joints, and other connective tissue. It causes pain and stiffness, making it hard to move around or stay active. While it usually affects older adults, it’s becoming more and more prevalent in younger generations and even children.
Arthritis most usually affects the hands, feet, hips, knees, and lower back, and it ranges from a mild pain that you can learn to live with to severe disability making it difficult to move and function in your day-to-day life. Arthritis is incredibly important to catch as soon as possible so it doesn’t progress into severe symptoms that are harder to manage and put under control.
Types of Arthritis
There are a few different types of arthritis and they all differ in severity, symptoms, and treatment options. The most common include:
- Osteoarthritis – This is the most common form of arthritis and it develops when the joint cartilage breaks down from repeated stress. Also known as “wear and tear” arthritis, osteoarthritis develops slowly and gets worse over time. It causes pain, stiffness, and reduced range of motion.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis – This is an autoimmune condition that develops when your own immune system begins attacking your own cells and causing inflammation. It causes severe swelling, pain, and inflammation in the joints, often hard to manage and causing disability over time.
- Psoriatic arthritis – A type of arthritis that develops in people with psoriasis, an autoimmune disorder that affects your skin.
- Gout – This is a common form of arthritis that causes extreme pain and swelling in the joints known as flares that come and go. It causes the forming of hard uric acid crystals in your joints which create a powerful inflammatory reaction in your body.
- Juvenile arthritis – Also known as childhood arthritis, this type of autoimmune condition affects younger generations and can be as severe as making it difficult to walk or even dress up.
- Ankylosing spondylitis – This is known as the arthritis of the spine, usually your lower back with flares that come and go.
Causes of Arthritis
Unfortunately, even though we know that inflammation is the root cause of arthritis, experts can’t pinpoint the exact causes of the inflammation itself. What we do know are factors that contribute to inflammation and they all have to do with the way we live:
- Inflammatory foods and lack of nutritious ingredients
- Sedentary lifestyle and lack of physical activity
- Smoking and alcohol abuse
Additionally, there are some risk factors that might make someone more prone to developing arthritis, such as:
- Genetics and family history of arthritis
- Working in a setting that puts constant stress on your joints (like a professional sport)
- Being diagnosed with autoimmune conditions or other health disorders that already create plenty of inflammation in the body
- Being overweight or obese
- Certain viral or bacterial infections
Treatments for Arthritis
Current treatments for arthritis include a variety of steps you can work on yourself and find a way to manage this disease. Unfortunately, it isn’t completely curable, but by taking matters into your own hands, you can successfully manage it and put it in remission.
If the situation is really severe, you might need additional medical assistance to successfully treat arthritis such as specific medications called biologics, physical therapy, and therapeutical injections like cortisone shots and viscosupplementation which involves injecting a lubricant to make joints move more smoothly.
A great problem with medical treatments for arthritis is the fact many insurances don’t cover a variety of medications and therapies, leaving out-of-pocket amounts hard to pay for. Non-profit foundations like the Arthritis Foundation are trying to help change that by spearheading a new federal bill that will cut costs for many eligible Americans that can’t afford the treatment.
Natural Therapies for Arthritis
First and foremost, there are a few important lifestyle changes you can implement and help lower your inflammation and with it, reduce pain, swelling, irritation, and other uncomfortable symptoms. Some of the best steps you can implement include:
- Limiting processed foods and sugars
- Including more nutrient-rich foods into your diet like superfoods
- Increasing your physical activity level
- Focusing on improving your sleep quality
- Implementing self-care routines to lower your stress levels
Mental Health and Arthritis
Another harsh symptom of arthritis is how badly it can affect your mental health. Sources report how 48% of arthritis patients feel down, depressed or hopeless, making it hard to even implement steps they can do from the comfort of their own homes. This is where therapy and finding help for your mental health conditions can play a huge role in managing your arthritis and inflammation.
The inability to perform your daily tasks and activities can take a huge toll on your self-esteem and mood, making you feel hopeless and depressed, finding it hard to realize you need help in ticking even the most basic items of your to-do list. Luckily, there are plenty of online support groups for people going through the same things or fighting the same symptoms in their own autoimmune conditions.
Organizations like the Arthritis foundation offer a variety of educational workshops, resources, and helpful tools you can use to learn how to live with this condition and find the ebay ways to improve your quality of life. They also offer help for parents and others who have a child with juvenile arthritis, giving them actionable tools and steps to make their children’s lives easier and happier.
Arthritis is a serious health condition that stems from inflammation, caused by a variety of factors that all have to do with today’s way of living. Even though there are ways to combat arthritis and manage its symptoms through medications and injections, it’s more of a patch than a sustainable solution. The real change has to come within and focus on dealing with the inflammation rather than the pain and stiffness that come as a consequence.