How to Beat That Painful
Arthritis is a condition that affects the joints of the body. Wherever
bones meet there is a joint, such as at the shoulders, elbows, hip,
knees, fingers, etc. When these joints are well-lubricated and healthy
there is no arthritis pain.
A protective layer of cartilage covers the ends of the bones and
provides a smooth, slick surface that cushions and removes friction in
the joint where the bones rub together. A thin membrane called the
synovium lines the joints and provides a fluid that lubricates and
nourishes the cartilage and bones in the joint.
Arthritis can occur when this synovium becomes damaged or inflamed. If
this happens, the lubricating fluid may not be present in the joint,
and cartilage damage can take place. In osteoarthritis, the cartilage
of the joints deteriorates and erodes until its cushioning effects are
nonexistent. Eventually the joint is just bone rubbing on bone, which
becomes very painful and crippling. Osteoarthritis happens over time
and is a gradual effect, which is why older people are more affected
Another form of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, can also be caused by
damage to the synovium. The synovium again stops providing the
lubricating fluid to the joint. This causes the joints to become
swollen, stiff, and painful.
While the cause of rheumatoid arthritis is not completely known, it is
believed that the immune system of the body actually attacks certain
tissues, with the synovium being one of them. Scar tissue can form in
the joints, and in extreme case, the bones can actually fuse together.
Women make up almost 75% of the 2 million people with rheumatoid
arthritis in the United States. This disease can start affecting
people as early as their teenage years.
Exercise helps to minimize arthritis.
An exercise program consisting of a weight-bearing low-impact routine
can greatly help to ward off arthritis pain. Stretching is another
excellent way to stay flexible and maintain good joint health. Strong
muscles assist the joints and prevent some degree of wear and tear.
If you are over age 50, it is especially important to do some type of
exercise to keep the joints flexible and prevent the onset of
arthritis. Many older people may think it is too late to begin
exercising, but the sooner you start the better. This age is when the
effects of arthritis begin to be felt the most, so this is when people
should really work to stay as healthy as possible.
Some other ways to prevent and minimize arthritis include:
1. Lose that extra weight.
The more you weigh, the more strain you put on your joints, especially
your hips and knees. The pressure from this extra weight will more
quickly erode the cartilage in the joints and cause pain all that much
quicker. Studies have shown that losing weight is a clear advantage to
delaying and preventing arthritis. In one study, overweight women who
lost 11 pounds or more over a 10-year period decreased their risk of
developing osteoarthritis of the knee by 50%.
2. Stretch those muscles.
Stretching warms up the muscles and helps prevent muscle strain and
tears when exercising. Stretch and hold for 15 to 20 seconds, then
rest a short while and repeat. Even when you are not exercising, it's
a good idea to stretch every day. This keeps the muscles loose and
limber, and helps them to support the joints better.
3. Walking is one of the best exercises.
If you are an older person, walking is a safe, healthy exercise that
has great benefits for all systems of the body. Not only does it help
keep the joints in shape, but it increases blood flow and energy
So, to keep your joints free from the painful effects of arthritis as
long as possible, follow the few tips just given. Lose the extra
weight, stretch those muscles occasionally, and walk several times a
week to keep those joints free from wear and tear. Exercising and
taking care of your body now will prevent a bunch of pain later!
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