Arthritis affects 5 million people living in Canada, from young children to seniors – that’s almost 14% of the entire population. National Arthritis Awareness Month seeks to highlight the many forms of the disease, (there are over 100) and to help both patients and their families manage and live with arthritis.
What is arthritis?
Arthritis is a condition that causes inflammation and pain in our joints. There are various types of arthritis, of which the most common forms are:
Osteoarthritis affects the smooth lining of cartilage in our joints. As this lining wears down, the muscles that work the joints have to work harder to move the joint, which can cause swelling. Osteoarthritis tends to affect the hands, knees, hips and sometimes the spine. Most people who develop osteoarthritis do so in their late 40s, but it can also be triggered by injury or other conditions, such as gout.
• Rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when your body’s natural defence systems targets affected joints, causing the outer covering of the joint to swell and become painful. It can also cause joints to become deformed.
• Ankylosing spondylitis
Ankylosing spondylitis affects the muscles and ligaments in your back, causing stiffness and problems moving
Fibromyalgia affects your central nervous system, and can cause musculoskeletal pain in your whole body.
Gout is caused by a build-up of uric acid in your body, which remains in certain joints such as your big toe, causing swelling, redness and intense pain.
Treatments for arthritis
Your physician will discuss various treatments with you according to your needs, that will probably center on three main areas:
• Lifestyle measures to help you keep healthy and moving
• Medication to relive pain and ease inflammation
• Therapies to help you enjoy everyday activities more easily
While there is no cure for arthritis, at AMG London, we believe that by taking a lifestyle medicine approach to arthritis, you can manage and take control of your condition better with lifestyle changes and adaptations.
Regular exercise is an important part of any arthritis treatment program, to build up your muscles and strengthen your joints. At AMG London, our arthritis specialists create bespoke exercise plans for all our patients to follow at home, so you can do the right exercises for your type of arthritis.
The key to arthritis-beneficial exercise is to ensure it is low impact, so you don’t ‘shock’ your joints. Low impact aerobic exercise should involve some element of strengthening, muscle development, and aerobic activity that raises your heart rate. Suitable exercise and activities includes swimming, walking, dancing, yoga and Tai Chi.
One of the very best forms of exercise is cycling, and with a wealth of cycle trails around London and Ontario, you’ll always find somewhere beautiful to cycle in the summer, or somewhere inside and warm during the winter!
Exercise also has other health benefits for arthritis sufferers, including potential weight loss (see below) and improving your posture, which in turn minimises the strain on your joints.
• Weight Loss
If you are overweight, you are placing more strain on your joints, which in turn will aggravate your arthritis. By maintaining a healthy diet and taking regular exercise, you can lose weight slowly and safely. If you need help with losing weight, our team of nutritionalists at AMG London will be happy to help with healthy eating advice and weight loss support.
• Healthy Diet
There are a lot of myths around diet and arthritis. At AMG London, our experts will help you sort fact from fiction, and also discuss with you the benefits of certain foods, such as oily fish which contain long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. These could ease the symptoms of inflammatory forms of arthritis. Calcium intake is also important for those with rheumatoid arthritis.
Living with arthritis? Want to try a different approach?
Come to AMG London and consult with our experts. We work closely with your own doctor/GP to understand your arthritis, and to offer a holistic approach to living with and managing your condition. At our clinic in London ON we have all the experts who can help you change your lifestyle under one roof, from dieticians and mobility experts, to exercise classes and even a healthy eating bistro.
Why not come in and see us, and make Arthritis Awareness Month 2016 the start of a new way of living with arthritis for you and your family.
You’ll find more useful information of arthritis on these websites: