Arthritis Today

Author: Shannon Miller Lifestyle

Arthritis in your Back

May is Arthritis Awareness Month. What do you know about Arthritis, and would you know if your body was attacked by arthritis tomorrow?

Arthritis is an autoimmune disease, not just one of inflammation. This means that the cells are attacking themselves, that the body has difficulty with certain immunities. Pain and swelling is easily seen and felt at the joints, but may be present in the organs, as well.

There are three basic types of arthritis.

1. Juvenile Arthritis

This is a term used for any arthritis diagnosed in children 16 and under, but can include any of the following:

  • oligoarthritis: four or fewer joints are affected in six months or more.
  • Polyarthritis: five or more joints are affected in the first six months of symptom onset
  • Systemic: inflammation in organs and joints, also sometimes accompanied by fever and rash
  • Enthesitis-related: inflammation of the tendons (connective tissue attached to bone)
  • Other: Lupus, scleroderma, psoriatic arthritis, and dermatomyositis are also included in the juvenile arthritis umbrella.

2. Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis, or RA, can occur at any time in a person’s life, with no forewarning. The body’s immune system attacks its synovium, which lines the joints, causing them to swell. The inflammation can them spread through the body. RA occurs in stages, or flares, and can then be in remission for periods of time before resurfacing.

3. Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease caused by the breakdown of cartilage over time. Primary osteoarthritis happens later in life, and is caused by overuse of certain joints. Secondary osteoarthritis occurs can happen earlier in life, and can be caused by carrying too much weight on the body or by an injury.

How will arthritis affect your life, and what can you do about it?

A pair of twins, Traci Stokes Markel and Staci Stokes Waites, were diagnosed with RA at a young age. At that time, the typical treatment was to remain still with alternating ice and heat treatments. Doctors and scientists soon found out that having people sit around was causing more harm than it was good. They soon realized that the “use it or lose it” technique was much better. The more the joints are used, the more they lubricate themselves and stay looser.

Easier said than done. Arthritis makes movement painful and can make the patient feel very tired, especially when you are also on medications.

Through the years, Traci and Staci underwent many forms of treatments and have kept their lives active to combat the symptoms of arthritis. Staci in particular has gone through drug trials in the Houston, Texas area under the care of Dr. David Lanagan and Dr. Angela McCain. Together, they have developed a system of care including a monthly intravenous intervention to control the disease much like other autoimmune disorders are treated.

If you have arthritis, ask your doctor about the latest treatments and possibilities for you. Other important elements, according to the Arthritis Foundation are:

  • Keep your fitness level up, especially in a way that does not stress joints, like in water.
  •  Eat a balanced diet with plenty of vitamins.
  • Don’t smoke!!
  • Get a full night’s rest.
  • Try to reduce stress by doing things like yoga or deep breathing

For therapies, consider some of the following:

  • Heat and cold therapy
  • massage therapy
  • relaxation therapy
  • consider surgery if relevant
  • try various medications, such as NSAID’s

SML TIP:  To avoid Osteoarthritis, keep your weight in-check and make sure to eat a balanced diet and exercise throughout life (or, starting NOW).

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