Arthritis is the term we use to describe the swelling and stiffness of the joints. Often, this is a chronic condition that lasts for years.
If you have recently been diagnosed with some form of arthritis, you are far from alone. According to the CDC, an estimated 22.7% of adults had clinician-diagnosed arthritis in 2015. This condition becomes more common after the age of 65. For Americans aged 65 or over, just about half of all people surveyed reported receiving an arthritis diagnosis.
Are you interested in learning effective ways you can adapt your lifestyle to your diagnosis? Let’s talk about how you can maximize what you can do with your body.
- Manage Your Mental Health
- Eat Food with Good Fats
- Consider Taking Certain Dietary Supplements
- Remember, You Can Still Be Physical
What is Arthritis?
Joints are the cartilage cushions between your bones. These can become inflamed for many reasons including overuse, infection and autoimmune. When they do, this is called arthritis. Many parts of the body can be affected by arthritis including the knees, fingers, and neck.
- A decreased range of motion
Arthritis can develop in people of any age, but is very commonly seen in adults over the age of 65. Aside from age, obesity is the most notable risk factor. It is more common in women than it is in men.
Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the most common forms of arthritis. These management tips are primarily targeted for osteoarthritis, also called degenerative arthritis.
Tip #1: Manage Your Mental Health
Stress makes arthritis worse. It can set off the body’s inflammatory system, which is what causes arthritis in the first place. Living with arthritis can be a feedback loop of cause and effect — where stress leads to inflammation and inflammation leads to stress. To combat this, we can use positive psychology. Science in the past 15 years has found that we have control over about 30% to 40% of our well-being. This means we can break the chain of stress and dissatisfaction using exercises in conscious living.
The University of Washington, Department of Orthopedics, describes what successful stress management techniques accomplish for somebody with arthritis. For successful stress management, you need to:
- Minimize stress
- Accept the things in your life that are beyond your control
- Become skillful at avoiding the harmful effects of stress
Cortisol is the “stress hormone.” It is a steroid hormone produced by the adrenal gland. This hormone is your body’s alarm system. Your brain and your hormone-producing glands above your kidneys work in tandem to make sure you can respond optimally to an emergency.
Human evolution over the past 10,000 years happened so abruptly that our glands are still adapting. This is why it is important for people diagnosed with arthritis to manage his/her expectations and be aware that there are many things in life that are beyond our control. Meditation, gratitude interventions, and choosing to schedule a meeting with a therapist are all ways arthritis patients minimize unnecessary cortisol.
Boost Your Motivation
Motivation is key to good mental health. There are many things you can do to boost your motivation. For example, taking up a low-impact hobby or sport can be a healthy escape.
Routines are a kind of motivation. Almost anything productive or fun that becomes automatic over time will be good for your mental health. Ultimately, your joints will thank you.
Tip #2: Eat a Diet Rich in Good Fats
Mediterranean diets are recommended for managing your arthritis. The best nutrition for somebody with arthritis is heavy in good fats like Omegas and monounsaturated fats.
Olive oil contains some of these healthy fats. Oleocanthal, which is a fat molecule contained in this ancient Mediterranean oil, has similar anti-inflammatory properties to Ibuprofen. As you may already know, olive oil is also good for your heart health.
Consult with your Healthcare Provider if You Have Pancreatic Problems or Diabetes
Many people who receive an arthritis diagnosis also suffer from other pre-existing conditions. Although bad fats are obviously worse than good fats, people experimenting with diabetes self-management or otherwise living with sensitive digestive systems should speak with their doctor before taking up a diet that is high in any kind of fat.
Tip #3: Consider Taking Certain Dietary Supplements
Osteoarthritis is a painful condition that occurs when your joints wear down over time. Magnesium has many benefits, but the reason why it is particularly good for people living with arthritis is that it tackles the problem from multiple angles.
Not only is magnesium needed for the production of cartilage, but it is also an anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety health supplement. In 2018, doctors from the University of Minnesota found that lower magnesium intake was associated with worsened pain and function for patients with knee osteoarthritis.
Magnesium is in every cell in your body. It is one of those essential minerals that does not receive much attention until it becomes a problem.
Benefits of magnesium include:
- Migraine prevention
- High blood pressure control
- Anxiety control
- Exercise recovery
- Immune response
Sometimes Hard to Get
Magnesium is one of the top reasons why nutritional arthritis management techniques suggest a Mediterranean diet. Aside from Mediterranean veggies and olive oil, fatty fish like halibut and salmon are also high in magnesium. However, magnesium is not only found in food that is high in fat. You can also find it in spinach and dark chocolate.
Collagen is best known for its wrinkle reduction properties and skin benefits. It is a very popular nutritional supplement that will level up any arthritis management routine.
Collagen is the main protein that makes up your skin and other connective tissues. A study published in the Journal of Skin and Pharmacology and Physiology found that consuming powdered collagen works by boosting a person’s ability to produce their own collagen.
Helps Alleviate Joint Pain
Taking collagen can help improve skin elasticity and can help your body heal inflamed joints. Studies show that taking two grams of collagen daily for 35 days can improve joint pain, and this effect will continue on average all the way until day 70.
As with all dietary supplements, we recommend that you discuss taking them with your healthcare provider and choose high-quality regimens.
Tip #4: Remember, You Can Still Be Physical
It is true that your body is different at age 65 than at age 25, but if you have the motivation, you can be physical at any age. Examples of low-impact exercise routines that can boost your health comprehensively include yoga, tai chi, and cycling.
The most important part of incorporating exercise into your daily life when you have been diagnosed with arthritis is to keep your practice low-impact. If you have arthritis of the knees, this will mean no running, but swimming is highly encouraged for this condition.
In this way, you can find low-impact substitutes for activities you have been doing your whole life. Scheduling an appointment with a physical and/or occupational therapist should also be considered. These therapists can work with you to develop a personalized movement and exercise plan to help maintain joint function and strength.
If you are ready to take back control of your life, try these arthritis management techniques. For more information and a wider scope of health promotion and disease management services, schedule a visit at our location in Washington Heights. Call 212-326-5705 or make an appointment directly through the website.
Let us help you put these arthritis management techniques into practice.