Tuesday, June 8, 2010

"Arthritis" was the Word for June 5th, 2010.


I'm writing this after the fact.  My word for Saturday the 5th of June was arthritis.  Like many other folks, I have osteoarthritis.  All arthritis is chronic; there is no cure.

Beginning right after lunch on Friday I had a very noticeable drop in my energy level and my joints, particularly my knees, began to ache worse than usual.  We have our 15 year old niece visiting for a few weeks.  I had promised her a trip to town, so I pushed past my pain and kept my promise.  After supper that evening and until Sunday morning my discomfort was so bad I had to rest.  My husband and niece fed and entertained themselves while I sat in the recliner during the day and went to bed early both Friday and Saturday nights.  While resting I read a book.


Below is a  brief summary of Winning with Arthritis by Harris H. McIlwain, MD, Joel C. Silverfield, MD, Michael C. Burnette, MD and Debra Fulghum Bruce, published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Professional, Reference and Trade Group, New York, NY. 

Arthritis is chronic, which means, there is no cure.  The best that can be done for the disease is to manage the pain and slow the deterioration of the joints, and/or muscles.  There are 100 types of arthritis.  Lupus, gout, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are all types of arthritis.  Some can effect internal organs, and not only the joints.

Osteoarthritis is also called degenerative joint disease or DJD.  During times of increased stiffness and pain warm moisture twice a day, such as a bath or shower, can reduce discomfort.  However, people differ and some are helped more by cool water.  

Regular exercising helps maintain flexibility of the joints, and strengthens the muscles around the joints.  Exercises should not cause increased pain.  If this happens discontinuing these movements until a later time is best.  Exercising in a pool, such as at your local "Y", or in your pool at home, is beneficial because  the water takes pressure off the joints and allows increased range of motion.

Prescribed medicines for the pain help, but over the counter medications may work as well.  Aspirin, the old standby, is very good, but can be hard on the stomach.  Finding the best pain medication for an individual is usually done with the physician through trial and error. 

Diets and their benefits have not been studied thoroughly enough.  Some people are convinced avoiding particular foods has made their symptoms decrease while others see no difference.  What to eat is a matter of individual preference.


Winning with Arthritis gave descriptions and names for many of the most common forms of arthritis.   In each type detailed information was given about the symptoms, causes, risks if untreated, and treatments available. Also included were illustrations for many exercises, with names, verbal descriptions and directions for each, making mastery easy.  

The assistance and information given to me by the many doctors I've seen since being diagnosed with degenerative joint disease 20 years ago, was never so complete, or helpful.

I've learned, from this book and from personal experience, managing arthritis is a balancing act.  Excessive activity can cause, or increase the severity of joint pain and stiffness.  Humidity and atmospheric pressure can cause discomfort sometimes, but not always.  Inactivity can cause the joints to become stiff and make bending them more painful or even drastically limit movement.  However, stiffness and pain may increase inexplicably, and is, quite simply, another characteristic of the disease. 

Sensible daily exercises to strengthen the muscles and keep joints moving, medications for pain, baths or showers for stiffness and soreness are the basic treatments for the symptoms of osteoarthritis.  Additionally massage can reduce discomfort by helping the muscles surrounding the joints relax. 

Diet may or may not effect the disease.  If eating certain foods seem to help, eat them.  If no noticeable difference can be seen when changing the diet, eat a variety of fresh and nutrient rich foods as is recommended for general good health.  Fish oils are thought to help in some arthritis patients, and are also recognized as beneficial for other health reasons. 

Arthritis is a chronic disease.  Winning with Arthritis is an exceptionally informative handbook for anyone with arthritis.

Arthritis was the word for June 5th, 2010.


Wishing you a win with your arthritis.

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