Dr. Arthritis Shares: The Best and Worst Exercises to Try When You Have Arthritis

Exercise–you know for a fact that it helps you manage your symptoms better, and it has lasting, long-term benefits for arthritis sufferers. So you try your best to stay active despite your symptoms. Unfortunately for us, when our joints are stiff, aching and painful, we’re pretty much limited to leisurely walks and gentle stretching. They’re fine and they work—but it can get a little repetitive and boring.Continue reading

Dr. Arthritis Shares: Arthritis Foundation Shares CBD Guidelines for Adults with Arthritis

A lot of arthritis sufferers frequently tout the efficacy of CBD as an alternative approach to managing their condition.

The results are largely anecdotal at this point. Even so, there is enough evidence to prompt researchers and the medical community to work towards proving the science behind it. We explored it at length in a previous post, which you can find here. But hinging off this, advocates of CBD for arthritis would be pleased to know that the largest arthritis advocacy group in the US, Arthritis Foundation, just recently published CBD guidelines on their website.

Arthritis Foundation releases CBD Guidelines for arthritis

It must be noted that clinical research is still ongoing regarding the safety of CBD for arthritis symptoms. And efficacy has yet to reach an indisputable standard that will satisfy the mainstream scientific community. However, major groups such as the AARP and Arthritis Foundation find a real need to release guidelines that are “meant to balance the conservative stance of most medical authorities with the real life needs of their constituents.”

“The Arthritis Foundation is aware of the growing popularity and availability of CBD-based products. Industry reports show that people with arthritis are among the top buyers, and pain is the leading reason for purchase. Our July 2019 survey of 2,600 people with arthritis shows significant use of and interest in CBD (cannabidiol).* Earlier surveys have shown repeatedly that pain is the most burdensome arthritis symptom. “
Arthritis Foundation
Arthritis Foundation CBD Guidance for Adults with Arthritis

The goal? To offer reliable information that will allow older adults who suffer from arthritis to make informed decisions about the benefits and potential downsides of CBD use.

We strongly encourage our customers and followers to read through the Arthritis Foundation’s guidelines as a way to supplement the available, albeit limited, information that we have access to right now. Like the foundation and numerous CBD advocates, we share the curiosity they have as to its safety and efficacy and look forward to any advances the FDA and scientific communities may have about these products.

As a general reminder however, as with any new treatment or therapy, please reach out to a trusted physician and consult with them if you intend to give it a try. And rest assured, our team here at Dr. Arthritis will continue to keep you updated on the latest news regarding this matter.  

Dr. Arthritis Shares: These Daily Habits Could be Making Your Arthritis Worse

We all know this–arthritis is a condition that demands us to plan our life around it. Especially when it comes to everyday habits. What we could once do before without a second thought now prompts us to pause and consider if it’s something that would make our symptoms worse.

To that end, have you stopped to consider if your seemingly mundane and inconsequential habits are causing your joints to flare? We’ve compiled a list of the most surprising things commonly included in your daily routine that could be making your symptoms worse. Check it out below–

1. Supersizing your side of fries

Next time you eat out, go easy on the fries—or any potato dish for that matter.

A study has shown that potatoes are one of the leading causes of weight gain. Research conducted by Harvard scientists across 120,000 healthy, non-obese women and men saw an average weight gain of 3.3 pounds across the 13-year study—and potatoes were the leading culprit.

Extra weight worsens arthritis symptoms because it adds more pressure on our joints. If you’re not clear on how serious that is, remember this: every pound a person gains adds roughly around five pounds of stress on our knees.

2. Lighting up another cigarette

For some arthritis sufferers, smoking can become a coping mechanism to help manage the stress and anxiety associated with the illness. But the cons of smoking far outweigh any perceived pros.

On top of heart disease, lung cancer, emphysema, asthma and other serious diseases, smoking has also been linked to raising a person’s risk for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and making RA symptoms worse.

Smoking also worsens inflammation and has been known to make drugs commonly used to manage arthritis symptoms less effective.

3. Ordering your favorite blended coffee drinks

Who can resist sipping on a caramel frappucino or an ice cold white chocolate mocha on a hot day?

Be careful though—these drinks are at least 600 calories and could have at least 10 teaspoons of sugar. Now, think back to how many of these coffee drinks you can knock back on any given day and consider how much sugar you’re unwittingly ingesting.

Increased levels of pro-inflammatory markers can lead to chronic inflammation. Over time, this can cause damage to your organs, tissues, and your joints. Sugar-laden drinks also lead to weight gain that exacerbate symptoms.

4. Spending too much time behind the computer

Physical activity can feel like a double edged sword when it comes to managing arthritis. But even the smallest effort to exercise can go a long way, especially if you spend most of your time sitting down, hunched over a computer.

Movement, no matter how little, can help lubricate the joints. It can be as simple as stretching every few hours, taking your dog out for a walk, or even wiping down your kitchen counters.

5. Using your smartphone/ tablet/ laptop before bedtime

A lot of us tend to scroll through our phones before bedtime. We like browsing through Instagram or Pinterest, checking our Facebook messages, or even fall into the blackhole of Amazon shopping in the comfort of our beds as we wait until sleep finds us. Except, you almost never do.

A lot of that has to do with your arthritis. Often, the pain is making it hard for you to get comfortable and fall asleep. But using your mobile devices isn’t helping your situation either. And we all know that poor sleep is linked to heightened pain and fatigue, which means you’re essentially making your symptoms significantly worse.

Bottom line?

If you’re guilty of these daily habits, it might be helpful to cut back a little on that trip to the coffee shop or carve some time out to get moving. When you’re doing everything you can to manage your illness and its symptoms, you might as well take the extra step to make sure you’re not inadvertently self-sabotaging your progress.

 

Dr. Arthritis Asks: Are You Part of An Arthritis Support Group?

We all know that arthritis is so much more than joint pain; it’s a condition that can affect your entire way of life. Just the thought of all the changes you have to make in your can be overwhelming, imagine having to actually live through it as you begin to realize just how debilitating your diagnosis can be.

For a lot of us, the support of family and friends have proven to be invaluable. But the truth is, unless they suffer through the disease itself, it’s hard for them to grasp how frustrating living with arthritis really is. This is why so many of us seek the help and comfort of a support group.

A support groups is a community made up of fellow arthritis sufferers who know exactly what you mean when you say you’re having a flare day. When you struggle to find the words to describe what you’re going through, it’s comforting to find a group of people who can actually articulate the physical, emotional, and mental impact that this illness has on us. And when the battle with arthritis starts to make you feel defeated and isolated, there’s comfort in knowing that there are people out there whose own experiences mirror your own so perfectly, you start to feel less alone.

As an arthritis sufferer, we recognize that emotional and social support is critical to managing our health. Granted, most arthritis sufferers find it very hard to open up, but within a great support group who shares similar challenges, you can find a safe space to share and learn from others.

Now, the question is, where can you find a support group? Where do you even start?

Our advice is to speak first to your immediate healthcare providers. Chances are, they have a network of groups in your area that they can recommend.

Another good resource is the Internet.

The Arthritis Foundation offers the Live Yes! Connect Group that provides “supportive social connections and are inclusive to adults with all types of arthritis and rheumatic diseases. We bring people together for fun social and informative educational events and activities focused on mutual support and positive coping strategies for living well. “

To connect with local support groups on ground, visit https://www.arthritisintrospective.org/live-yes-connect-groups-adults.

You can also try the American Self-Help Group Clearinghouse website or go to https://www.meetup.com/ and simply run a search for “arthritis support group.”

Even our own Facebook community at Dr. Arthritis is home to thousands of arthritis and chronic pain sufferers who frequently share stories about their experiences and tips on how to best manage arthritis. Simply go to https://www.facebook.com/doctorarthritis.

Visit https://www.facebook.com/doctorarthritis to joint our growing community, where you can chat, engage, and meet fellow arthritis sufferers.

One of the things that most arthritis sufferers overlook about living with this illness is the importance of connecting with others who fully understand what they’re going through. Joining a community and knowing that there are others just like yourself who go through these struggles everyday and can find joy in their big and small triumphs with this disease can go a long way towards making you feel less alone in this.

If you know of any other local support group or online community that you’d like to share with us, leave a comment below. 

Dr. Arthritis Shares: 10 Things We Wish We Knew Sooner About Managing Arthritis

Some of us have been living with and managing our arthritis for years. We pretty much know what triggers a flare, and we know what to do and how to get around the worst of our symptoms.

So for those who have just been recently diagnosed, we know arthritis and all its implications on your health and way of life is still new, overwhelming, and scary. To that end, we’re rounded up some of the best advice that we’ve come across that have proven to be very useful; it has gotten us through most of our darkest times and toughest flare ups and, quite frankly, wish we had known it all sooner. Check it out below—

1. Take it easy on yourself

Rest when you have to. It’s not a sign of weakness. It’s simply your body telling you that you need to recover and recuperate.

2. Find an arthritis support group

Family and friends who understand and support you are important. But sometimes, they simply don’t get it. It’s not a bad thing, just a fact.

Find an arthritis support group in your local community or go online and join one. You’d be surprised at how simply learning about how others are handling their diagnosis can make you feel less isolated. It can do wonders for your outlook and morale.

3. Never be embarrassed to ask for help

Long-time arthritis sufferers are advocates of getting arthritis recognized as a legitimate disability. Why? Because on its worst days, it can be a debilitating condition that affects work, school, your daily routine.

Most people are more than willing to give you the support you need—all you have to do is ask for it.

5. Arthritis can be expensive—so be prepared

Getting an arthritis diagnosis, as most of us has already experienced, isn’t as straightforward as it seems. But even the day to day expenses associated with managing your diagnosis can take its toll on your budget. Be prepared and ask your insurance provider what they can cover to help manage the cost.

5. Medication that works today may not always work forever—talk to your doctors

There’s a reason why a lot of arthritis sufferers get so frustrated about their treatment plans. It’s not uncommon for arthritis sufferers to find medication that actually works, only to have it suddenly become ineffective.  Unfortunately, finding the right meds isn’t as easy as you think so you have to stay in constant communication with your health team.

6. Stay active whenever you can

Arthritis is a progressive condition, meaning it gets worse over time. But exercise really helps. Exercise may seem counterintuitive given that you’re trying to ease the pressure and load on your joints, but no one is saying that staying active means you have to finish a marathon or join a cross fit group. Exercise when you can, while you still can. Choose something that’s easy on your joints like swimming, walking or yoga.

7. Diet can help manage your symptoms

What you eat and don’t eat can go a long way in terms of managing your symptoms. There are foods that serve only to make your inflammation worse—learn them and stay away from them. On the flipside, there are options that can help minimize inflammation as well.

8. Watch out for depression

Arthritis sufferers are prone to depression. The diagnosis alone can be devastating; and going through all the symptoms can feel isolating and overwhelming because you feel like you have no one to talk to. These compounded emotions plus the pain often lead to depression. Most sufferers focus so much on treating the physical symptoms that they overlook how it’s affecting their emotional and mental well-being.

9. Arthritis doesn’t just manifest as joint pain

Joint pain is the most common symptom, but arthritis could also affect your eye sight or your skin. You could break out in rashes, develop lesions, experience fever and fatigue. It may seem unrelated, but they’re actually more uncommon symptoms of arthritis.

10. Don’t ignore over-the-counter solutions

Arthritis requires extensive and thorough check ups with your physician that most assume it requires hardcore medication to treat as well. But in fact, over-the-counter medication such as NSAIDS or topical options are just as effective. Tools and aids such as compression garments—all available in your local pharmacy—are also very helpful. But be sure to discuss all your options before you start with it.

 

As always, if you have more to add, feel free to tell us all about it and leave a comment below.

Dr. Arthritis Shares: Here’s Another Reason Why You Should Quit Smoking

Smoking is dangerous to your health—everyone knows that.

But it’s also one of the most addictive habits that you could ever form. So it’s not quite as easy to stop lighting-up as you would assume. If you’ve ever tried to quit, you know this for a fact.

In the case of arthritis sufferers, cigarette smoking actually becomes more prevalent despite knowing that the habit will impact their condition negatively.

Why?

Anecdotal evidence points to the perceived psychological relief that smoking offers. Smokers often smoke when they are stressed—as a way of coping. And when you’re dealing with a condition such as arthritis, a condition that often isolates sufferers and puts additional pressure in their daily life, smoking becomes an easy way to cope.

Now, if you think that justifies maintaining a habit that could lead to heart and lung disease, take note: a new study finds that your rheumatoid arthritis (RA) risk—one of the most common forms of arthritis— declines for every year you don’t smoke.

The study, which involved 230,732 female subjects, 1,528 of whom had RA, found that current smokers have significantly more risk of developing RA versus non-smokers. Additionally, findings highlight that smokers who quit were 37 percent less likely to develop the condition. In fact, the authors of the study believe that quitting smoking could not only delay the onset of RA, it could prevent it from developing at all.

The findings in their research are significant primarily because it underscores the positive impact of preventative behavior change for RA. Considering that RA is an autoimmune condition, discovering concrete reasons that could help prevent the illness could be potentially groundbreaking.

But at the end of the day, this is a study that gives smokers, especially ones that already suffer from arthritis, a reason to finally put the pack away good and resolve to stop smoking—which is something that we can all get behind.  

Dr Arthritis Asks: How Do Your Joints Feel In The Morning?

For most people, mornings are all about hitting your snooze button as many times as you can before you realize you have to jump out of bed, rush to shower and get dressed, grab whatever is in your pantry for breakfast, and head out to work praying that you don’t get stuck in traffic.

It’s the same for arthritis sufferers, except we’re snoozing because we probably didn’t get much sleep the night before. We’d love to jump out of bed and rush through our morning routine, but our bones and joints feel stiff and painful. We wish it were that easy to just grab breakfast and go, but we have to be careful about what we eat. And before we even reach our car and start worrying about rush hour traffic, we have to first worry about whether or not this gnawing pain in our joints will pass or will it escalate into a flare.

No matter how long you’ve been suffering with this illness, arthritis in the morning is something that we will never get used to. And the most frustrating this about it is, the very thing that can help prevent and reduce arthritis symptoms in the morning—loosening up stiff and aching joints through movement—feels nearly impossible to do.

So, what now? Do we just let arthritis get the best of us?

Of course not.

To help, we’ve compiled the best tips we’ve come across from this community about how they can make morning more manageable–

1. Take your medicine before you even get out of bed

Before bedtime, remember to bring a glass of water and your morning medicine to your bedside. When you wake up, take your pills and lie back down and rest before starting your day. Give it an hour or so—set a second alarm if you have to—your meds would’ve already kicked in and it makes it so much easier to get out of bed and go through your morning routine.

2. Slip into compression gloves

A lot of arthritis sufferers wake up with incredibly painful hands in the morning. An easy solution is to slip into a pair of compression gloves. It should help with circulation and ease inflammation while providing much needed support as you start your day.

3. Do gentle stretches before getting out of bed

Before you get out of bed, take a few minutes to stretch. Don’t just stretch your back or neck, make sure you also do your smaller joints to decrease the pain and stiffness.

4. Run a hot bath or shower

Give yourself time to relax and get ready for your day while running a hot bath or shower. Soak or stay under the water for at least 10 minutes—the steam and heat can really help loosen up muscles and joints.

5. Give heating pads and electric blankets a try

At night, turn down the temperature in your room because it’s easier to find sleep in a cold room that it is when you’re sweating through your pajamas. But because cold doesn’t do our joints any favors, make sure you use an electric blanket or place heating pads in areas where you wake up with most pain, like your hands, neck or knees.

If you have more tips to share so we can add to this list, feel free to tell us all about it and leave a comment below.  

Dr. Arthritis Shares: Top Tips To Manage Painsomnia

Painsomnia—a person’s inability to sleep due to pain.

If you have arthritis, then sadly, you’re all too familiar with this condition. In fact, according to statistics, almost 80 percent of arthritis sufferers have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep—and it’s a problem that’s common among across the different types of arthritis.

Even more worrying is the fact that painsomnia leads to a scary and overwhelming vicious cycle. All day you’re tired from trying to manage the symptoms of your arthritis. You go home, exhausted from the pain, but you still can’t sleep at night. The next day, you start your day even more exhausted, with added feelings of anxiety on whether this is how it’s going to be from here on out—and you end up going through the whole thing again.

Painsomnia is a real and unfortunately, inevitable part of our diagnosis. So we asked members of this community what they do to manage it. Here are some top tips you can try below—

1. Try using a thin pillow or a neck roll to keep your neck straight during sleep

For most neck arthritis sufferers, it helps to keep their neck straight at night. Using the thinnest pillow possible helps provide that needed support without putting your neck in a weird angle. We recommend using the kind sold for backpackers or rolling up a small towel that you can position at the base of your neck.

2. Turn the thermostat down

Cold typically causes arthritis symptoms to flare up, but a lot of arthritis sufferers recommend turning the thermostat down during bedtime. While heat is known for keeping joints more limber and minimizing pain, sleeping in a warm room often makes you restless and you simply end up tossing and turning. On really bad flare days, try keeping the temperature down but using a heated mattress or blanket to soothe your aching joints and prevent it locking during the night.

3. Take a warm, hot bath

A good soak in the tub can help you relax and loosen up painful joints, which makes it an ideal pre-bedtime ritual. If your schedule permits, by all means, make the most out of it and treat yourself to a long, hot bath. Allow your body to soak up all that heat for as long as possible.

4. Wear your compression gloves or sleeves overnight

People normally use their compression gear during daytime, when they have to do activities that will require additional support. For some however, sleeping in compression sleeves or gloves help minimize the throbbing during the night. Go one size larger than your usual size though. Since you’re using it overnight, you don’t want to feel too constricted but still want to receive some level of compression.

5. Try melatonin supplements

Melatonin, the hormone that helps regulate your sleep cycle is available in pill form. The herbal supplement can bought over the counter at your local pharmacy and could help you sleep faster. As with any new medication that you intend to take, be sure however to first consult a trusted physician about it.

Any more tips that you think are worth sharing to manage painsomnia? Leave a message in our comment section below.

Dr. Arthritis Shares: The Truth Is–Not Letting Arthritis Define Us Isn’t The Easiest Thing To Do

As chronic-pain sufferers, we’re often told that arthritis doesn’t define us.

We agree.

But when an illness takes up so much of our time, thoughts, emotions, and strength, not letting arthritis define us is pretty hard to do.

The truth is, as much as we don’t want it to overwhelm us—at one point or another, arthritis has prompted intense feelings of loss and grief. Especially once we realize that ultimately, arthritis is a disease that demands us to plan our lives around it.

Once this sinks in, we start to mourn the losses associated with our diagnosis.  It’s not uncommon for arthritis sufferers to reconsider career choices, reassess priorities, and reevaluate lifestyles—and it’s actually one of the hardest things arthritis sufferers have to grapple with. When we get asked to go out after a particularly difficult day at work, for example, and we realize we don’t have the energy to spare, we tend to feel defeated by our illness. When we see people doing things that we used to love and enjoy, we start to mourn the loss of a life we could’ve had. When the subject of possibilities and the future comes up, we are overwhelmed by the uncertainty of our own.

Unfortunately, these are sentiments that don’t always get due attention. Why? Because as arthritis sufferers, we know that staying positive, hopeful, and constructive can go a long way towards managing the physical, mental, and emotional challenges of this condition.

That said, it also shouldn’t invalidate the very real feelings of loss, isolation and disappointment that arthritis sufferers go through. Because while we try not to let our arthritis get the best of us, there will be days where it will.

The truth is, it’s not always possible to look on the bright side when you’re dealing with chronic pain. It’s hard to stay positive on flare days. And you can’t always be hopeful when your pain makes you feel like you’re no longer in control of your own body. But in these instances, being self-aware about the realities of living arthritis and staying open to loved ones about what we’re going through can lead us towards getting the support we need to get through it.

Dr. Arthritis Shares: Here’s The Deal With CBD Oil and Arthritis

For the millions of arthritis sufferers globally, the most debilitating symptom that defines their condition is pain. Our joints feel inflamed and stiff that we can barely move. And for most, the condition progresses and worsen with age.

For all these symptoms, CBD oil is being hyped as the ultimate cure-all. But while some sufferers will swear by it, others have yet to definitively feel its efficacy. So what’s the real deal with CBD oil and what can it really do for arthritis?

Let’s first understand what CBD is—

There are two kinds of the cannabis sativa plant—hemp and marijuana—both of which produce chemical compounds called cannabinoids. Cannabinoids has two types—THC, which is the psychoactive part of the marijuana plant, and cannabidiol (CBD), which is what’s commonly available in the market today.

Most CBD products being sold are derived from hemp, which must contain less than 0.3 THC. So, contrary to common misconceptions about CBD products, it won’t actually have any mental effects on your body.

How does it work?

Researchers theorize that when CBD enters a person’s body, it has the potential to attach to CB2 receptors, which helps manage common arthritis symptoms.

Essentially, scientists believe that CBD has an effect on how these receptors respond to the signals that they receive and this results in reduced pain and inflammation.

Is CBD effective for arthritis?

There are a lot of anecdotal evidence that suggests CBD oil can help manage arthritis pain. But are there any scientific studies that support this claim? Do cases of reduced pain and swelling have any scientific merit?

Let’s take a look at existing studies:

  • In 2011, researchers discovered that CBD helped bring down inflammatory pain in rats.
  • In 2014, a comprehensive review of all material and research conducted on animals concluded that CBD could indeed be an effective treatment for one of the most common forms of arthritis, osteoarthritis (OA).
  • In 2016, a study revealed that topical application of CBD could help relieve pain and inflammation caused by arthritis.
  • In 2017, a separate study conducted in rats found that CBD may be a safe and useful treatment for OA joint pain.

While all these studies and research are indeed promising and encouraging, especially since they were effective during animal testing, none have produced conclusive scientific evidence that CBD is effective nor safe for humans…yet.

Are there risks, side effects, and other considerations to take note of?

To date, CBD has only received FDA approval to treat rare and severe forms of epilepsy. The FDA  has yet to approve CBD oil as a medical treatment for arthritis.

In the US, CBD is also not available legally nationwide. Anyone who wants to try it should first check with local state laws. Additionally, small scale studies have shown participants exhibiting allergic reactions to CBD oil, so be sure to conduct a patch test before application.

Bottom line?

Current studies show a lot of promise, but it will be a while before conclusive research proves that brain receptors and the human immune system are indeed affected in the way CBD oil researchers claims it does.

As with any available alternative treatment that has yet to be supported by solid scientific evidence and receive FDA approval, be sure to speak to a trusted physician before trying CBD oil.

Dr. Arthritis Shares: Here’s Why You Should Make an Effort to Exercise

You know how they say ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away?’ For arthritis sufferers, less than 10 minutes of brisk walking a day can actually keep the doctor away.

This is according to a new study led by Dorothy Dunlop, a professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. Her findings say that an hour a week of brisk walking, which is roughly less than 10 minutes of daily walking, is enough physical activity to prevent disability in people who experience arthritis pain in their knee, hip, ankle, or foot.

“This minimum threshold may motivate inactive older adults to begin their path toward a physically active lifestyle with the wide range of health benefits promoted by physical activity,” Dunlop said.

The conclusion was based on data spanning a four year study involving 1,500 older adults who suffered from common arthritis symptoms such as joint pain, aching or stiffness in their lower joints but were initially free of disability.

The participants’ levels of physical activity were monitored using a wearable device An hour a week of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity reduced their risk of disability, the study found. Specifically, the activity reduced the risk of walking too slowly to safely cross a street by 85 percent, and their risk of not being able to do daily living activities — for example, morning routine tasks such as walking across a room, bathing and dressing — by nearly 45 percent.

By the end of the four years, 24 percent of participants who did not get a weekly hour of brisk physical activity were walking too slowly to safely cross the street, and 23 percent had difficulty performing their morning routines, according to the study.

We’ve always been advocates of physical activity as a way to manage your arthritis symptoms. And the results of this study underscore the kind of impact even minimal physical activity has on arthritis.

That said, we also know that even this amount of physical activity can be too much for arthritis sufferers who have been inactive since their diagnosis. Hopefully however, 10 minutes a day of low-impact physical activity can be a stepping-stone that urges more people to get moving and stay active. Keep yourself motivated by inviting others arthritis sufferers in your community to walk with you; ask family or friends to join you; and don’t be afraid to use tools or aids such as compression sleeves or braces for added support.

Dr. Arthritis Tips: Simplifying Your Approach to Food and Cooking When You Have Arthritis


We often talk about how your diet and food choices affect your arthritis. Some foods are known to compound common symptoms, leading to inflamed joints and causing you to feel greater pain. Other ingredients are known for helping to minimize swelling and boost nutrition. In fact, for a full and more comprehensive look the best foods for arthritis that you should make a point to include in your daily meals, you can take a look at this video below:

Many of us are already familiar with these. Yet despite being informed of what foods to avoid and what ingredients to indulge in, many of us still settle for meals that are less than beneficial for our condition. Why? Because when you already suffer from aching joints and chronic pain, something as simple as preparing a healthy meal can become a difficult and monumental task. It’s easier to grab whatever is in the pantry, regardless of how it will affect our joints, when we’re already in pain anyway. What good would adding strain to our hands and body for?

To that end, we wanted to create a post that’s more focused on what you can do to save time and energy in the kitchen—while still making sure that you choose the best food for arthritis and get all the health benefits of the right ingredients.

Let’s start with this general tip—

You won’t be up to cook 24/7. There will be days when it will feel like a painful chore. But there will be days when your joints are cooperative and you actually can move freely and easily around the kitchen. On these days, be sure you make extra.

Frozen meal options for flare ups—

On days where our arthritis is flaring up, our go-to is a frozen meal—they’re quick, easy, and immensely filling. They’re also notoriously high in sodium and low on fiber. But that’s not to say you don’t have any good options—you just have to know what to look for.

Make sure that you look for frozen meals with—

·      Less than 800mg of sodium

·      A minimum of 15g of protein

·      At least 4g of fiber

This should give you a balanced, easy to prepare meal.

To boost your nutrient intake, try supplementing your frozen dinner with a slice of whole grain bread or a cup of frozen vegetables.

Stocking up on every day convenience foods—

For those who don’t have to worry about maintaining their weight or food causing their joints to get inflamed, the grocery is mecca for convenient, ready-to-eat foods. But most of these options are processed, which means they’re loaded with a lot of sodium. And that’s the main thing that anyone with arthritis have to watch out for.

So instead of grabbing that bag of chips or crackers, choose instead to stock up on whole grains, dairy, fruits and vegetables. Opt for a can of lentils, black beans, or split pea soup (invest in an electric can opener to make it easy to open). Ready-made foods like rotisserie chicken, breakfast burritos, or sushi are also good options. Pre-marinated fish like tuna and salmon fillets are also available and easy to make.

Easy to blend snacks—

Drinks and smoothies are quick, easy to make and stock. It’s also the quickest way to include all the anti-inflammatory fruits or vegetables in a single, healthy serving. Pre-made options however aren’t very satisfying and lack adequate protein.

Still, smoothies are convenient. Simply pair them with a piece of whole-grain toast or a fruit cup will help boost their nutritional value and make for a more complete arthritis-friendly meal.

For more diet and healthy eating tips, be sure to regularly check out our blog. If you have your own tips to share, do tell us all about it and leave a comment below.

Dr. Arthritis Asks: Do You Think Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis Impact Sufferers Equally?

We frequently talk about the prevalence of two types of arthritis: Osteoarthritis (OA) and Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA).

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OA is more common. The condition is brought on by the wear and tear of joints versus RA, which is an autoimmune condition. To that end, there is also a longstanding misconception that RA impacts sufferers more. People are more familiar with OA after all. It’s usually prompted by the natural aging process and is likely easier to understand treat. RA, being auto-immune is viewed as potentially more serious and severe, not to mention more difficult to manage.

A new study published in Arthritis & Rheumatology however says that regardless of what type you have, a diagnosis will have similar level of impact on patients.

The study, which includes 149 patients suffering from OA and 203 patients with RA also revealed that contrary to popular belief, OA was associated with higher burden of disease after treatment. Why? RA treatments showed more improvements in patients as opposed to the efficacy of treatments for OA patients.

Apart from dispelling prevailing arthritis myths, these findings are relevant because of its implications on public health and healthcare for sufferers. To date, OA is considered one of the top three most common health conditions in the US. It’s also at least 20 times more common that RA. These statistics, combined with the study’s findings point to a more urgent need for equal, if not improved, treatment and management strategies for OA.

On a more personal note, it’s important that everyone—whether you suffer from the condition, or you’re a loved one or caregiver of someone who has arthritis—understands that arthritis should not just leave you resigned to a life of disability. With better research and focus on possible treatments, the possibility of better interventions is possible. This study underscores that renewed efforts to achieve this is critical.

Finally, it’s also a reminder that regardless of what kind of arthritis people suffer from, each one will face unique challenges that impact their lives significantly, in different ways. Always be mindful of this fact and try to be supportive of each one’s personal struggle.

 

Dr. Arthritis Shares: Technology Helps Young Arthritis Sufferers Communicate Better

Fact: young people get arthritis too.

According to the CDC:

Arthritis in children is called childhood arthritis or juvenile arthritis. The most common type of childhood arthritis is juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), also known as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.

Childhood arthritis can cause permanent physical damage to joints. This damage can make it hard for the child to do everyday things like walking or dressing and can result in disability.

In fact, according to statistics, 1 in 250 US children are diagnosed with the condition. And according to further research, young people who live with JIA often struggle to express their needs to family members and caregivers.

As you know, opening up and communicating is already a challenge among adults who suffer from arthritis. Imagine a young child trying to manage their condition and their treatment, when they are typically more ill-equipped to do so.

To that end, a team of researchers made of international medical experts and led by the Minnesota School of Public Health is exploring how technology can empower kids who suffer from JIA communicate better.

The team has developed an app called Genia that’s intended to create a patient support system that emphasizes the importance of communication and building relationships, especially when it comes to decision-making.

In the study, researchers found that JIA sufferers tend to feel isolated and greatly appreciate opportunities where they can engage with other kids without the stigma of their illness hanging over their head. The idea of being seen as a “normal kid” is important to them. They’re very open to the possibility of working closely with their parents so they can articulate their needs better.

To that end, Genia’s ability to track and measure data like pain, fatigue, exercise, and diet is critical. It also incorporates more subjective insight such as mood that can give more clarity for health care professionals who want to find the right treatment plan for young children.

“Technologies like mHealth are challenging our conceptions of health communication and physician-patient interaction,” said Stuart Grande, lead researcher and lecturer in the School of Public Health. “Young people rely on their parents when communicating with physicians. Therefore an app like Genia, which offers parents and young people a way to connect prior to meeting with a physician, appears to be very important.”

To learn more about the study, check out the published study here.

Dr. Arthritis Asks: Do You Experience Arthritis Guilt?

An arthritis diagnosis can bring a wave of emotions. It usually starts with shock and disbelief. Then it’s followed by sadness and anger. And it’s not uncommon for you to feel anxiety and possibly denial as you let the news sink in. But the most surprising emotion that’s common among arthritis sufferers? Guilt.

It’s surprising because it’s not like you chose to have your joints degenerate through the years; neither were you given a choice about getting an autoimmune condition. However, because arthritis can be debilitating and it can intrude on life, it can affect your independence and prevent you from doing even the most basic tasks. The guilt comes from the idea that you now won’t be able to do what is expected of you; that you’ll eventually be a burden to family and friends.

To that end, feeling guilty is certainly understandable—inevitable even. But it also isn’t healthy.

Guilt is one of the leading emotions that contribute to depression—a serious condition that also affects a lot of arthritis sufferers.

You need a certain level of self-awareness that while you may end up playing the blame game when you get your diagnosis, being self-critical will do nothing to help you manage your condition.

So we thought it would be useful to gather some of the most actionable tips that fellow arthritis sufferers have shared with us through the years to make sure that guilt doesn’t get the best of you. Check it out below.

1. Read up on real arthritis facts

There are numerous types of arthritis, the most common being osteoarthritis, which refers to the natural wear and tear and degeneration of your joints; and rheumatoid arthritis, which is an autoimmune condition. In both cases, you have to understand that there is nothing that you could’ve done to prevent either.

True, lifestyle changes can help you manage symptoms better or even delay its onset, but if you’re naturally predisposed to the condition, you will eventually succumb to it. For example, Kobe Bryant is an exceptional athlete who gets regular exercise and yet he was diagnosed with inflammatory arthritis on his knee. Caitlyn Jenner was a former Olympian and now has osteoarthritis.

The point is, given that unavoidable factors such as ageing and genetics are major factors for arthritis, there’s no point in blaming yourself for it. Your best bet is to learn more about your condition. Ask your doctor about it or do your own research—the more you know, the more confident you feel that it’s a condition you can manage.

2. Set realistic goals for yourself

Because you’re feeling guilty at the possibility that you could one day end up relying more on family and friends because of your condition, you end up pushing yourself more than you need to. But when you set such high targets and aren’t realistic about your new limitations, you will end up disappointed. Often, this becomes a negative and vicious cycle that will ultimately affect your mental and physical wellbeing.

Be sure to set attainable goals for yourself. For example, if you want to stay fit, an hour and a half of intensive crossfit daily may be too much for your joints to handle. But that’s not to say that you should give up exercising altogether. Maybe a lower impact activity such as swimming or yoga for an hour might be more appropriate.

3. Take control of your health

There’s a feeling of hopelessness that’s typically associated with an arthritis diagnosis. People often get so hung up on the fact that it’s a degenerative joint condition that you can do nothing about. But let’s get one thing straight—you can’t do anything about your diagnosis, but can you do a lot to manage it.

For example, incorporating exercise into your daily routine is very helpful—it can help improve your physical and mental state. You can be more proactive about educating yourself about your condition, be responsible about taking your medications on time, and be more conscious about eating healthy. You can try to be more open about what you’re going through to family and friends to create a stronger support system.

4. Seek out others who are going through the same thing

Arthritis sufferers tend to shut family and friends out because of how guilty they feel about being a burden. In most cases, this isn’t the case at all. Loved ones are more than happy to help and listen to what you’re going through. But reaching out to others who know exactly what it’s like to live with arthritis and all its challenges is also more comforting to sufferers.

Try joining a support group in your local community if there is one. If not, go online. Our community alone has thousands of arthritis sufferers who consistently share their stories and thoughts on the challenges of arthritis. Even just reading about what they’re going through reminds you that arthritis isn’t your fault. There are others who understand exactly what you’re going through.  

 

Dr. Arthritis Tips: Joint Friendly Spring Cleaning Tips

The arrival of sunnier days is enough bring a smile on anyone’s face—especially for those who suffer from chronic joint pain. Winters are typically punishing for anyone with arthritis, so once the breeze blows a little bit warmer, sufferers will get their much needed respite from stiff and aching joints.

But along with fairer weather also comes a Spring cleaning checklist—one that will probably have you mopping, wiping, washing, sweeping, folding, dusting, lifting and everything in between. Just reading that checklist can leave you feeling exhausted. Imagine doing all that when you’re worried about painful joints too.

While there might not be a way to get around these much-needed Spring cleaning duties, there are some ways to minimize joint strain. Here are some joint friendly Spring cleaning tips that you can try.

1. Pace yourself

Do not attempt to do everything in one day and over exerting yourself. Give yourself more time and work towards completing a room in your home per day.

Focus first on heavy-traffic areas and assess where you go from there. It’s possible vacuuming pathways from main entrances to your home is all you really need and there’s no need to go all out with deep cleaning.

2. Choose the right tools

Look for cleaning items that come in smaller, lighter, and easy to use bottles instead of heavy tubs or massive spray bottles that make lugging cleaning equipment harder.

For scrubbing, try Magic Erasers and microfiber cloths to help remove faster and easier.

3. Be strategic about storage

This is especially helpful for two-storey homes. Be sure to stash cleaning equipment both upstairs and downstairs so you don’t have to keep running up and down when you’re doing Spring cleaning.

4. Take frequent breaks

Spring cleaning can be daunting and challenging—but remember that this isn’t a race. Take lots of breaks while you’re completing your chores. For example, if you’re mowing the lawn, it’s best to take breaks every 10 minutes. The heavy vibration of motorized tools can actually affect your joints.

5. Don’t just stand there

One of the most common cleaning mistakes arthritis sufferers make is that they simply stand still while doing common chores like vacuuming. Our advice? Walk while you vacuum, even if you have to do so slowly. Standing still and pushing and pulling a heavy machine actually puts undue stress on your back and wrists.

6. Alternate tasks

Switch your tasks around to make sure that you don’t overwork a specific part of your body. For example, if you’re doing vacuuming today, which can be stressful on your back and wrists, try dusting or organizing closets the next day to give your body a break.

Again, if the prospect of spring cleaning can seem a little daunting, don’t be afraid to ask for help. A friend, caregiver or family member is likely willing to help you.

Dr. Arthritis Shares: New Vaccine Could Block Arthritis Pain

The idea that something as simple as a vaccine could prevent the pain of arthritis among sufferers may seem like a distant possibility.  However, promising results in mice studies show it could soon become a reality.

Oxford University researchers have developed a vaccine against the NGF (nerve growth factor), which causes pain among osteoarthritis sufferers. In the study, conducted among mice showing symptoms of painful arthritis, the vaccine effectively triggered the immune system to work against the mice’s naturally occurring NGF.

“This is the first successful vaccination to target pain in osteoarthritis, one of the biggest healthcare challenges of our generation,” said co-lead author Professor Tonia Vincent, a researcher at the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology at the University of Oxford as reported by Sci News.

Osteoarthritis pain has been known to cause significant social and economic burden, with less than 25% of patients having access to adequate pain control. Image source: OpenStax / CC BY 4.0

Still in its early stages, the study has to consider numerous safety issues before it can be reliably tested among human subjects. But researchers believe that the vaccine design will ultimately allow medical professionals to control antibody levels and tailor treatment according to individual cases and need.

“I’m happy to see the vaccine platform perform so well, and look forward to seeing the vaccine enter clinical testing in companion animals,” adds co-lead author Professor Martin Bachmann, from the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford and the University of Bern.

The study was published in the Annals of Rheumatic Diseases. For further reading, click here.

 

Dr. Arthritis Shares: Findings Point to Possible Breakthrough In Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment

breakthrough in arthritis treatment

Researchers from the University of Virginia School of Medicine made a promising and potentially groundbreaking breakthrough in arthritis treatment that could explain the painful flare-ups associated with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Their findings could lead to better treatment options for one of the most common forms of arthritis today.

RA, an autoimmune disorder, is recognized as one of the most common forms of arthritis. It is a chronic, progressive disease that causes inflammation in the joints, resulting in immobility and deformity, especially in the fingers, wrists, feet, and ankles.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons/ US Gov

The findings were discovered unexpectedly in the course of their research into the causes of inflammation for inflammatory arthritis.

In their study, research scientist Sanja Arandjelovic, PhD found that deleting a gene called ELMO1 actually alleviated arthritis symptoms in mice without causing other problems. Originally, the team thought that the loss of this gene would actually increase inflammation.

“This was a complete surprise to us initially. I love those kinds of results, because they tell us that, first, we did not fully comprehend the scientific problem when we began exploring it, and, second, such unexpected results challenge us to think in a different way. Given that rheumatoid arthritis affects millions of people worldwide, we felt the need to understand this observation better,”  adds Kodi Ravichandran, Chairman of UVA’s Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Cancer Biology.

According to a Science Daily report, the laboratory is now seeking to identify drugs that could inhibit the function of ELMO1 and is also designing a test for the variation (also called polymorphism) in the ELMO1 gene.

“This is another example of how fundamental basic research can lead to novel discoveries on clinically relevant problems that affect a large number of people,” Ravichandran notes.

To read more about visit University of Virginia School of Medicine or check out Nature Immunology.

 

Dr. Arthritis Tips: A Handy Guide to Achieving Better Rest

One of the most frustrating things about living with chronic pain is that managing it can be exhausting. Yet no matter how tired we feel throughout the day, sleep will still evade us at night.

So we thought this infographic below might help.

This was created based on the most popular relaxation tips and tricks this community has shared with us through the years to help them achieve a restful night’s sleep. Print it out and give it a try.

 

And if you have more to add, leave us a comment below!

 

Dr. Arthritis Asks: How to Choose the Right Wrist Support for Your Needs

If you clicked on this post, then you probably know you need some sort of additional wrist support. But there are so many to choose from. You have options ranging from light, airy cotton material, copper infused fabrics, braces with splints, heavier ones with adjustable straps, and so on.

Most can be used interchangeably between numerous hand and wrist ailments; but typically, one of them will prove to be the best option for a specific symptom that you want to address. The question now is: which one do I actually need?

Take a look at our guide to choosing the wrist support—

For Sports—

If you’re looking to add additional support for your wrists while playing a sport, look for one that is light and flexible. A lot of athletes or sports enthusiasts choose a wrist sleeve that offers ample support on the wrist using light, but durable cotton materials.

For additional support, a heavier brace with adjustable straps may help. The important thing is that your wrist remains flexible enough to play but is properly supported through strenuous movement.

Take note however that sleeves and braces are not meant for severe wrist injuries. Major strains, sprains, and broken bones should not be treated using flexible wrist supports and need proper medical attention and ample time to rest and heal.

For injury and recovery—

Heavier braces that are meant to immobilize your wrist joint are usually recommended if you’re recovering from an injury.  These sturdier and larger wrist guards are adjustable, which helps accommodate swelling in the affected area.

Look for something that comes with a splint as this helps keep your wrist in a stable position. Carpal tunnel braces usually a good option as they come with a splint to limit your hand and wrist mobility and protect it—especially at night when you tend to bend your wrists in your sleep.

For chronic hand and wrist conditions—

Choosing the right wrist support for chronic conditions will largely depend on the condition that you’re using it for.

The light control provided by wrist sleeves are typically enough for those who suffer from mild symptoms of arthritis, carpal tunnel, tendonitis, tendinopathy, or wrist pain.

Moderate support provided by wrist supports made with flexible, stretchy material but with featured adjustable straps are a go-to option for those who suffer from the persistent and chronic symptoms of the conditions mentioned above.

Firm control is required when you want to manage more serious conditions that need your hand to remain immobile to relieve pain symptoms or swelling. For example, carpal tunnel wrist braces equipped with adjustable straps and a splint are best for those with carpal tunnel syndrome. We recommend wearing them through the night so you get proper protection for your wrist as you sleep.

Another option would a thumb splint, which is a brace specifically meant to limit the movement of your thumb and reduce symptoms for basal thumb arthritis, manage thumb ligament issues, trigger thumb, repetitive strain injury (RSI), or De Quervain’s tenosynovitis.

One last thing…

While wrist sleeves, supports, splints, and braces have proven to be effective in treating and managing common wrist injuries and specific conditions, it’s always best to seek expert medical help to find your best course of treatment.

If you have any questions or would like to ask us about our products, do leave us a message in the comment section below and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can .

 

Dr. Arthritis Asks: Do Your Bones Ache in Cold Weather?

A few days ago, a polar vortex caused US cities to become colder than Antarctica, Alaska, and Siberia. Amid this unexpected and historic winter phenomenon, it seems as good a time as any to talk about how much cold weather really affects joint pain. If you ask yourself, “do your bones ache in cold weather?” What would the answer be?

Chicago, dubbed “Chiberia” as the 2019 polar vortex sends the city into a deep freeze.

What science says…

To date, there’s a big debate as to whether cold and damp weather increases our susceptibility to arthritis symptoms like pain.

Last year, a 2018 study used smartphones to gather data on self-reported pain levels in the context of local weather data. While final results have yet to be published, initial research already shows that there’s a correlation between poor weather conditions and increased joint pain.

However, a 2017 study found no direct effect between increased rainfall and joint or back pain. In the study, investigators concluded that “the tendency of people to perceive patterns where none exist” may explain the persistent belief that joint or back pain is associated with rainfall.”

What your body tells you…

Anecdotally however, most, if not all, will say that colder weather will almost instantly guarantee stiffer and more painful joints.

Arthritis affects people all year round, but more so when rainy season starts, and especially when winter sets in. In fact, a study involving people who dealt with chronic pain showed that 67.9 percent of the subjects were sure the weather had an effect on their pain. Most note a change in the level of their pain even before the rain pours or the breeze blows colder.

How? Further scientific speculation believes barometric pressure or atmospheric pressure may have something to do with it. The force exerted onto a surface by the atmosphere is greatly felt on bones and joints that are already more sensitive due to conditions like arthritis. So when the weather changes, and the temperature begins to drop, the barometric pressure drops as well, thus affecting arthritic bones and joints.

Either way…

It’s important to remember that awareness about your arthritis symptoms is the key to managing your illness better. So read up and learn about what you can do – and rest assured that whether or not your bones ache in cold weather, you have numerous options that you can try. A thing you can do to release pain is to use compression gloves.

Dr. Arthritis Shares: 3 Ways to Prevent Stress and Keep It At Bay

Can stress cause inflammation? Yes. And when you happen to have a chronic condition, it will have a significant impact on how you manage your illness.  This is why it’s so important to prevent stress.

For anyone who suffers from osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, stress can cause you to feel increased pain, make you more prone to flare ups, and overall, make it more difficult to cope with the challenges the condition imposes on your way of life. While researchers still don’t fully understand how stress affects arthritis, scientists theorize that the overproduction of cytokines during moments of stress cause inflammation in the body.  In addition, stress can add to muscle tension, which affects your joints and increase pain.

Unfortunately, stress is an inevitable part of life. And people who deal with arthritis have no choice but confront the same kind of stress that healthy people face on a daily basis, on top of the daily challenges their illness presents. That said, being an arthritis sufferer means you have to be more conscious of how stress affects your body. You don’t want every little thing—traffic, bad weather, or missing your alarm—to send your stress levels to skyrocket. And in the same way that you’ve developed techniques and strategies to help you manage your illness better, you also have to learn ways to manage daily stress and prevent it from compounding an already difficult chronic condition.

Here’s our simple guide to doing just that—

Prevent stress tip #1: Give yourself a positive mantra

Something as simple as saying positive phrases and saying them out loud to affirm your outlook can help a lot in terms of managing stress. Pause, take a deep breath, and remind yourself of your courage and your strength.

This is something that lot of arthritis sufferers tend to overlook, especially since the burden of our illness can be very overwhelming. But once in a while, it’s important to remind yourself that you are stronger and more resilient by going through what others can only imagine.

Prevent stress tip #2: Get as much exercise as you can

Working out, even if it’s something as simple as gentle stretching or low impact, leisurely walks, is a great way to manage tension. Remember, exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous or hard to be effective. Whether you go for a relaxing swim or join a yoga class, exercise helps you burn off excess energy to help you sleep at night and gives you a boost of much needed endorphins, which helps improve your mood. Our advice? Try to stick to a regular routine—not only are you doing something to manage tension build-up, you’re also strengthening your joints at the same time.

Prevent stress tip #3: Give yourself a break

Arthritis sufferers tend to put a lot of pressure on themselves—consciously and unconsciously. You make an effort to not be a burden to loved ones given your new limitations; you worry about how your limited mobility will affect you and your family down the line; and you constantly stress about the pain and hassle that bad days inevitably bring. But you need to give yourself a break. Sure, arthritis can be a debilitating and challenging disease, but it’s one that we can manage.

Take a step back and focus on what you can do instead of what you can’t. And never be afraid or embarrassed to ask for help. Family and friends are more than willing to lend a hand and be there for you.

Do you have any tips on how to manage stress as an arthritis sufferer? Do share it with and leave us a comment below.

Dr. Arthritis Shares: Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Delay Treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Symptoms

It starts off with a little tingling on your fingers. It comes and goes—sometimes it’s so subtle that most people who experience it tend to brush it off. And then you notice the tingling has become more frequent…and is accompanied by numbness. Your hand feels weaker…sometimes you even get bursts of pain.

These could all be carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms.  The condition occurs when the median nerve—the nerve that runs down the length of your arm to your hand—is compressed and becomes swollen.

Classic carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms usually affect your thumb, index finger, middle finger and half of the ring finger. The little finger is typically not affected because a different nerve serves it. And the condition can easily be diagnosed with a simple physical exam.

The key is in recognizing carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms early. The longer you leave symptoms untreated, the higher the chances of permanent nerve damage.  

What are the early signs?

Carpal tunnel symptoms tend to come and go. But over time, especially when you ignore early signs, they occur more often and can gradually intensify.

  • Symptoms start out slowly with tingling, numbness, or a burning sensation creeping through your thumb and fingers (except your pinkie). The tingling sensation may also travel up your forearm.
  • Because people usually sleep with their wrists bent, it adds pressure on the median nerve and as a result, symptoms are more common during the night.
  • As your condition worsens, symptoms begin manifesting during the day as well—often during activities that require you to bend your wrists for long periods of time such as driving, or holding your phone.
  • You notice that your grip and ability to pinch starts to get affected—you begin to drop things more often as your hand feel weaker; it becomes harder to handle small objects; or even something as simple as making a fist becomes more difficult.

When should you call a doctor?

Once the symptoms above begin to manifest more often and on a more regular basis, you have to seek expert opinion from a medical professional.

Mild cases usually entail resting your hand or wearing a brace or splint or a Carpal Tunnel Wrist Brace to help relieve carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms. More advanced cases, usually due to patients ignoring the early signs, may require steroid injections, or surgery to help release the ligament that’s putting pressure on the median nerve.

Carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms won’t just go away. Without treatment, you could end up with permanent nerve damage and your symptoms could become more pervasive. So if you’re already exhibiting these early symptoms, be sure to schedule an appointment with a trusted physician to get an accurate diagnosis.

Dr. Arthritis Shares: Do You Have These Carpal Tunnel Symptoms?—Take This Quiz

Do you think you have carpal tunnel syndrome? When it comes to self-diagnosing yourself and figuring out whether or not you should seek professional help, take note—it’s pretty hard to tell. Carpal tunnel symptoms start out gradually. And it’s easy to mistake early symptoms as something else or to dismiss them altogether.

If you suspect that you may have carpal tunnel syndrome, take our brief quiz below as a first step towards getting the help and treatment that you need—

Please check all that apply:

o   I frequently feel tingling or numbness in the palm of my hand or fingers.

o   The tingling and numbness I feel can range from uncomfortable to painful.

o   I feel symptoms in all of my fingers, except the pinky.

o   There are times when I can’t feel hot or cold.

o   My hand and arm feels stiff in the morning.

o   My pain seems to escalate at night.

o   There are times when gripping objects can be difficult.

o   My hand/s have experienced a significant loss of strength.

o   My fingers feel swollen when they’re visibly not.

o   My hand and wrist start to itch for no apparent reason.

o   I have experienced a burning sensation in hands.

o   I seem to be dropping things more often.

o   I find it hard to make a fist.

o   I recently experienced wrist trauma or injury.

o   My work requires me to do repetitive things using my hand—such as typing or operating heavy vibrating machinery.

Did you check 5 or more things off this list? If yes, it’s very likely that you are exhibiting early carpal tunnel symptoms. Start observing your symptoms a little more closely and see if they persist within the next two weeks.

If they do, then it’s definitely time to visit a trusted physician. Explain all the symptoms you checked above and your medical history so they can help you determine your best course of treatment. And if you have any questions that you think we can help you with, leave us a message in the comment section below.

Dr. Arthritis Shares: New Year Resolutions for Arthritis Sufferers

We’re a few days shy of 2019—which means it’s time for New Year resolutions.

For arthritis sufferers, this is a great time to take stock of how far you’ve come in terms of learning how to manage your illness better. It’s also the perfect opportunity to start making healthy lifestyle changes that can help make living with arthritis easier.

Get the ball rolling towards a healthier, (hopefully) pain-free 2019 with the following New Year resolutions:

1. Make a conscious effort to improve your diet

Your diet plays a critical role in how well you’re able to manage your arthritis. Certain foods make your more prone to inflammation and flare ups; while others help keep symptoms at bay. In addition, maintaining an ideal body weight can help minimize the pressure on your joints and greatly reduce arthritis pain.

Start simple. Add more fruits and vegetables in your diet whenever possible and cut back on fatty meats and junk food. For more information, check out this quick video below.

2. Get moving and start exercising

A lot of arthritis sufferers tend to balk at this suggestion. Understandably, when your joints are stiff and painful, the last thing you want is to move around and exacerbate your symptoms. However, exercise is critical to maintaining healthy joints, even if you do already exhibit symptoms of arthritis.

Keep in mind as well that exercising doesn’t mean you have to train heavily. Walking, even for just a few minutes a day, is a great way to strengthen the supporting tissues of your affected joints. Gentle stretching, cycling, and swimming are also great alternatives to traditional exercises that don’t add more stress on your joints.

3. Remember that there’s nothing wrong about asking for help when you need it

It takes time to adjust to the idea that your illness may limit your independence. But keep reminding yourself that asking for help when you need it is not a sign of weakness; nor are you considered a burden if you do. In fact, it’s likely that friends and family will appreciate you opening up to them about your condition.

Arthritis is a condition that’s very hard to articulate to someone who doesn’t have it—which is why a lot of sufferers tend to feel isolated and alone, often leading to depression. Opening up and asking for help is one of the simple ways to avoid this.

4. Try to get more sleep

We know—this is one of the more ironic parts of living with arthritis. You’re tired all the time because your arthritis prevents you from sleeping, yet sleep is critical to minimizing your symptoms.

While this is a challenging reality that all arthritis sufferers have to deal with, this year, make sure that you do what you can get more rest despite your illness. Assign a regular bed time and make sure you tuck yourself in bed at the same time every day. Make sure your bed is a haven for rest and relaxation—don’t keep your gadgets such as your laptop of smartphone within arms reach so you don’t end up reaching for it late at night. Talk to your doctor if your sleepless nights could be caused by medication.

What about you? What New Year Resolutions that can help manage your arthritis better are on your list this year? Feel free to comment and share them below.

Dr. Arthritis Tips: What Can You Do To Make This Year a Pain-Free Holiday?

The holidays are traditionally a season to look forward to. It’s a time best spent with family and friends; best enjoyed with good food, and celebrated in the spirit of revelry and fun.

When you have arthritis however, it also means more flare ups, more fatigue (as if it was possible to get even more fatigued than we already are), and even more stress.  As any arthritis sufferer would know, this is simply inevitable when you suffer from chronic pain. But there are ways to manage it so you can properly get into the holiday spirit.

1. Instead of wrapping, opt to use gift bags

A lot of people love the idea of carefully wrapping presents for their loved ones. Unfortunately, this isn’t possible anymore when your hand suffers from stiff and aching joints. If you have the option to have your gifts wrapped at the store, do so. Otherwise, opt for gift bags instead.

2. Use net lighting or projector lights instead of traditional string lights

Twinkle lights are a trademark staple of the holidays. But it’s difficult to hang them around your home when you’re in pain. Visit your local crafts store and look for net lighting, which allows you to simply hang and drape your lights instead of having to carefully put them up one by one. If that’s even too much trouble, you can opt for projector lights to get you in the holiday spirit. All you have to do is simply plug and project it on any flat surface.

3. Choose disposable baking materials

Cooking is such a huge part of the holidays; but simply lifting heavy glass dishes or cast iron pans can take its toll on your wrists. If you must cook, give your hands a break by using disposable foil bake ware instead. Not only is it lighter, it also saves you from the hassle and stress of having to clean up after.

4. Boost your holiday mood with color

Even if you have to skip a lot of the usual holiday activities, it’s no reason to keep yourself from getting into the full holiday mood. Research actually shows that simply wearing bright colors such as red and green–staples of the holiday–can help boost your energy.

5. Try online shopping

Anything outside of your daily obligations can already be too much for a lot of arthritis sufferers. Imagine having to do extra shopping during the holiday rush. As an alternative, try online shopping. Avoid holiday crowds and long queues and finish your holiday shopping in the comfort of your own home.

Any tips that you’d like share on how to enjoy stress and pain free holidays? Share it with us by leaving a comment below.

Dr. Arthritis Shares: These Small Adjustments Can Make A Huge Difference for Arthritis Sufferers

Sometimes, an arthritis diagnosis can be so overwhelming that we overlook the fact that there are numerous things we can do to make our life easier. In fact, the smallest tweaks to our daily routine can make a world of difference.

Here are a few that you should consider—

1. Use handy tools and aids designed to improve your mobility

There a lot—and we mean a lot—of available gadgets, aids, accessories, and tools available today that’s meant to help you move through daily life faster and easier.

For example, most hand arthritis sufferers swear by those cheap, plastic car key covers that slip right over the top. It makes the key easier to grip, making it so much easier to twist when you start the car or lock your doors.  And compression gloves or sleeves have proven to be useful during colder seasons when our joints seem to get extra stiff and painful.

For a  full list of suggested tools and aids, click on our previous posts below—

2. Consider swapping soda for water

Remember that it’s important to maintain a healthy weight when you have arthritis to ease the load on your joints.

One of the simplest ways to do this is to swap out your soda for water. Water can help prevent incessant snacking and curb your appetite. In addition, chemicals in soda are said to cause your appetite to spike, not to mention the volume of processed sugar that soda contains.

3. Remind your pharmacist to use arthritis-friendly caps for your prescriptions

Most medicine bottles come in child-safe, tamper-proof caps for safety. But they can be very difficult to open for arthritis sufferers. Remember to inform your pharmacist about your condition and always request them to not use childproof caps when you go refill your medicine.

Just be sure to keep your medication in a safe place away from the reach of children.

4. Keep a hot and cold pack handy

Warm and cold compresses are your friends. If you need to bring down swelling of a particular joint, grab the ice pack and place it gently on the affected area. It should numb the spot, reduce inflammation, and bring down swelling—which is especially useful during a flare.

If your joints are feeling stiff, apply a warm compress on your joint and it should help stimulate blood circulation and flow.

5. Switch to satin sheets and pajamas

With our condition, it’s hard to even do the most basic things—like getting in and out of bed or our pajamas.

We typically opt for cotton for our bed sheets and sleepwear because it’s airy and cool. But a smoother fabric, like satin, would allow you to literally slip in and out of bed easily without having to fight the covers or change your clothes quickly without struggling. 

For more tips and guidelines, be sure to follow our Facebook page, or check out our blog regularly. And as always, if you wan to share more tips on how you can better manage your arthritis, feel free to add to this list below.

 

Dr. Arthritis Tips: Boost Your Energy With These Tips

We can be as optimistic as we possibly can despite our illness but the truth is, positivity can only do much for our arthritis. The truth is, dealing with muscle and joint pain, fatigue, and going about our days trying to mask our discomfort, is enough to wipe us out and zap what little energy we have to spare.

So what can we do about it?

The good news is, there are some home remedies for arthritis and lifestyle changes that you can try to incorporate into your daily routine to put a spring back in your step.

Fight Fatigue with Fitness

Staying active and making an effort to stay fit can make a very big difference for your energy levels. We know this isn’t always possible when you have deal with aching and stiff joints. In fact, it’s probably the last thing on your mind. But even the smallest effort can make a world of difference.

We recommend starting small. You don’t have train for a marathon or bench press your bodyweight to stay fit. By staying active, we mean going for a walk at a pace you’re comfortable with—even if it’s just for 10 to 15 minutes.  If that’s too much for your load bearing joints, try swimming. The water helps take the pressure off your hips, lower back and knees.

Remember to warm up, even if it’s just for a simple walk. Gentle stretching or marching in place will do the trick.

Again, take it easy on yourself. No matter what activity you choose, start small. Set goals that are achievable given your limitations, but set aside a few minutes of your day to exercise. No matter how little you dedicate to fitness, a few minutes a day is still better than nothing at all. And be sure to consult with your healthcare team. They may be able to recommend specific exercises for you or give you better pointers and guidelines on how to incorporate fitness into your daily routine.

Find a Balance

We often find ourselves overcompensating for a lot of things because of our diagnosis. We fear our loss of independence, so we do more in an effort to prove to ourselves that nothing has changed. We don’t want our loved ones to worry about us, so we go out of our way to hide our pain and discomfort.

This kind of thinking, day in and day out, is exhausting.

Dealing with arthritis is a balancing act—it’s finding the middle ground between staying active and not overusing your already tired, painful joints; it’s getting stuff done, while making sure that you don’t add undue stress to your body; it’s knowing when to push yourself and knowing when to ask for help.

You know your limitations—be honest and acknowledge what you can and cannot do. Listening to your body means you’re in a better position to address its needs. For example, if your work requires you to type all day and you’ve just been diagnosed with arthritis of the hand, don’t ignore aches and pains on your wrist or fingers. Acknowledging it lets you do something about it. Maybe you can try a compression glove to provide additional support, or you can take more frequent breaks and learn some hand exercises.

Set the Stage for a Good Night’s Rest

Trouble sleeping is often one of the most frustrating things about arthritis. It comes with the territory, unfortunately. Pain often wakes you up at night. Arthritis sufferers are also prone to anxiety and depression, causing even more sleepless nights. Sometimes, your medication is to blame for poor-quality sleep.

To address all these, make sure your bedroom is a haven for rest and relaxation. Make an effort to make sure your bedroom is free from gadgets that may distract your from getting a good night’s rest. Invest in a comfortable mattress, high-quality pillows, and light-blocking curtains.

Give your body time to wind down an hour before you go to sleep. Dim the lights, turn off the TV, put your phone on silent. Take a warm bath or shower and curl up with a good book.

Find the Time to Plan Better Meals

Your diet plays a huge part in managing our illness. While there’s no miracle food that you can eat to relieve symptoms and cure arthritis, eating a healthy, balanced diet can help reduce inflammation and fight flare ups.

For more information on this, check out our article here or check out this brief video.

Dr. Arthritis Shares: Don’t Let Arthritis Overwhelm Your Ability to be Grateful

People who live with chronic joint pain can tell you—it’s not always easy to stay positive. While we do have things that we remain grateful for, sometimes, the challenges of our illness can eclipse our sense of gratitude.

Today, more than any time of the year, we wanted to put the spotlight on all the things that we are thankful for. Because while we have no choice but to deal with our pain staying positive and showing gratitude is a conscious option that we can make everyday. It can be hard at times, but if this community has proven anything, it’s that our strength and resilience is so much bigger than our burdens and challenges.

If you need to be reminded of that fact this Thanksgiving, here’s a reminder of the things that continue to be sources of positivity and goodness in our lives—

The support of our family…

If you’re lucky enough to be part of a family that’s loving, supportive, and understanding of what you’re going through, be grateful for the role that they play in your life. The sad fact is that not everyone has that; and if you’re fortunate enough to have them close to you during this holiday, let them know that you appreciate them.

The encouragement of your friends…

It’s true, not everyone in your life understands what it’s really like to live with arthritis. In fact, unless your friends go through the same challenges themselves, it’s unlikely they understand the gravity of what you go through daily. But they try. They let you know that they’re there to lend a hand and or a shoulder to cry on—all you have to do is ask. Because of how isolating arthritis can be, it’s not uncommon for people to lose friends because of arthritis. So if you find yourself surrounded by friends, new and old, make an effort to show your appreciation.

The unconditional loyalty of your pet…

Your pet’s loyalty and devotion is priceless. Sometimes, at the end of the most difficult day, on your worst flare up, your beloved pet nuzzling up to your is all you need to remind yourself that better days are ahead.

The inspiration and insight that arthritis communities offer…

We’re so lucky to be dealing with this condition during a time where it’s easy to find others who know exactly what we’re going through. As much as we appreciate the support of well-meaning friends and family, sometimes, the words of a stranger from across the world, online, telling us that he or she is going through the exact same thing we are, makes us feel less alone as we deal with our illness. Technology allows us to be part of communities that face the same challenges and decisions, gives us a chance to forge new friendships, and lets us find strength and inspiration and when we need it most.

The patience of our caregivers…

Arthritis is a degenerative disease that prompts us to rely on a lot of people. There are days when we resent this—when we feel like our independence was snatched away from us too soon. But somehow, our primary caregivers are always there by our side, helping us get past our limitations, addressing our needs, working through our negativity on bad days, and celebrating our good ones.

The advancements of today’s science…

It can sometimes feel progress for a cure or at least a better way to manage our illness is at a standstill. But treatments for arthritis are improving—from medication to tools and aids, possible surgical interventions to physical therapy. Advancements in this field of study are allowing more people who suffer from various forms of arthritis to continue living life as normally as possible. It’s going to continue to progress—and we can continue to hope that we will find an actual cure for it one day.

The strength that you didn’t even know you had in you…

Finally, and we especially wanted to end with this one—be grateful for the fact that you continue to show strength, resilience, hope, and positivity, in spite of everything that you go through with this illness. It’s not easy.

It would be so easy to just give in to the pain, shut everyone out, and and succumb to the seeming hopelessness of our situation. But arthritis helps us realize that we need to be strong–for ourselves and our loved ones. A lot of people go through their lives oblivious to this fact simply because they tend to take their health for granted. But we know better. Dealing with our illness continues to teach us so much, including our ability to find strength in places where we least expect it.

On that note, Happy Thanksgiving to everyone in this community! And as always, if you have anything to add to this list we’d love to hear all about it so leave us a comment below.

Dr. Arthritis Shares: Arthritis-Friendly Dessert Recipes for Thanksgiving 2018

In an earlier post, we gathered some of our favorite recipes to make sure we all get to enjoy a hearty, sumptuous Thanksgiving this year. But what would Thanksgiving be without dessert?

Of course, as arthritis sufferers, we’re used to skipping this part of the meal to make sure we avoid unexpected flare ups. But you don’t have to if you choose joint-healthy recipes. So we’ve compiled some of the best dessert recipes we’ve tried and you’ve shared with us through the years. Hopefully you’ll find something that you’d want to try and include in your holiday menus—

Apple Cinnamon Bites

It’s so simple to prepare and it’s very low in calories. More importantly, the apple and cinnamon are also loaded with vitamin C that can help reduce inflammation.

1 medium green apple, sliced and cored

¼ tsp cinnamon, ground

Directions:

  1. Arrange apple slices on a serving plate.
  2. Sprinkle evenly with cinnamon and serve immediately.

Blueberry Soup

If you’re looking for something exotic and new to serve this Thanksgiving, try this Scandinavian favorite. Blueberries are loaded with flavonoids called anthocyanins which lends to its trademark tartness and deep blue hue. The same ingredient is responsible for the fruit’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

4 cups of blueberries, washed thoroughly

2 cups water

½ cup sugar

4 tbsp potato starch

Directions:

  1. Combine blueberries, sugar, and water into a deep saucepan and allow mixture to boil.
  2. Mix potato starch with a few drops of cold water—mix and add mixture into the blueberry sauce.
  3. Stir over low hear and allow mixture to thicken.
  4. Pour into serving cups and allow it to cool.
  5. Place cups in the refrigerator to chill until ready for serving.

Dark Chocolate Coated Frozen Bananas

Add this to your list of things to be thankful for—chocolate can help manage inflammation. This much-loved treat contains natural inflammation fighters that make it a welcome addition to any dessert menu.

12 ounces of dark chocolate

1 tbsp coconut oil

3 large bananas, cut into 3

Popsicle sticks

Directions:

  1. Melt chocolate using a double boiler—chop into small pieces and add a tbsp. of coconut oil. Stir until melted and smooth.
  2. Insert a popsicle stick into each banana.
  3. Dip each banana into the chocolate while still warm.
  4. Arrange bananas carefully on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  5. Pop the tray into the freezer and let it set.

 

What’s your go-to, joint-friendly holiday dessert? We’d love to keep this list going so share it with us in the comment section below.

Dr. Arthritis Shares: Arthritis-Friendly Recipes for Thanksgiving 2018

It’s hard to look forward to the holidays when you have to think about what you can and cannot eat. So every year, we here at Dr. Arthritis try to collect our favorite seasonal dishes to share for the upcoming holidays.

This thanksgiving, we’ve selected a collection of traditional Thanksgiving fare that is easy to prepare (read: easy on the joints) and is packed with anti-inflammatory ingredients so you can celebrate pain-free.

If you’d like to take on the task of prepping everything yourself, don’t worry—these recipes are simple, straightforward, and are fairly easy on the joints. But holidays are best spent with loved ones. So we encourage you to get friends and family involved in the whole cooking process.

Spiced Carrots, Garlic Green Beans, and Maple Roasted Beets Appetizer Platter

Here’s an arthritis-friendly Thanksgiving starter that won’t sacrifice flavor and will definitely impress–

Carrots are commonly referred to as nature’s natural energy food, green beans contain loads of beta-carotene and omega 3s that help fight inflammation, and beets offer lots of natural sugar and sweetness to your platter.

Check out our recipe below:

Spiced Carrots

1 dozen whole carrots, rinsed thoroughly, peeled, with the tops removed

¼ cup of olive oil

1 tbsp of red wine vinegar

1 tbsp maple syrup

¼ tsp cinnamon, ground

A pinch of cayenne pepper

Directions:

Whisk all ingredients (except the carrots together) in a small bowl. Drizzle the mixture on your carrots and toss until all pieces are thoroughly coated.

Arrange carefully on one side of a large baking sheet.

Garlic Green Beans

1 lb green beans, washed and trimmed

2 tbsps extra-virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

Directions:

Toss green beans in a bowl with the olive oil and minced garlic.

Arrange carefully on one side of a large baking sheet.

Maple Roasted Beets

1 bunch of red beets, rinsed

2 tbsps of olive oil

1 tbsp of maple syrup

A pinch of sea salt and pepper to taste

Tin foil—big enough to create a small packet for the beets

Directions:

Create a small packet using the tin foil to place the red beets in. Whisk together the olive oil and the maple syrup and drizzle the mixture over the beets. Sprinkle salt and pepper.

Arrange carefully on one side of a large baking sheet along with the other sides to be cooked.

Roasting instructions:

In a preheated oven, bake the entire baking tray with the beets, beans, and carrots for 30-45 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and tender to the touch.

For the beets, once cooked—remove the foil packet and allow to cool. Peel skin carefully and chop into bite-sized pieces.

The Main Dish: Baked Herbed Turkey Breast

This recipe uses white meat, instead of dark, and is roasted with known anti-inflammatory fruits and herbs to create a distinct flavor profile.

1 whole bone-in turkey breast

1 tbsp rosemary leaves, finely chopped

1 tbsp sage, finely chopped

2 tsps salt

1 tsp balck pepper

1 tbsp butter, room temperature

2 tbsps olive oil

1 lemon—juiced

1 orange—juiced

1 cup vegetable stock

Directions:

  1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2.  Place turkey in a roasting pan (skin side up) and place on a baking rack.
  3.  In a small bowl, mix together the herbs, salt and pepper, butter, lemon and orange juice, and olive oil. Whisk together until you form a paste.
  4.  Rub the mixture all over the turkey breast—including underneath the skin.
  5.  Take the vegetable stock and pour into the bottom of the roasting pan.
  6.  Allow the turkey to bake for around 1 and a half to 2 hours or until meat is cooked through and the skin is lightly crisp and thoroughly browned.
  7. Once done, remove the turkey from the oven. Wrap tightly with tin foil and let it rest for 15 minutes.
  8. Once ready, slice the turkey breast carefully and drizzle with the drippings accumulated from baking.

Side Dish Selections

What is a Thanksgiving feast without some choice sides? Here are two recipes that made it to the top of our holiday menu this year.

Broccoli Mashed Potatoes

A healthier spin on a Thanksgiving staple made with potatoes and fortified with broccoli.

4 medium-sized white potatoes

1 small head of broccoli, chopped into small pieces

1 tbsp of butter (can be replaced with ghee or coconut oil if preferred)

2 tbsps of ricotta cheese (can be replaced with cottage cheese)

½ tsp of dried dill

A pinch of sea salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Boil potatoes over high heat and cook until for tender.
  2. Once cooked,  add the broccoli into the pot and let it cook for an additional minute. Allow the broccoli florets to turn a bright green before draining.
  3. Place both the potatoes and the broccoli in a large bowl and mash until smooth—if you’re enlisting the help of friends and family, this might be a good task to delegate. Otherwise, you can also choose to use a blender or food processor.
  4. Once smooth, add in the butter and cheese. Keep mixing and mashing until everything is well incorporated.
  5. Finish off with the dill and salt and pepper.

Shredded Red Cabbage

A known ingredient that is loaded with antioxidants, braising this holiday staple is a great addition to any holiday meal.

1 small red cabbage, remove the core and sliced thinly

1 small white onion, sliced thinly

2 cups apple cider

1 cup water

2 cups red wine vinegar

1 tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp ground nutmeg

1 small apple, remove the core and sliced thinly

A pinch of sea salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Toss all ingredients, except the apple, in a large baking dish or dutch oven pot and cover  tightly. Mix well and allow the mixture to bake for around an hour.
  3. Remove the dish from the oven and add apples.
  4. Bake for another hour or until the cabbage is very tender and the apples have dissolved into the mixture.
  5. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste and serve.

 

Be sure to watch out for our next post–we’ll be sharing arthritis-friendly dessert recipes you can try for Thanksgiving 2018.

Dr. Arthritis Tips: Make Sure Your Caregivers Avoid Burnout

When it comes to caregiving, remember: the best way to take care of someone else is to take care of yourself first.

While we often share tips and write about our own experiences of what it’s like to live with arthritis, we’d like to flip things around a bit today and talk about the caregivers who help us through its challenges.

Caring for someone who suffers from chronic pain can be rewarding, true. But let’s be honest—it can also take a mental, emotional, and physical toll on anyone. That said, caregivers become very prone to burnout. And recognizing the signs early on makes you better equipped to address it.

A caregiver may be experiencing burnout if they are exhibiting the following—

  •      Trouble sleeping
  •      Low energy
  •      Inability to relax
  •      Getting sick often
  •      Exhibits feeling of hopelessness, sadness, or anger
  •      Shorter temper and patience
  •      Growing feelings of resentment towards the person you’re caring for
  •      Withdrawing from friends and family
  •      Loss of interest in normally enjoyable hobbies
  •      Changes in eating habits

As a caregiver, if you’re starting to exhibit any of these symptoms take note of these tried and tested ways to prevent and deal with burnout—

1. Speak to someone

Find someone who you can open up to—a friend, family member, or colleague. If you feel like you could benefit from professional help, speak to a therapist or counsellor. There is no shame in speaking to someone who perfectly understands what you’re going through and can listen.

2. Write it down

Laying it all out on paper is a good way to release pent up thoughts and emotions. Write it all down and get it out. You’d be surprised at how much something as simple as this can help.

3. Join a support group

There are a lot of people out there who share the same struggles and challenges as you. They understand your challenges as a caregiver and can share their own anecdotes and stories. These groups are a great way to meet people who understand exactly what you’re going through and make you feel less isolated.

4. Set aside time for yourself

Just because you’re a caregiver doesn’t mean you can’t dedicate time to yourself. Ask if there’s a friend or family member who can relieve you of your duties. Even something as simple as taking a short break to drink a cup of tea or soaking in the tub can be a good way to enjoy some me time.

5. Stay healthy and learn to laugh

Your ability to provide care and support for someone who suffers from chronic pain is hinged on your own well-being—so be sure that you take care of it. Eat healthy, exercise when you can, get lots of sleep and learn to laugh.

Any caregiver tips that you’d like to share? Feel free to share it with us below.

Advice from Dr. Arthritis: How To Best Explain Rheumatoid Arthritis to Your Children

Once you’ve been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), it will inevitably become part of your life—and your kids will notice. Maybe you won’t be able to play with them as often as you did before–or at all. These changes may incite fear and uncertainty. It’s likely to prompt a lot of stress and confusion.

RA is hard enough to understand as it is—explaining it to your children, given the overwhelming emotions, can be even harder.  How do you even begin to broach a topic as tricky as your diagnosis? What does it mean for you and for them? What is the best way to go about it?

In our years dealing with patients and the condition ourselves, we thought mapping out a basic guide on how to best go about this would be helpful.

1. Don’t make a big deal out of it

To be clear, RA is a very big deal. But if you play it out that way when you break the news and explain it to your family, it’s going to be twice as overwhelming for both you and your loved ones.

Try not to make too much out of it and raise it casually instead of gathering everyone for a family meeting. Choose a moment where everyone is calm and relaxed—for instance, during a drive, or over dinner.

2. Listen to their questions

After you’ve said your piece, focus on what your children have to say. They will likely be curious, confused, and worried. Answer their questions as best as you can and be prepared. Read up about your condition and learn what you can from your doctor so you can answer as comprehensively as possible.

3. Consider the age of your kids and approach your answers accordingly

Your children will be by your side as you go through flares, undergo treatment, and when you achieve remission. You want to be able to offer reassurance and gain their support by getting a conversation started.

For young children of pre-school age

They will first notice your resistance or inability to do things that you used to do with them, such as playing. Once they do,  sit them down and tell them about your RA in simple words that they will be able to relate to.

No need to use medical or technical terms. Young children have very limited vocabularies and may need a combination of both visual  and verbal explanation. For example, you can try pointing to your knee or elbow and saying “I have a boo-boo here and we can’t play right now.”

For kids in elementary school

It’s common for kids this age to blame themselves for what’s making you sick. Reassurance is key here—so be sure to let them know that you have RA, but explicitly say that it wasn’t because of anything they did.

Provide alternatives to activities that you once did together. For example, if you and your kids used to play football together, tell them that while you can’t play ball right now, you’d be happy to catch the latest game on TV together.

For teens

Start the conversation by simply asking them what they know about RA. From there, address what they know and reassure them that the condition is not fatal. 

Tell them that despite your new limitations, it won’t change your relationship with them.  Let them know that you will need to rely on them more, especially when it comes to chores.

 

Remember, your goal here is to address any confusion, fear or stress that usually comes after diagnosis. As much as you’d like to think that your RA diagnosis will affect only you, keep in mind that there are people around you who love and depend on you. Let your kids in and don’t isolate yourself. They can provide a lot of support and motivation as you learn to manage your condition.

Dr. Arthritis Asks: Is There a Positive Side to Living with Arthritis?

Time and again, we ask people to be honest and open up about the pitfalls and challenges of dealing with arthritis. To that end, it becomes so easy to focus too much on the downsides of living with this condition.

When you’re dealing with a disease that creates a massive physical, emotional, and mental burden, it can get the best of you. So we thought we’d switch things up a bit and explore the positive side of living with arthritis.

When it comes to arthritis, there are more bad days than good. We get that. But we’ve always been advocates of staying positive, hopeful, and optimistic. In fact, in our interactions with the brave souls who are part of this community, we’ve managed to collect some anecdotes that show us there is an unexpected silver lining to our diagnosis—

You learn to be more open and outspoken

How often to do we live our lives trying our hardest to please others and not rock the boat? We don’t speak up because we’re self-conscious about what people may think.

Dealing with a condition where you have no choice but to say something or it takes physical, emotional, and mental toll on you teaches you to be more outspoken. You learn to ask for help when you need it without feeling guilty or sorry for yourself. You develop courage to speak up for your needs as well others who are dealing with the same thing as you are.

You learn to love yourself and your limitations

Learning to love yourself, flaws and all, is hard enough when you’re a healthy, fully functional human being without a chronic disability or autoimmune condition. Imagine how much more difficult it is when you’re diagnosed with a degenerative condition that’s prompting you to change your lifestyle significantly.

When you have arthritis, you have no choice but to acknowledge what your body can and cannot do. You learn to seek out now hobbies and new passions and find fulfilment in this modified way of life. But you can always try arthritis compression gloves that have infused with copper mesh,  or a knee support.

You focus more on health

Arthritis requires dietary and lifestyle changes to keep it under control. Typically, it requires sufferers to cut back on processed meats, alcohol, and junk food. It also encourages you to keep moving and exercising (whenever possible) to keep your bones and joints more limber and strong.

To that end, a lot of arthritis sufferers find that their new diet and lifestyle has helped them manage their weight better. They also find themselves with a lot more energy simply because they’re eating better and trying to incorporate exercise in their daily routine.

What about you? If you could share something positive out of all the challenges that you’ve gone through since diagnosis, what would it be? We’d love to hear your stories so we can continue to inspire the members of this community.

Dr. Arthritis Tips: 6 Ways You Can Save Money On Arthritis Costs

As if it wasn’t enough that we have to deal with physical pain, emotional stress, and mental duress, arthritis is also known for the profound financial impact it makes on sufferers lives.

Statistically, medical care costs and earnings losses have reached up to $303.5 billion in the US alone. So are there ways to help manage your finances better if you suffer from arthritis? Try these tips below:

1. Check your coverage

Clarify exactly what your insurance covers when it comes to your condition. Avoid surprises. Arthritis flare ups can send you running to the ER in the most unexpected moments. If you don’t know exactly what your insurance company is able to cover, you might end up having to pay for unexpected medical bills.

Take the time to call your insurance provider and check your medical policy. Take notes if you have to. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

2. Set up a flexible spending account (FSA)

Check if your employer offers an FSA. This basically means you can set aside a portion of your pay check automatically so you can save for any out-of-pocket medical costs. Consult your HR and inquire about the program.

If they don’t, you can always do this yourself. Set aside a portion of your salary as an emergency out-of-pocket fund.

3. Don’t throw out any paperwork

Did you know that 16% of people can lose money or may incur unnecessary charges simply because they weren’t able to present the paperwork required? When you have a condition like arthritis, be sure to keep all your receipts and important documents, even those from buying compression gloves or knee supports. And don’t just dump it all in one box either. Keep it organized. Segregate prescriptions, insurance documents, medical and pharmacy receipts and other important paperwork. You never know when you might need to present proof for tax exemptions or if you need to present proof that you actually already settled the bill for a certain procedure.

Keep in mind though, that because policies are renewed annually, be sure to shred expired paperwork to avoid confusion.

4. Double check referrals

If your medical practitioner or healthcare team refers you to another specialist, be sure that they are included in your plan first; otherwise, you might have to pay for new fees or unnecessary medical bills. Double check with your insurance company.

5. Go generic

Generic drugs will cost less versus their brand-name counterparts. If you’re prescribed an over-the-counter brand name medication, check with your doctor if a generic version is available and if you can opt for that instead.

6. Open up if there are financial constraints

It’s best to have an open line of communication between yourself and your healthcare team. Let them know if you don’t necessarily have the financial resources to get all the medicine and tests or treatment that they are offering. This way, your doctor can help you find a more suitable and appropriate treatment plan without sacrificing efficacy.

If you’ve been dealing with arthritis for as long as we have, I’m sure you also have your own cost saving tips that you can share. We’d love to hear all about it. Leave a comment below and tell us about it.

Dr. Arthritis Shares: What To Do After You’ve Just Been Diagnosed

Before you were diagnosed with arthritis, it probably never occurred to you that one day you would get sick and never get better.

The thought you of you now having to live with a condition that will slowly progress and get worse over time, is overwhelming. The idea that you eventually have to give up doing things you love is devastating. The thought that it may reach a point where you become so dependent on others that you become a burden is crushing.

Needless to say that finally identifying the reason behind your symptoms can send your emotions spinning out of control.

Of course, now, after learning how to live with our condition for years, we realize that it wasn’t as hopeless as we perceived it to be. And in retrospect, it would have been helpful if someone helped us through the immediate, post-diagnoses stage. So we thought this might help. Here are our tips to help you handle your new diagnosis—

1. Learn everything you can about your condition

A lot of people tend to avoid Googling their symptoms for fear of what they might find. But here’s the thing—a doctor has already told you that you have arthritis. You’re not guessing or trying to figure out your symptoms anymore; therefore, there’s less chance of you spiraling into a black hole of paranoia on WebMD. There are simple and effective solutions to live a long and happy life with arthritis. You can use compression gloves or knee supports depending on your arthritis problem.

A lot of the fear and anxiety that you have over your diagnosis stems from the fact that you don’t fully understand the condition. Read about it and learn about the latest research and treatments. If you’re worried about the accuracy of things you find online, gather information you find online and discuss it with your doctor.

2. Find communities and groups going through the same thing

That feeling of isolation arthritis sufferers experience is due to the fact that no one really understands what you’re going through. If you’re lucky, you will have friends and family that are supportive to help get you through the most challenging days. But unless they know exactly what it’s like to have to drag themselves to work on less than two hours of sleep with joints that feel like they’re on fire, then they don’t really get the gravity of your situation.

To better understand what you’re already going through and about to experience with arthritis, seek out groups and communities that go through the same thing. It’s not as difficult as you might think. Our Facebook community, for example is built from a group of thousands who are familiar with everything from the daily annoyance of how painful it is to squeeze shampoo out of a bottle, to the frustration of dealing with 24/7 pain and not being able to schedule an appointment with your physician.  You can also try asking your healthcare provider for recommendations or simply do a quick Google search. You’ll be surprised at how comforting it is to know that there’s a lot more people out there who understand perfectly what you’re going through.

3. Focus on the positives

Yes, this is very hard to do—all things considered. But you have to make a very conscious effort to look on the bright side. Find something that you’re grateful for every day. Try to reframe your situation—it’s important if you want to maintain and improve your sense of well-being.

4. Don’t be too proud to ask for help

We valued our independence before our diagnosis; should it be any different now that we know we have arthritis?  The honest answer is, yes. There will be things that you now won’t be able to do because your body is literally telling you no—expect that. And you have to remember that if you do ask for help, it’s not a sign of weakness. Don’t be too proud to seek it out if you need it–whether you need a literal helping hand, aids and tools, or emotional support.

One final thing—

Take a deep breath.  As you come to terms with your diagnosis, you will realize that you’re not as helpless as you can imagine. Things will be different moving forward, and it will probably turn your life upside down, but it doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about it.

Dr. Arthritis Shares: 8 Celebrities Who Have Arthritis

Here at Dr. Arthritis, we try very hard to bring together people who suffer from arthritis and chronic joint pain to let them know that they are not alone in this.

There are millions around the world who have to deal with the same pain; who live with the same challenges and limitations; and experience the same level of loneliness and isolation. Celebrities are no exception.

Despite the glamour and excitement of the lives they lead, some of these famed actors, actresses, athletes, and personalities still have to live with the same daily struggles that you do.

1. Kathleen Turner

Kathleen Turner, Golden Globe winner and star of films like “Body Heat”, “Crimes of Passion”, “Moonlight and Valentino”, and “The Virgin Suicides” was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) back in 1992.

Since then, she’s undergone 12 surgeries. Despite being told by her physicians that her body would eventually succumb to the disease and eventually land her on a wheel chair, the star was determined to prove them wrong. She turns to pilates twice a week to keep herself strong and active.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Camryn Manheim

Camryn Manheim, Emmy winning star of The Practice with film credits that include cult hits like Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion spent 8 months figuring out what was causing sharp, stabbing pains in her hands.

“When [my doctor] told me it was rheumatoid arthritis I said that’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard. I’m too young. Well, I learned I was mistaken,” she said—a sentiment shared by a lot of RA sufferers upon diagnosis.

 

 

 

 

 

3. Megan Park

Best known for her role as Grace in “The Secret Life of the American Teenager”, Megan Park actually tried to conceal the fact that she had RA for a decade.

“I had all the classic symptoms: extreme joint swelling, different pain, the inability to do certain things that everyone else could,” Park shared in an interview. “That’s when I knew that something wasn’t right.”

When she went public with her diagnosis, it was so others who live with RA would realize that they weren’t alone. “I think it’s opened my eyes to, everybody has a story, essentially. You may not know about it, but everybody has something.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Shaquille O’Neal

NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in his big toe in the early 2000s.

His diagnosis caused him to miss the first 12 games during the 2002-2003 games due to surgery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant was diagnosed with inflammatory arthritis on his knee. Apparently, the arthritic knee was already in such a dire state that it was already bone on bone. This meant that every step Bryant took was excruciating.

“I wondered how I was ever going to play basketball again,” he shared.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Neve Campbell

Star of “Party of Five”, “Scream”, and more recently in “Skyscraper” with The Rock, the now 40 year old actress has been pretty candid about her experience with chronic pain.

“Here, I’ll give you the list,” Neve Campbell shared in an interview. “I’ve had bunions. I’ve had broken toes. I’ve had fallen arches. I’ve had strained tendons in my arches. I’ve had tendinitis in my Achilles’. I’ve had torn ligaments and sprained ankles in both ankles. Shinsplints. Pulled calves. In my knees, I’ve had chondromalacia and tendinitis. I’ve had pulled hamstrings. I’ve had snapping-hip syndrome and arthritis in my hips. I’ve had sciatic problems in my back and the arthritis in my neck. Oh, and I sprained my wrists.

Her condition was caused largely due to the wear and tear caused by her dancing career and continues to speak publicly about the pain her arthritis causes.

 

 

 

 

7. Patrick Stewart

Patrick Stewart is a brilliant actor with an impressive filmography that includes Star Trek and X-Men. He’s also a vocal supporter of alternative medicine to treat and manage severe ortho-arthritis, which he has in both his hands.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. Caitlyn Jenner

Caitlyn Jenner, the former Olympian and reality TV star recently spoke about her struggle with osteoarthritis. Since diagnosis, she experiences chronic knee pain and has had to modify her lifestyle.

“When you have osteoarthritis, you have constant pain- whether you’re walking up and down hills or running after your kids – [so] you always know it’s there […] On the other hand, I have had to give up doing certain things because it’s a degenerative disease. […] I do everything I can to make my life livable and put off a knee replacement as long as possible,” she shared.

Still, she advises others to simply not let the condition get them down. “Try to deal with it as best as you possibly can. If you loved tennis and the old elbow or shoulder is bothering you, and you’re devastated that you can’t continue playing because it’s just too tough, find another passion, go out there and look for another sport. Find something else to do.”

 

 

Putting on a brave face and getting through the day despite aching joints, sleepless nights, and intense fatigue is par for course for anyone who deals with arthritis. Celebrities sharing their experiences with chronic pain due to arthritis help underscore the fact that no matter how isolated you may feel, you are not alone.  And you can always try our knee supports or compression gloves to release your arthritis pain.

Dr. Arthritis Shares: Here’s What Can You Do For World Arthritis Day

Rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs) are notorious for receiving delayed or no diagnosis. World Arthritis Day could change that.

October 12 is meant to bring attention to the fact that early diagnoses for RMDs could not only prevent further deteriorations of your joints, but also improve treatment and intervention—ultimately improving the quality of life of millions of chronic pain sufferers.

So how can you do your part for World Arthritis Day? Check out some of our suggestions below—

1. Be an advocate

World Arthritis Day hopes to influence public policy and make sure decision-makers are aware of the challenges that arthritis and other rheumatic conditions pose for sufferers. Whether you suffer from arthritis or not, we encourage you to be an advocate for yourself or loved ones by signing a petition that supports policies and laws that make healthcare more accessible to more arthritis sufferers.

2. Get Social

Use the hashtag, #ConnectToday and spread the word about World Arthritis Day. Get the word out in your own social circles. Share a treatment or management tip or write some words of encouragement—you’d be surprised at how many people appreciate hearing it straight from people who actually go through the same thing as they do.

3. Tell Your Story

Connect with the arthritis community and share your story. Find a forum, a website, or a community and simply reach out and tell them your personal experience with arthritis. Sharing your struggles and triumphs with your condition is not only informative and insightful for those reading it, it’s also therapeutic for anyone who deals with the disease.

4. Try using arthritis products like  knee supports or compression gloves.

Dr. Arthritis Tips: Avoid These Common OTC Painkiller Mistakes

Managing arthritis symptoms usually mean you depend on a lot of over-the-counter (OTC) remedies, including painkillers. We’ve all taken them so many times that it’s hard to imagine we can still make mistakes when it comes to popping a Tylenol or Aleve.

Turns out however it’s not as straightforward as you think. In fact, there are quite a few things that we get wrong when it comes to taking our go-to OTC medicine. Keep on reading—you’ll be surprised to find out that even you might be making them…

IMPORTANT: Be sure to consult and inform your doctor or healthcare provider what OTC medicine you plan to take.

1. Taking the wrong OTC medicine

It’s easy to purchase OTC medications. In fact, you actually have pretty extensive options to choose from. Given that, it’s not uncommon for chronic pain sufferers to simply select whatever is available at home to help soothe their pain.

Not all painkillers address the same issues however. For example, while taking ibuprofen or aspirin for sciatica may help with mild or occasional pain, it’s simply not strong enough to manage nerve pain.

If you find that OTC medications aren’t doing their job, speak to your healthcare professional about it. They should be able to prescribe something that will provide better relief.

2. Not reading the label warnings

Because they’re available OTC, we tend to take the safety of these medications for granted. However, we strongly advise that you closely read these label warnings. This is where you can find important information about allergic reactions as well as drug or alcohol interactions. It let’s you know basically whether the drug is actually safe for you to take.

Be sure to regularly check labels too. Medication label warnings are sometimes updated. And it’s important to keep reviewing the information, especially if you were just given a new diagnosis or you were given new medication.

3. Not following dosage instructions

OTC medications often come with clear dosage guidelines. But while you may already know that you should never take too much, you should note that taking too small a dose is equally ineffective.

If you were advised to take two, don’t just take one. Dosage for OTC medication is based on multiple factors such as your weight or how quickly the drug takes effect. Again, it’s important that you speak to a doctor or medical professional about this. And be sure to ask for specific instructions on top of dosage, such as frequency; and what to do if the pain doesn’t go away.

4. Not eating before drinking OTC medication

A lot of OTC medications warn that you should take the drug with food. When you don’t, you end up with unexpected side effects such as a stomachache and in rare cases even stomach ulcers.

If the warning label indicates that the medicine be taken on a full stomach, make sure that you follow it.  Moving forward, try pairing dosage with your meals so you never have to worry about taking it on an empty stomach.

5. Taking OTC medication in the wrong form

Keep these in mind—liquid and liquid-gels help relieve pain faster because they are digested faster and absorbed quicker into the bloodstream. But this means that its effects could be faster as well. Alternative fast-acting options are chewable as well as rapid-release tablets. Capsules, hard tablets, and caplets, while equally effective, usually take longer to take effect.

To find out what is best for you and your needs, discuss this with your doctor, healthcare professional, or pharmacist.

Finally, (and this almost goes without saying), don’t ignore the expiration date. Past the indicated expiration date, the drug will start to break down and the maker can no longer guarantee safety or efficacy. If your go-to bottle is past it expiration date, throw it away.

If symptoms persist, you can also try applying a hot or cold compress to help reduce inflammation or using a compression sleeve to help provide support and facilitate better blood flow.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave a message below or join our Facebook community and start a conversation.

Dr. Arthritis Tips: Getting Through the Day at Work When You Have Arthritis

Getting through the day at work, when you’re healthy and don’t have to deal with fatigue and pain, can be challenging unto itself. Imagine then what it’s like for people who suffer from arthritis.

As arthritis sufferers, we go through our daily lives with chronic pain. That pain usually keeps us up at night, which means we feel exhausted the next day. Because arthritis is usually an invisible disability, it’s not uncommon for us to feel isolated and alone. This is further amplified in the workplace, where the pressures of work, general feeling of discontent, and increasing demand to perform and deliver, adds to our day-to-day, physical, emotional, and mental challenges.

In a lot cases, it’s not an option for us to give up our jobs—nor would we want to either.  We value our independence and our ability to find fulfilment in our jobs and careers. So while it is admittedly more difficult to get through the day when you have chronic joint pain, we find a way to make it possible.

Here below are some of our tried and tested tips—

1. Take frequent breaks

Both desk and hard labor jobs typically requires a lot of repetitive motions. Whether it’s typing all day or lifting and bending, these repetitive movements can cause additional stress on already affected joints and make your arthritis pain worse. Manage this by taking small, frequent breaks. Even something as simple as pausing to stretch before getting back to the task at hand can help.

2. Organize your day

We usually feel our symptoms flare up or temper off at specific times during the day. For example, if it’s common for your joints to feel exceptionally stiff and painful in the morning, try to talk to your direct supervisor and see if you can start your day later. Explore flexible time schedules or remote working options as well as they can be ideal solutions to days when you’re too tired to commute to and from the office.

3. Use aids and tools

There is no shame in using aids and tools intended to prevent pain and discomfort as we go about our days. For example, compression sleeves are great for increasing blood flow and providing support to affected joints—especially if you’re on your feet the whole day or sat down for long periods of time. Compression Gloves are especially useful when you’re typing the whole day. You can also try exploring arthritis-friendly office suppliers—perhaps an ergonomic chair or keyboard, and a foot and elbow rest.

4. Open up

Talk to your HR department about challenges and potential problems what you’re going through. More often than not, they will be more than listen and see how they can best accommodate your needs.

It’s important to remember that the limitations your disease imposes on you isn’t a sign of weakness. While maintaining a job when you have arthritis can be challenging—even difficult, on certain days—it’s not impossible. If you have more to share, please feel free to add to this list—this community would greatly appreciate it.

Dr. Arthritis Shares: Arthritis By the Numbers

Often an invisible disability, it’s hard for people who don’t suffer from arthritis to grasp the severity of the condition. So what better way to clearly illustrate how arthritis affects people’s lives than by looking at the numbers and statistics behind it–

1. Latest numbers show that in the US alone, 54.4 million US adults have some form of arthritis.

2. By 2040, there will be approximately 78 million adults (18 years and older) who will have doctor-diagnosed arthritis.

3. Prevalence of arthritis by age group:

  • Most recent statistics show that 7.1 percent of people between 18-44 years have reported doctor-diagnosed arthritis.
  • 29.3 percent of people between 45-64 years old have reported doctor-diagnosed arthritis.
  • Among those 65 years old and older, 49.6 percent have doctor-diagnosed arthritis.
  • Doctor diagnosed arthritis is 26 percent more common in women than in men.

4. In 2015, 15 million adults reported severe joint pain due to arthritis.

5. Arthritis and other rheumatic conditions are a leading cause of work disability among US adults. 1 in 25 adults between 18-64 experience work limitations.

6. 23.7 million adults in the US have to limit their activities due to arthritis.

7. Adults suffering from arthritis are actually 2.5 times more likely to have two or more falls or have a fall related injury compared to those without.

8. Arthritis is actually considered one of the top five most costly conditions for adults 18 years and above.

9. Costs attributed to arthritis can reach up to $140 billion.

10. Lost wages due to arthritis reach an average of $164 billion.

11. 49 percent of adults with heart disease also have arthritis.

12. Arthritis is very strongly associated with depression and sufferers face 18.1 percent higher risk of experiencing it.

13. Arthritis isn’t just a condition experienced by the elderly. Nearly 300,000 babies and children  have arthritis or a rheumatic condition.

14. While difficult considering the pain, physical activity has been known to reduce pain and improve physical function among sufferers by 40 percent.

15. A whopping 172 million work days are lost because of arthritis and other related rheumatic conditions.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of arthritis statistics. But it should give you a pretty clear picture of the gravity and seriousness of the condition. Arthritis isn’t simply about aching joints. It’s not something that sufferers can sleep or shake off. It’s a debilitating condition that has to be managed everyday and it affects everything from livelihoods to personal relationships.

Dr. Arthritis Shares: Don’t Let Arthritis Take You Away From The Things You Love

On top of dealing with chronic pain, sleepless nights, and overwhelming fatigue, the inability to do the things that you love is perhaps the most overwhelming thing that you have to deal with as an arthritis patient.

After diagnosis, you find yourself having to give up a lot of things to manage your disease. Because you don’t want to hold your friends and family back from doing the things you all love, you take a step back and essentially remove yourself from situations where they might have to compromise. And eventually you’re spending more time at home, alone, and feeling helpless about your condition.

As much as we’d like to say that there’s a magical solution to this problem, the truth is, this is a reality that a lot of arthritis sufferers have to face. That’s not to say however, there’s no way around it. Often, you just have to look at the underlying passion that drives your interest for a particular activity or past time, and you’ll find a low-impact, equally enjoyable alternative.

To illustrate, here are some examples on how you can shift your passions while taking it easy on your joints—

1. If you loved playing sports…

Basketball, tennis, volleyball, golf, bowling—whatever sport you were most into may now be too much for your joints to handle. But the spirit of camaraderie and competition that is present in active ball sports are present in other activities as well. Try gathering friends over for game nights. Board games are a great alternative that also lets you spend time with family friends.

2. If you loved expressing creativity by creating art…

There are numerous ways for you to still display your passion for creativity even if you can no longer draw, paint, sculpt, do pottery, or woodwork. Channel your appreciation for the arts by visiting museums and galleries. You can even try volunteering at local art groups or daycares to share your love for the arts and creative skills.

3. If you loved water sports…

Adrenaline-fuelled water sports such as surfing, water skiing, white-water rafting all sound exciting, but sadly, are no longer feasible for anyone suffering from arthritis. That doesn’t mean that you have to completely give up the ocean though. You can try snorkeling or diving; or you can try kayaking (using a lightweight kayak) on gentle waters, which is another activity that’s easy on your lower joints.

4. If you loved gardening…

A lot of people in this community are big fans of gardening. But crouching down low and working with your hands isn’t the easiest activity for your joints. As an alternative, you can try offering your extensive gardening experience to the local botanical garden.

5. If you loved backpacking…

Globe-trotting and backpacking when you have arthritis can be difficult. The long flights, heavy packs, long walks—all these can take a toll on your joints. But you don’t necessarily have to completely give up your love of exploring new cultures and places because of your condition. You just have to prepare more before you do. Plan ahead and make sure that your flights have layovers that will allow you to rest and stretch.

Make sure that you bring aids such as compression sleeves that will help facilitate better blood flow to affected joints during your travel and give you the support you need, especially if there are long flights involved or active activities. Opt for a hotel that’s centrally located to the best sights and attractions. This prevents you from having to walk extended distances with the weight of your entire backpack  on your back.

Make no mistake—arthritis will require you to change your lifestyle. But learning how to cope and recognizing what you can do to make sure that these changes don’t completely disrupt your way of life is key to managing your condition.

Dr. Arthritis Shares: What Grownups Should Know About Juvenile Arthritis

Not a lot of people know that arthritis affects kids too. But in fact, arthritis affects more than 50,000 children in the United States alone.

Officially, the condition is referred to as juvenile arthritis (JA); and it covers numerous chronic, painful, and inflammatory disorders among kids less than 16 years old.       

Like osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) –two of the condition’s most prevalent forms—it can be difficult to diagnose. And because a child’s immune system doesn’t fully develop until they’re 18, an autoimmune form of arthritis is especially difficult to manage.

At this point, you probably have a visual of a young girl or boy, hobbling around like an elderly man or woman. However, like OA and RA, JA’s symptoms go far beyond joint pain. It’s not uncommon for kids to have to deal with psoriasis, eye inflammation, fevers, fatigue, and inflammation of vital organs on top of joint pain—all during a stage of their life where they are expected to be active and energetic.

So as a grown up, how can you give the right kind of support for a child, sibling, or a friend who suffers from JA? Take note of the following:

1. JA is a hidden disability

Arthritis in children is a lot like arthritis in adults. It’s challenging and it’s largely a hidden disability.

Being so young makes it more difficult for their young minds to grasp why they can’t play outside with their friends; why they feel so different from their friends; why their bodies won’t allow them simply be a kid.

Early in life, it’s not uncommon for kids to hide the pain that they feel in an effort to fit in with their peers. They make an effort to smile and pretend everything is OK, when they actually feel intensely tired and in constant pain.

While they make act like everything is OK, be sure to reach out and ask them if they’re actually feeling OK. They could very well be pushing through the pain and doing more than their bodies can handle.

2. It takes a village

You know the old adage that “it takes a village to raise a child?” This is truer when you have child who suffers from JA. A big chunk of their day will be spent in school, and parents can’t really be blamed for worrying about their son or daughter. You wonder if they were pushed too hard during gym class, or if your child is getting teased because of their inability to join in typical kids activities. If they’re falling behind in class, you can’t help but think that it’s because their fatigue is making it hard for them to concentrate in class.

To that end, be sure to let the school and they’re teachers know if they have JA. They don’t have to receive special treatment due to their condition, but it pays to have extra eyes looking out for chronically ill students.

3. Be patient

JA sufferers tend to experience joint pain and extreme tiredness due to their condition. While the world expects children to be full of energy and dynamic, JA kids may need a few concessions. For example, they may need more time to get dressed in the morning. They could walk a little slower going to and from places. They may be slower when it comes to finishing their homework.

It’s important that you make JA sufferers feel included in spite of their condition and the best way to do that is to be patient with them. It’s the little things that count.

Grownups make a big impact in lives of children. A lot of JA sufferers who grow up look back fondly at adults who have shown compassion and understanding for their condition. Simply checking in on how they are doing, and making sure they feel part of the group despite their body’s limitations goes a long way.

Dr. Arthritis Shares: Smoking Worsens Your Arthritis

Let’s get one thing clear—cigarettes are very bad for your health. But if you need one more reason to quit on top the risk of heart disease, cancer, and lung disease, then it’s worth pointing out that quitting smoking could also save your joints—especially if your suffer from arthritis.

Here are a few more reasons why you should consider throwing that pack out for good.

1. Smoking raises your death risk significantly

In a study conducted by Arthritis Care & Research, it was revealed that death rates for smokers who suffered from rheumatoid arthritis (RA) were almost double that of non smokers.

Being an arthritis sufferer already raises your exposure to cardiovascular diseases. And when you smoke, you’re essentially doubling that possibility.

2. Smoking leads to more complications during surgery

One of the most effective interventions for arthritis is surgery. However, research shows that smokers undergoing surgery were 10-times more likely to require a do-over procedure as opposed to non smokers.

3. Smoking causes worse cartilage damage

A Mayo clinic study found that osteoarthritic smokers actually experienced higher levels of pain due to worse cartilage damage. Studies are ongoing as to the real reason why, but scientists speculate that the toxins present in cigarette smoke is a critical factor of cartilage loss. Another theory is that smokers have higher carbon monoxide levels in their blood, which prevents effective cartilage repair.

4. Smoking worsens rheumatoid arthritis symptoms

According to a study published in Arthritis & Rheumatism, past and present smokers exhibit worse symptoms and joint damage versus RA sufferers who have never smoked a cigarette.

5. Smoking lowers response to medication

Another effective approach to managing arthritis symptoms is medication. However, one of the most common treatments—the TNF inhibitor, which is a type of biologic medication—saw lower rates of efficacy in smokers.

Because arthritis is largely a joint disease, most people assume that smoking doesn’t have a direct effect in their condition.. In addition, there could factors unique to arthritis sufferers that make it harder to quit—such as the idea that smoking can help us cope with stress, or distract from the pain caused by their condition.

The risks that smoking exposes you to however are not worth the perceived benefits that you think you gain. Remember, you’re exposing yourself to lung and other cancers, stroke, respiratory illness, cardiovascular disease, and osteoporosis with worsening arthritis symptoms. And quite simply, that doesn’t really seem like a fair exchange for a few puffs.

Dr. Arthritis Shares: Rheumatoid Arthritis Is More than Just Joint Pain

When anyone mentions arthritis, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?

If you answered joint pain, you are not alone. Even those who suffer from the condition themselves are quick to assume that their symptoms will be limited to just stiff and aching joints. Fact is however, arthritis symptoms go well beyond that—especially for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) sufferers.

To shed more light on the condition, here are some symptoms caused by RA that you should be aware of–

1. Increased risk of cardiovascular disease

RA has been linked to an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, which includes heart attack and stroke. This correlation puts a lot of focus on the serious nature of RA and it would be best if you speak to a medical professional about how you can minimize your exposure to it.

Offhand, you can start by watching your diet and reducing intake of refined sugars and starches that spike your blood glucose levels and insulin. If at all possible, try to add some activity into your daily routine as well to help burn excess glucose in the bloodstream.

2. Development of nodules

RA sufferers often develop small, firm lumps under the skin called nodules. This is especially common among RA patients with a more advanced form of the disease. The nodules develop near joints that are inflamed and can be small enough to go unnoticed, or large enough to be disconcerting.

Because it’s painless and not life threatening, it doesn’t really require treatment. Neither does it make your RA worse. However, it can be bothersome especially if the nodules are large in size. If this is the case, there are medications that can help reduce its size or in some instances, you can have it surgically removed.

3. Shortness of breath

RA patients with a history of smoking are more likely to develop RA-related lung issues. Occasionally, RA sufferers even experience lung problems even before joint pain and inflammation start.

Shortness of breath is often caused by scarring in the lungs; this is due to long-term inflammation and is often accompanied by chronic dry cough, fatigue, and loss of appetite. Or in some instances, if the tissue surrounding the lungs becomes inflamed and leads to pleural inflammation.

4. Dry eyes or loss of vision

RA is so complex that it can affect areas of your body that you wouldn’t even think of—such as your eyes. The most common eye-related symptom would be dryness, which leave your eyes prone to infection. Severe drying of the eyes have also been known to damage your cornea.

5. Fatigue

One of the less tangible symptoms of RA is chronic fatigue—a persistent and systemic type of exhaustion that affects your entire body instead of just a single body part.

For RA sufferers, this is typically experienced as intense tiredness, not too different from the feeling you get when you’re about to come down with the flu. While fatigue may be directly related to your RA, it could also be a side effect of your medications or a result of anemia, or depression (also common among chronic pain sufferers)—so be sure to speak to a healthcare professional if you feel like you’re experiencing unusual levels of exhaustion.

6. Poor kidney function

Studies suggest that RA patients may also face higher risk of kidney disease. The severe inflammation experienced by sufferers, use of corticosteroids, high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, all contribute to RA sufferers having poor kidney function.

Speak to your doctor about it if you’re worried. Kidney disease can be detected easily. In addition, maintaining a low salt diet and reducing NSAIDS—a common anti-inflammatory medication—can help.

7. Higher risk of carpal tunnel syndrome and other neuropathies

Carpal tunnel syndrome is actually a common complication of RA. Because RA patients often experience swelling of joints and tendons, it can compress the median nerve and cause problems with your carpal tunnel.

It typically begins as a tingling or itching sensation in the middle finger and thumb, accompanied by a sensation of swelling even if there is no visible swelling on the hands. If not addressed, the pain and symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome can be severe and debilitating over time.

While it is one of the more common kinds of arthritis, RA remains one of the more complex and misunderstood forms of the disease. It’s important to learn about these lesser-known symptoms associated with the condition so you can address them early and better manage your RA.

Dr. Arthritis Shares: What You Should Know About Arthritis and Self-Management

After you were diagnosed with arthritis, you probably found yourself surrounded by doctors and healthcare professionals. Your loved ones, family and friends, tried their best to be there for you and give you support.

While you appreciate everything that they do for you, you also know that a big part of managing this disease is in your hands. Quite simply, self-management of arthritis is critical to maintaining your independence given your limitations and ensuring quality of life.

That said, here are five important self-management habits that you should cultivate—

1. Be meticulous about organization

Be proactive and take charge of your treatment plan. Start by keeping track of your symptoms, medications, any side effects that you’ve experienced, pain levels, and other necessary information that you think would be useful. Write it down in a notebook and make sure to bring it on your next appointment with a healthcare professional.

In-depth information about what you’re going through is more useful to doctors and physical therapists than you can imagine. It will help give you better treatment options and interventions.

2. Anticipate the pain and fatigue

Pain and fatigue are inevitable with arthritis and can become very overwhelming. Learn everything that you can about how you can best manage your symptoms. Read, talk to your doctor, start a conversation with healthcare professionals, or reach out a community of fellow arthritis sufferers.

3. Try to stay active

We know this is probably the last thing you want to do when you’re in pain, and understandably, there are days when it’s impossible to do so—but exercise is a proven way to manage arthritis. To be clear, staying active doesn’t mean you have to run sprints or jump hoops. Simply taking a 15 minute walk or doing some gentle stretching can help increase your range of motion, improve sleep quality, and boost your mood.

4. Rest if you need to

As arthritis sufferers, we all have this tendency of pushing ourselves too much. Perhaps it’s a way to prove to ourselves that we’re not being held back by our condition—but knowing what we can and cannot do is critical to successfully managing chronic pain. Arthritis sufferers get tired faster and have more physical limitations—that’s a fact. Pace yourself and learn to say no.

When it comes to sleeping, we know it can sometimes be a challenge for arthritis sufferers. However, there are things you can do so you can fall asleep faster and stay asleep. Avoid caffeinated drinks or any kind of strenuous activity in the evening. Try winding down with a warm bath a few hours before bedtime. Or you can try relaxation or meditation techniques. If you suspect that it’s your medication causing sleepless nights, raise it with your doctor—they might be able to adjust the timing of your medication in the interest of giving you a good night’s sleep.

5. Eat healthily

Eating healthily combined with exercise, helps keep our weight down, which means we’re putting less pressure on our joints. Plus, there are a lot of foods that you should avoid as it worsens inflammation.

Not to worry, there are a lot of delicious alternatives that you can try. For more information about arthritis and our recommended diet, you can also check out this video.

There are a lot of things you can do to manage arthritis. But starting with these 5 definitely goes a long way.

Dr. Arthritis Shares: New Study Identifies Arthritis Severity Gene

Scientists from the prestigious Mount Sinai Hospital / Mount Sinai School of Medicine have just announced a potentially groundbreaking piece of research for arthritis.

Through a series of experiments on synovial cells, they have identified a new gene associated with the disease’s severity in rheumatoid arthritis—one of the most common forms of arthritis today. This critical finding could pave the way for new treatments for the condition and proactively anticipate, as well as measure, the prognosis of patients with the condition.

The study, published online in Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases last July notes that the gene HIP1 is a driver in inflammatory arthritis severity. This is the first time that the specific gene has been associated in arthritis severity and cell invasiveness.

“There have been major advances in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis in the past 20 years, but disease remission still remains uncommon. Most drugs today target inflammation but often that is not enough to control disease,” says Percio S. Gulko, MD, Chief of the Division of Rheumatology who authored the paper along with Lillian and Henry M. Stratton Professor of Medicine (Rheumatology). “…we have been looking for alternative strategies. In this research, we have focused on understanding the regulation of disease severity and joint damage. Our discovery led us to the synovial fibroblasts, cells inside the joint.”

Quite simply, this latest discovery underscores the possibility of future therapies focusing on HIP1 to manage and even treat RA. A drug that could specifically target this gene would ultimately be an accurate predictor of patient prognosis as well as becoming a novel and effective way to treat the condition. More importantly, it can be a treatment that can spare the immune system outside the joint.

Dr. Arthritis Tips: 4 Foods to Avoid if You Have Arthritis

As an arthritis sufferer, you may have noticed that there are certain foods that seem to make your symptoms worse. It’s not all in your head, unfortunately.

If you suffer from arthritis, it means your body is in an inflammatory state. What you eat and don’t eat can lend itself to worsening your condition. Not only do your symptoms get worse, not changing your diet may lead to other chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes or obesity.

To that end, you’ve probably done a lot of research on what food should be in your next grocery run. Thankfully, there’s a lot. We even made a brief video so you’re guided by the best diet tips that can help manage your symptoms. 

But to keep things simpler, we’ve also compiled a list of common foods and ingredients that you should steer clear off and propose some alternatives—

Saturated fats

Be more conscious of how much saturated fats you’re consuming. Saturated fat stay solid in room temperature—think cheese, butter and meat. Too much of these and it will ultimately cause issues with your cholesterol levels. And since arthritis sufferers are at a higher risk for heart disease, it pays to make sure you keep track of your cholesterol levels.

Saturated fats in small amounts is OK. But make sure that you limit it to less than 10% of your total calorie intake.

Salt

Cutting down on salt can help lower your risk of high blood pressure—a condition that may lead to heart attack or kidney disease.

When it comes to salt however, the real question is, how much is too much? The average person consumes about 3,400 mg of sodium a everyday. However most physicians recommend that people limit salt to below 2,300 mg daily.

Be sure to read food labels carefully or use a low-sodium substitute to help minimize your intake. Or you can even substitute table salt with herbs and spices to boost your food flavors.

Sugar

When you suffer from arthritis, you want to make sure that you’re not putting too much pressure on your joints. This entails maintaining a healthy weight, which means choosing healthier dietary alternatives. To that end, refined sugar easily climbs the top of the list of things to avoid.

Try switching instead to calorie-free sweeteners, honey, agave or maple syrup.

Alcohol

Everything in moderation—that’s the golden rule when it comes to alcohol and arthritis. A glass of wine over dinner or a pint of beer every once in a while may not necessarily be detrimental to your joint. Making a regular habit out of it however can cause a lot of trouble for you—especially if you’re taking maintenance medication for your condition. A lot of pain relievers don’t mix well with alcohol and may raise your risk of stomach bleeding or ulcers; and acetaminophen mixed with alcohol makes you more susceptible to liver damage.  

We tried to keep this list as brief and concise as possible so it’s easy to remember what food you should avoid. If you’d like to share more arthritis diet tips, feel free to leave a comment below.  

Dr. Arthritis Shares: Here Are Some Hard Truths About Arthritis

For a disease that affects millions around the world, it’s surprising how arthritis can still be plagued by so many misconceptions. For starters, arthritis may commonly manifest as joint pain and inflammation, but these aren’t the only symptoms that indicate you could be suffering from it. Extreme fatigue, psoriasis, even mouth ulcers could be indicators that you’re suffering from any one (or a combination) of the 200 different kinds of arthritis.

The truth is, arthritis is a lot more than stiff hands and knees. It doesn’t just affect old people. And it’s a condition that is often underestimated, and ultimately, ignored.

So in the interest of shedding much needed light into this debilitating but misunderstood illness, here are some hard truths about condition that you should know about:

  • While osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are two of the most common kinds of arthritis, there are actually hundreds of different forms.  Regardless of which kind you suffer from, a report from Arthritis Research UK notes that 8 out 10 of arthritis sufferers report experiencing pain most days, while nearly 6 out of 10 suffer with it every day.
  • It’s common for a lot of sufferers to have to give up careers due to their condition. In addition to the stiff joints, extreme pain, and inflammation, sleepless nights are common for sufferers—whether it’s because the pain keeps them up at night, or their medication interferes with their sleep, or their illness is causing them anxiety. Whatever the case, this causes extreme fatigue that exacerbates their pain, creating a vicious cycle.
  • Arthritis takes a toll on family life and personal relationships. Fatigue can make it difficult for sufferers to be there for their loved ones physically. It tends to make sufferers withdraw from their closest family and friends on the assumption that their condition is too much for anyone to handle. As a result, most sufferers tend to isolate themselves from people when they need it the most.
  • Arthritis can affect anyone. Granted it’s more common among older age groups, but it can strike anyone, at any age.
  • Arthritis isn’t always visible, but that doesn’t mean that the pain isn’t real. The pain and stiffness that is commonly associated with the illness affects mobility and dexterity. This limits sufferers from completing even the simplest of tasks, like buttoning a shirt of getting out of bed.
  • Exercise may seem counterintuitive when your joints are aching, but moving the joint helps strengthen it and the muscle surrounding it.

The realities of living with arthritis—a condition that is experienced by so many—continues to be misunderstood, even to this day. And this usually leads to sufferers dealing with the condition, and all the challenges that come with it, in silence.

As a largely invisible disease, it’s easy for others to dismiss it. But this doesn’t have to be the case. Talk about it, let loved ones know what you’re going through, share anecdotes about what it’s really like to live with this condition, find communities where you can openly talk about shared experiences.

On that note, what reality about arthritis do want to share that you think the world should recognize? Add it in the comment section below.

Dr. Arthritis Shares: 5 Ways You Can Prevent Arthritis Pain Without Painkillers

As arthritis sufferers, we’re no stranger to the convenience and relief that popping painkillers can have for our symptoms. However, there are numerous things that you can do to manage your pain so that you don’t have to rely solely on your medication.

Below are some of the methods that we’ve tried and have proven to be fairly effective. And as always, if you have more to add to this list, please feel free to share it with us in the comment section.

Get a tailored exercise program

While exercising isn’t entirely possible all the time given your condition, you can’t deny the benefits that physical activity provides arthritis sufferers. Apart from helping you maintain a healthy weight, regular exercise can strengthen muscles and improve overall fitness. So whenever possible, we strongly encourage people to speak to their physicians so they can find the right exercise program given their limitations.

Often, you’ll be given exercise programs that are low impact  such as swimming, yoga, or water aerobics.

Applying hot and cold compress

Applying heat to an inflamed or stiff joint can help stimulate blood flow to the affected area. Try it by warming up a hot pack in the microwave and gently pressing it on the joint to relax the muscles.

On the other hand, a cold compress can reduce inflammation by constricting the blood vessels, which help disrupt pain sensations.

Getting a gentle massage

If you experience chronic symptoms, regular massages can help manage pain and joint stiffness. Additionally, because massages are relaxing, it can also help promote better sleep—a common problem among arthritis sufferers.

Make sleep a priority

Sleeping through the night can be challenging for a lot of arthritis sufferers, but a full night’s sleep can do a lot towards alleviating your symptoms. Quality sleep means your body is able to heal from the day’s activities, which help manage fatigue and alleviate your symptoms. Even something as simple as closing your eyes at night however is difficult when you experience physical discomfort and pain 24/7, so you have to consciously make an effort to rest and relax. Aim for 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep whenever you can. Apart from medication, deep breathing exercises and meditation work to ease the stress of handling arthritis symptoms.

Try acupuncture

Acupuncture is a centuries old technique that helps improve blood flow and general health. Anecdotal evidence suggests that acupuncture has therapeutic benefits and relieve symptoms for arthritis sufferers.

Eat better

People in general should make it a point to eat healthy, but a well-balanced diet could go a long way for anyone who suffers from arthritis. Certain foods increase the risk of complications, while others help protect your joints and prevent inflammation. In addition, maintaining a healthy weight means you put less pressure on your joints.

Using aids and tools

Sometimes, there are days when you just need that extra support or help because the symptoms are just too much. Walking aids, assistive tools, and compression sleeves are useful and effective ways to help make things easier for arthritis sufferers. Don’t be afraid to try them.

Arthritis can be a difficult disease with numerous complicated and even complicated manifestations. Medications are certainly useful ways to manage the symptoms, but along with your prescribed pills, a fair knowledge of therapeutic alternatives, a healthy lifestyle, and a supportive network of family and friends help make it easier.