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.
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.