Living With Arthritis

By: Michael Appleman, M.S.

Burn Survivors are part of the 43 million people that suffer from arthritis in the United States. One out of six people suffer from arthritis.

We all must make sure that we have had an accurate diagnosis of your aching body. There are 100 different forms of arthritis. The most common form of arthritis is Osteoarthritis. This type is linked to your genes, excess weight and joint injuries. Osteoarthritis produces pain when the spongy cartilage that cushions the joints becomes damaged and gradually wears away. Rheumatoid arthritis, another common form, is an autoimmune disease. Meaning your body's immune system without explanation turns against itself and painfully attacks your joint tissues. Fibromyalgia and Lyme are two less common examples.


No matter what type of arthritis you have, the sooner you have it diagnosed and treated the better you will feel. Early treatment and some lifestyle changes can help you control the disease. It might even help you stop it. The question now is how can I do that? Here are four steps to take:

1. You must see a health-care professional. If you keep records from the time your pain started, how it feels, whether it is in one or more joints, what time of the day you have the pain, what you are doing just before the pain and how long the pain lasts.

2. Learn as much as you can about the type of arthritis you are diagnosed with.

3. Establish adaptable and practical physical goals.

4. Do not be afraid to ask for help when you need it. You must make sure you tell your family and friends about the diagnosis so they can take part in your recovery.

As many burn survivors know even without arthritis you can have a tough time opening childproof bottles. With restricted handgrip or swollen and stiff fingers everyday jobs like that can be impossible. There are many devices on the market today that can help a person with these problems. These include jar openers, zipper pulls, tap turners and more.


Eating Habits

Excess weight has been seen to be very destructive to our joints. If you are overweight you might want to talk to your health care professional about a weight loss program. If you are at an appropriate weight then you might want to talk to your doctor about a weight maintenance diet. What type of diet you choose is a very important part of you life. You need to include plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, limit you fat, cholesterol, sugar, and salt intakes. Everyone should drink approximately eight glasses of water a day and you should consume little or no alcohol.

Consider using olive, canola or flaxseed oils instead of corn, safflower and sunflower oils. It is also suggested that you lower your beef intake and increase your fish intake. There are several reasons why:

1. Corn, safflower and sunflower oils and animal feed produce substances that can cause inflammation and lead to arthritis pain.

2. Olive, canola, flaxseed oils, salmon and tuna, which are fatty fish, are filled with necessary fatty acids that can assist in lowering inflammation and reduce pain.

Keep Exercising

Many people do not like to exercise, especially when they are in pain. By not exercising your arthritis pain can increase. Exercise keeps the muscles, bones, and cartilages around your joints strong and makes your everyday activities easier. It also can help control your weight. Exercise releases your endorphins, which is your body's natural painkiller. Here are 3 suggested exercises to try:

1. Range of Motion: These simple exercises help to move your joints in a full range of motion. By doing that you can keep your joints more flexible. This has been seen to be a fantastic exercise to use when your Rheumatoid Arthritis flares up.


2. Strength Training: This is an exercise to help build up your muscles around the joints. This can help to take pressure off of the joints. You can do strength-training exercise with weights, machines or resistance bands. If you are a beginner or just coming back from an injury or time off, you may want to have a weight trainer help you.


3. Aerobics: The best types of aerobic exercise for people who have arthritis are water aerobics, walking and bicycling. These activities are not only easier on your joints, but they can help you lose your excess weight and maintain it. That will help to relieve the burden on your joints.

4. Tai Chi: Tai chi is a Chinese practive that is often called "Meditation In Motion." It is a series of slow, gentle motions and exercises of our body, mind and spirit. Tai chi can improve your balance and strengthen your muscles, reduce the stress on your tender joints and can calm your mind. All this is done through deep breathing and meditation.

Burn Survivors Throughout The World, Inc. advises that before starting any exercise program you should talk to your doctor and/or physical therapist in order to get the recommendation on what would be your best routine. You may also want to read our articles on eating and exercise, yoga and aerobics.