The gym I work at is predominantly seniors and a majority of the folks I have orientations with deal with this. I believe this is becoming an increasingly big problem in the US for many factors. The two biggest however I think is inactivity and poor diet. I find myself repeating myself over and over while talking to these folks on how to deal with their symptoms. That is the origin of this blog post, for people to hopefully read this and help themselves.
It’s very important to know the different types of arthritis because they can develop in different ways. The most common type is osteoarthritis and that is the wearing down of the cartilage in the joint. Rheumatoid arthritis, which is an autoimmune disease, is when the synovial membrane becomes inflamed which can lead to complications.
One of the main symptoms is pain and/or stiffness in the joint, which typically worsen as you get older. Swelling can be a common symptom because of the inflammation there may be an increase in fluid and white blood cells to the area. Another serious symptom can be lack of range of motion in the joint which can limit daily activities.
The main cause of osteoarthritis is the wear and tear over time rubbing on the joint. This is why arthritis is much more common in the senior population. However arthritis can develop much quicker from an acute joint injury or disease.
In the case of rheumatoid arthritis it is your own body fighting against you. Your immune system attacks the synovial membrane of the joint capsule causing it to become inflamed and swollen. Over time this can eventually lead to the deterioration of the cartilage in the joint like in the case of osteoarthritis. Essentially you get to the same place in both cases, it just happens in different ways.
There are many factors that contribute to a higher chance of you developing arthritis. Many are out of your control such as genetics, older age, sex, or previous joint injury. However there is one key factor that is important and that is weight. Being overweight or obese puts more pressure on your joints especially the hips and knees. First step in improving arthritis is losing body fat if that is the case for you.
One of the key complications of arthritis that I brought up earlier is the pain and stiffness that is accompanied by severe arthritis. This creates a big problem because when you are in pain you tend to rest and take it easy which is the exact opposite of what you need to do. When you don’t keep the joints mobile you let the arthritis set in more so and becomes this snowball effect that slowly limits your mobility.
So the key to arthritis is to identify it early on and deal with it quickly before it sets in where it affects your daily activities. First important step to delay or reverse arthritis is to get active with cardiovascular and resistance training. There are many benefits to doing so such as strengthening the muscles around the joint, reducing pain in the joint, give you more energy throughout the day, and help with weight lose if that is the case for you.
The next important step is reducing inflammation in the joint. As I’ve brought up multiple times throughout the article that inflammation is a symptom of arthritis. So we want to try to reduce inflammation as much as possible. There are many ways to do that and the most widely accepted way to do that is NSAIDS but I discourage people to use those. There are studies that show that NSAIDS are not actually very good at reducing pain and inflammation compared to other ways as well as being terrible for your gut biome. So here I’ll tell you alternative ways to do so that I believe are better.
Number one thing that I recommend to people is using a sauna or steam room. The main benefit of using these are getting what is called heat-shock proteins that are powerful anti-inflammatories. This is a very in-depth topic but if you want to read more about them look into Dr. Rhonda Patrick who does a lot of research on it. You can also do cryotherapy which is a similar idea as the sauna but the opposite with cold and the body producing cold-shock proteins. Turmeric extract is a great herbal supplement that can help reduce inflammation. The active ingredient is curcumin and the daily recommended intake is 500-1000 mg/day with a little bit of black pepper to increase absorption. Omega-3 Fatty acids EPA and DHA in particular are great anti-inflammatory compounds found in food. You will find the highest concentration of these Omega-3s in fatty fish and seafood however they are also in some different kinds of seeds. The problem with many Americans is they eat way to many Omega-6 fatty acids which are pro-inflammatories and the ratio of the two is way off. The last and probably the most controversial of the lot is CBD oil. Unfortunately until recently these things have been hard to study because it comes from an illegal drug. However I believe as time goes on research will start to come out and show us definitely what is the case. However as of right now there is only a lot of anecdotal evidence to support the claims of reducing inflammation. But then again not everyone has noticed the benefits when doing it. If you want to give it a try I don’t think it would hurt and at least give you another option if you are willing.