Arthritis is a common affliction, particularly as we age. According to the CDC, arthritis affects over 50 million adults in the United States. There are a few different types of arthritis, but the two most common are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
The Difference between Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis
Osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis that is caused by the breakdown and loss of cartilage in the joints. Cartilage is a slippery, cushion-like material that covers the ends of bones in a joint. The bones rub against each other when it breaks down, causing pain, swelling, and stiffness. Osteoarthritis most commonly affects the hip, knee, and hand joints.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation in the joints. Unlike osteoarthritis, which is a degenerative condition, rheumatoid arthritis is a progressive disease, meaning it gets worse over time and can be crippling as it progresses. The inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis can damage the joints and other tissues in the body.
Both types of arthritis can cause significant pain and mobility issues and even lead to irreversibly damaged joints if left untreated, so it is important to catch arthritis early and begin treatment as soon as possible. Several options are available to those suffering from arthritis, but the best first course of action is always to consult with a doctor and discuss your options.
Common Arthritis Treatments
In the early stages of arthritis, anti-inflammatory medicines and injections can reduce pain and discomfort, but they may lose their effectiveness as arthritis progresses.
Exercise is one of the best ways to reduce arthritis pain. Regular physical activity helps strengthen the joints’ muscles, improve range of motion, strengthen bones, and reduce stiffness.
Carrying extra weight can put unnecessary stress on joints, aggravating arthritis pain. Losing weight can help take some of the pressure off your joints and reduce pain.
Eat a Mediterranean-based diet.
The Mediterranean diet focuses on eating foods that don’t cause inflammation in the body and has been shown to reduce inflammation throughout the body, leading to fewer arthritis flare-ups and less pain. The foods that form the foundation of a Mediterranean diet include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, herbs, spices, and healthy fats derived from sources such as olive oil. Fish or other seafood are standard menu items.
Foods to avoid that cause inflammation.
Certain foods can cause inflammation in the body and should be avoided if you’re suffering from arthritis. These include processed meats or red meats, refined carbohydrates, sugary drinks, alcohol, fried foods, and unhealthy fats.
Some nightshade vegetables can also cause inflammation in some people. These include tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and eggplant. If you find that these foods are triggering your arthritis symptoms, it’s best to avoid them.
Vitamin C is necessary for the production of collagen. Collagen is a protein that helps to keep the cartilage in joints healthy. A lack of vitamin C can lead to joint pain and stiffness. You can get your daily dose of vitamin C from foods such as citrus fruits, strawberries, Brussels sprouts, kale, and broccoli. You can also take a supplement to ensure that you’re getting enough vitamin C if you don’t think you’re getting enough from your diet.
Remember, if you suspect that you may have arthritis, don’t wait to get help! The sooner you begin treatment, the better your chances are of managing your pain and keeping your joints healthy.