If you haven’t caught on yet, any type of arthritis is a disease that cannot be cured unlike a sinus infection or strep throat. From the moment you accept your first symptoms as arthritis, it will, unfortunately, be something you will have to deal with for the rest of your life.
With gout and infectious arthritis, we can walk away understanding that those forms of arthritis can leave you with temporary discomfort from the attack or infection. Although not entirely curable, once the inflammation is under control, you can go back to your everyday routine. This is not the case with osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis, or degenerative arthritis, is most commonly related to aging and genetics. If you put a lot of wear and tear on your joints over the course of your lifetime that will considerably aggravate, inflame and harm the cartilage in your joints. Therefore, if you made a living as an athlete, construction worker or even a homemaker or kindergarten teacher (you should see my mom come home from work if you don’t believe me), you may want to read on. Although a natural part of aging - depending on other medical conditions you have - this type of physical stress on your joints over time could lead to osteoarthritis. The most common conditions associated with this disease are repeated injury to a joint, gout, diabetes, birth abnormalities and obesity.
Next to genetics, obesity is the second-most common risk factor for osteoarthritis. If you are considerably overweight you may be crushing your joints, literally. Every pound of body weight is equivalent to four pounds of stress on your knees. Think about that for a minute. These days the average American woman is a size 14, or about 170 pounds. Multiply 170 by 4 and you are carrying 680 pounds of stress on your knees. So, simple math; if you can just lose even 5 pounds-at your own pace-you are decreasing your stress by 20 pounds and improving your way of life now and in the future.
Obviously we cannot all live a bubble of perfection in terms of the way we take care of ourselves. In this economy a job is a job, you eat what you can afford, and time for exercise and relaxation is few and far between. I can try to tell you those are just small details of life and you must make time for “yourself” and spend extra to eat right, but I would be fooling even myself. The truth is, that lifestyle is just not feasible for most people. These days, Americans are finding their health a lesser priority, when it reality, it should be No. 1.
If you are finding yourself between a rock and a hard place with osteoarthritis, check back Wednesday where we will discover that this disease is more than physical pain. It is a disease that can, and will alter your mental and emotional health just a much, if not more.