As we get older, many of us experience trouble with our joints. Unfortunately, especially among the senior population, arthritis is as common as it is painful. May is National Arthritis Month, and arthritis patients and their family and friends alike are invited to learn more about symptoms, what can exacerbate them and how to prevent them altogether.
A bone to pick with arthritis
According to the National College of Rheumatology, arthritis is actually a catch-all term used to describe around 100 different kinds of rheumatic diseases - those that affect joints and bones. Arthritis represents one of the most common health concerns affecting older Americans. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that nearly half of adults over 65 have been diagnosed with arthritis by their doctor. While arthritis can affect anybody, being obese can exponentially increase your risk. According to the CDC, roughly 66 percent of obese adults will develop some form of arthritis in their lifetime. Also, women are more prone to developing arthritis than men are, as 60 percent of those with rheumatoid arthritis are women.
What can be done?
Arthritis is most commonly treated through exercise. Seniors can gently roll joints such as shoulders and the neck to help ease tension and increase their range of motion. The CDC recommends walking as an effective, low-impact treatment for arthritis. Despite the fact that regular walking has been shown to lead to improvements in quality of life, approximately 50 percent of arthritis patients do not walk at all throughout the course of their daily routine. This is likely due to pain, discomfort and fatigue, which are very common symptoms of the disease. Unfortunately, not exercising regularly can exacerbate the arthritis symptoms in a vicious cycle, and as such, 150 minutes each week of moderate intensity exercise like walking is recommended.
Exercise that strengthens muscles and bones is also useful in preventing arthritis pain. Controlled weight training is a good example of this, though care should be taken to rest and take a day off if you notice your joints are feeling particularly sore, as overexertion should be avoided.
Another key factor that can affect arthritis symptoms is weight. Adults who are obese or overweight are putting more stress on their joints, which can lead to greater pain as a result. Maintaining a healthy weight through exercise and a healthy diet can go a long way in keeping joints unstressed and reducing pain.