Here’s a rather surprising fact: Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in America. More than 50 million adults and 300,000 children are suffering with joint pain (or disease). Arthritis Awareness Month helps all of us deal with this commonly misunderstood health issue.
There are more than 100 different forms of arthritis and related diseases. The most common types include osteoarthritis (OA), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), psoriatic arthritis (PsA), fibromyalgia, and gout.
Take time this May to learn about prevention and medical care — while finding out which foods can help. And perhaps, most importantly, understand that proper self-care can make a big difference.
Arthritis Awareness Month timeline
- April 2019
Take a walk
Researchers at Northwestern University confirmed that 10 minutes a day of brisk walking can help prevent disability in people with arthritis pain in their knee, hip, ankle or foot.
Doctors at the Mayo Clinic first treated patients with an extract of the adrenal gland known as compound E. This offered relief — but would soon result in serious side effects.
Once highly praised, this treatment has fallen out of favor due to potentially severe side effects and the discovery of better meds.
Bayer's Felix Hoffman developed aspirin — the first NSAID (nonsteroidal anti- inflammatory drug). Numerous pharmaceutical companies, starting in 1970, have launched NSAIDs which are widely used for arthritis pain management.
- 19th century
First modern description
A French medical student provided details of a disease affecting nine female patients, leaving the hand joints swollen and deformed. Bloodletting, a treatment at the time, did not seem to help.
How to Observe Arthritis Awareness Month
It's natural to worry that exercising might make things worse. However, research shows that people can and should exercise when they have osteoarthritis (the most common form).
Try a "no-pills" approach
Consider alternatives to drugs (if your doctor approves). These can include gels, creams, and patches. Also — there are portable machines that send electrical current to painful spots via wires attached to electrodes placed on the skin.
The Arthritis Foundation's "Live Yes! Arthritis Network" can help you tap into a powerful support network. Join their online community to share information. Ask questions and offer advice.
5 Foods To Help Fight Arthritis
They offer powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits — providing joint pain relief, while lowering the risk of flares in those with gout.
Think sweet potatoes, carrots, red (or green) peppers and squash. Peppers, especially, are an abundant source of vitamin C, which preserves bone, and may protect cartilage.
The best? Salmon, tuna, sardines, and mackerel. They can all help decrease inflammation and protect the heart. Look for frozen or canned fish to save money.
They're high in alpha linoleic acid (ALA), a type of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acid. Eating walnuts regularly can also lower cholesterol, relax blood vessels, and reduce blood pressure
It can help fight pain, inflammation, and cartilage damage. If possible, try for fresh garlic to avoid unwanted preservatives and processing — which could decrease the benefits.
Why Arthritis Awareness Month is Important
Recognizing the symptoms can help you get the right diagnosis. Look out for swelling and stiffness. Remember: Inflamed joints can feel especially stiff first thing in the morning.
Sometimes, applying heat or cold to affected areas is all you need for pain management. You can decide which works best for you. Either way, do it for no more than 20 minutes at a time.
The Arthritis Foundation can help you find and build support for your journey during Arthritis Awareness Month. This includes tips on nationwide events, treatment, and diet.