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Arthritis and Its Impact on Your Life

What is Arthritis?

Treatments for Arthritis

How can Occupational Therapists help people with arthritis?

How does somebody with arthritis exercise safely?

What is lifestyle management, and does it help?


What is Arthritis?


Arthritis is a term used to describe a group of conditions that affect the joints. These conditions cause inflammation and joint pain, leading to stiffness, swelling, and reduced mobility. There are many different types of arthritis, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout. The exact cause of arthritis varies depending on the type of arthritis, but factors such as an injury, infection, or autoimmune disorder can trigger inflammation. In some cases, the exact cause of the arthritis is not known.



Some forms of arthritis can affect people of all ages, while others are more common in older adults. For example, osteoarthritis is more common in older adults, while rheumatoid arthritis is more likely to affect younger adults. Additionally, some forms of arthritis, such as gout, are more common in men than women. It is estimated that arthritis affects more than 6 million people in Canada, making it one of the country's most common chronic health conditions. While there is no cure for arthritis, many effective treatments can help manage the symptoms and improve quality of life.



Treatments for Arthritis


The treatment for arthritis depends on the type of arthritis and the severity of the condition. In general, treatment for arthritis typically involves a combination of medication, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes.


Medications commonly used to treat arthritis include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). NSAIDs can help reduce inflammation and pain in the joints, while DMARDs can slow the progression of the disease. In severe cases, other medications, such as corticosteroids, may be used to help manage the symptoms of arthritis.


"1 in 5 Canadians live with the many impacts of arthritis." - Arthritis Society of Canada

Physical therapy can also be an essential part of the treatment of arthritis. Physical therapists can help design an exercise program specifically tailored to the needs of the individual. This can help improve flexibility, strength, and range of motion in the joints and reduce pain and stiffness.



In addition to medication and physical therapy,

several lifestyle changes can help manage the symptoms of arthritis. These may include maintaining a healthy weight, using assistive devices (such as a cane or walker), and avoiding activities that put too much strain on the joints. Additionally, some people find that complementary and alternative therapies, such as acupuncture and massage, can help manage the symptoms of arthritis.


How can Occupational Therapists help people with arthritis?


Occupational therapy can be an essential part of treatment for people with arthritis. Occupational therapists work with individuals to help them maintain or improve their ability to perform daily activities, such as dressing, bathing, and cooking. They can also help people with arthritis find ways to adapt to their condition and continue to participate in activities that are important to them.


One of the main goals of occupational therapy for people with arthritis is to help them manage their pain and maintain their independence. This may involve teaching them how to use assistive devices, such as canes or walkers, to make daily activities easier. Occupational therapists can also help people with arthritis develop a personalized exercise program to improve their flexibility, strength, and range of motion in their joints.



"For 40% of Canadians with arthritis, pain is severe enough to limit their activities." - Arthritis Society of Canada

In addition to these physical benefits, occupational therapy can also help people with arthritis cope with their condition's emotional and social impact. Occupational therapists can provide support and guidance to help individuals manage their frustration, anxiety, and depression. They can also provide resources and referrals to help them connect with others living with arthritis.


Overall, occupational therapy can be an essential part of treatment for people with arthritis, helping them maintain their independence and improve their quality of life.


How does somebody with arthritis exercise safely?


Exercise is an important part of managing the symptoms of arthritis and maintaining overall health and well-being. However, it is important to exercise safely, especially if you have arthritis. Here are a few tips to help you exercise safely with arthritis:

  1. Start slowly: If you have yet to exercise regularly, start with low-impact activities, such as walking or swimming, and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts as your fitness level improves.

  2. Listen to your body: Pay attention to your body's signals, and don't push yourself too hard. If you feel pain or discomfort, stop exercising and rest.

  3. Use assistive devices: If you have trouble with balance or mobility, consider using assistive devices, such as a cane or walker, to help you exercise safely.

  4. Warm-up and cool down: To avoid strain or injury, warm up with some light stretching before you begin exercising, and cool down with some gentle stretches after you finish.

  5. Work with a therapist: A occupational therapist can help you design an exercise program tailored to your specific needs and abilities. They can also provide guidance and support to help you exercise safely and effectively.


"Those living with this disease are more than 5 times as likely to have difficulties with mobility" - Arthritis Society of Canada

Remember, it's important to consult your doctor before starting any new exercise program, especially if you have arthritis. They can provide guidance and support to help you exercise safely and effectively.


What is lifestyle management, and does it help?


Lifestyle management is an important part of treatment for people living with arthritis. Making specific lifestyle changes can help manage the symptoms of arthritis, improve overall health, and enhance the quality of life. Here are a few ways that lifestyle management can help people living with arthritis:

  • Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight or obese can put extra strain on the joints, which can make the symptoms of arthritis worse. Losing weight, if necessary, can help reduce pain and stiffness and improve mobility.

  • Eat a healthy diet: Eating a well-balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help reduce inflammation in the body, which can, in turn, help manage the symptoms of arthritis.

  • Quit smoking: Smoking can increase the risk of developing certain types of arthritis and can also make the symptoms of arthritis worse. Quitting smoking can help improve overall health and may reduce the severity of arthritis symptoms.

  • Reduce stress: Chronic stress can worsen the symptoms of arthritis, so it's important to find ways to manage stress and relax. This may include meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises.

  • Get enough sleep: Getting enough sleep is vital for overall health and can also help manage the symptoms of arthritis. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night to help reduce pain and stiffness, and improve overall well-being.



"Canadians with arthritis are nearly 4 times as likely to say that their general health isn’t good, compared to those without arthritis." - Arthritis Society of Canada




To learn more about arthritis, click or tap the button below to visit the Arthritis Society Canada's website.



References:


Arthritis | CDC. 13 Oct. 2022, https://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/index.htm.


Arthritis Society of Canada. https://arthritis.ca/


Senthelal, Shayan, et al. “Arthritis.” StatPearls, StatPearls Publishing, 2022. PubMed, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK518992/.


Yasuda, Y. Lynn. Occupational Therapy Practice Guidelines for Adults with Rheumatoid Arthritis. American Occupational Therapy Association, 2001.


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