Action on Arthritis
With more than 10 million of us here in the UK suffering from arthritis, we offer tips on easing the pain.
Pain can be difficult and depressing to live with. One of the most common causes of pain in elderly people is arthritis, a blanket term for 200 conditions affecting the joints and bones.
There is no cure and treatment usually involves a mix of drugs, physiotherapy, occupational therapy and even surgery. If this is unsuccessful a circle of pain, anxiety and depression can follow, with the person often becoming unfit and overweight, afraid to exercise in case it damages their joints. In most cases it will not, unless the joints are inflamed and gentle physical exercise is generally beneficial.
Although it is often associated with the elderly, there are, in fact, more than 10 million arthritis sufferers in the UK and it can affect all of us, no matter how young and fit. So here are some tips on managing the condition.
Although arthritis, and especially osteoarthritis, is more common in the elderly, it is by no means restricted to this age group alone. In fact figures from the NHS have shown more than 15,000 children and young people are affected by the condition in the UK.
Antioxidants are key
A lot of joint pain and stiffness is caused by inflammation around the joint tissue, so it is important to include plenty of antioxidants in your diet that can help to flush out any nasty toxins from your system. “Eat plenty of cherries, blueberries, blackberries, cranberries and beetroot, as well as carrots, sweet potatoes and tomatoes,” says Dr Marilyn Glenville, the UK’s leading nutritionist (www.marilynglenville.com), author of The Natural Health Bible for Women, who has a clinic in Tunbridge Wells.
“You can also try taking a cucurmin supplement such as Nature’s Plus Source of Life Garden Cucurmin (£31.75, www.naturesplus.co.uk), which contains the anti-inflammatory properties found in turmeric, and helps combat against inflammation,” adds nutritionist Cassandra Barns.
Don’t stop exercising
Regular exercise, especially during the winter when your joints can seize up in the cold weather, is really important. Exercise can help keep your joints supple and may even help to reduce some of the pain. Try aerobic exercises such as Pilates, swimming or cycling. Swimming can be especially effective as the buoyancy of the water can help support the joints as you exercise. Walking is also a great option.
If you need a little extra help, try taking a supplement such as glucosamine, which helps to support joint health and improve mobility. However, if you are in considerable pain after exercising it may be worth making an appointment with your GP.
Some types of arthritis such as rheumatoid are autoimmune conditions, meaning the body mistakenly attacks its own joint tissue. It is therefore important to make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D, which is vital for supporting a healthy immune system. Make sure you’re eating plenty of foods rich in vitamin D such as fish, milk, fortified cereals and eggs.
Let your body rest
Statistics have shown that 68% of people with arthritis report depression when their pain is at its worst, not to mention how many people report severe fatigue as one of the main side affects from the condition, therefore looking after yourself and allowing your body time to rest should be at the top of your priority list. Treat yourself to a warm bath where you can let the warm water help soothe the pain.