Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine Focused on Energetics of Food
A diagnosis of Arthritis is a general term for more than 100 diseases. Arthritis as defined by Webster’s Dictionary is inflammation of a joint as in gout or rheumatism. The word “arthro” translates to “joint” and “itis” in pathological terms represents inflammation.
A joint is where two or more bones come together, such as the hip or knee. The bones of a joint are covered with a smooth, spongy material called cartilage, which cushions the bones and allows the joint to move without pain.
With an arthritic condition, an area in or around a joint becomes inflamed, causing pain, stiffness and, sometimes, difficulty moving. Some types also affect other parts of the body, such as the skin and internal organs.
Gout is also inflammation of joints and typically seen in the feet or hands but especially in the large toe; diagnosis is identified by an excess of uric acid in the blood.
The U. S. Center for disease Control and Prevention reports from 1997 to 2003 there has been a 25% increase in the number of adult Americans with arthritic conditions and some rheumatic conditions. More than 46 million people now suffer from these conditions.
Americans born between 1946 and 1964, typically referred to as baby boomers, are those most affected. Of the nine million people diagnosed during a six year study, 66% were between the ages of 44 to 64.
Some of the most common types of Arthritis are:
Osteoarthritis: This is the most common type. Osteoarthritis is diagnosed when the cartilage covering the end of the bones has worn away. If the cartilage has worn away the bones begin to rub against each other causing pain and swelling. Osteoarthritis can occur in any joint but typically will affect the hands, knee, hip and joints of the spine. Typically osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage has broken down or has degenerated with age and may be referred to as degenerative joint disease.
Rheumatoid Arthritis: Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is typically seen in the hands, wrists or knees but may attack any joint of the body. The unusual affects of RA causes the immune system to attack itself and cause swelling in the joints. What happens then is the inflammation spreads to other parts of the body causing damage to cartilage and bone.
Gout: Gout is diagnosed when the body cannot rid itself of uric acid causing the excess acid to form painful crystals in the joints that cause swelling and pain. Typically, gout is seen in the big toe, knee or wrist joints.
Why Do I have Arthritis?
There are many different types of arthritis and the cause of most types is not known. It's likely that there are many different causes. Researchers are examining the role of genetics (heredity) and lifestyle behaviors in the development of arthritic conditions.
Although the exact causes may not be known, there are several risk factors. (A risk factor is a trait or behavior that increases a person's chance of developing a disease or predisposes a person to a certain condition.) Risk factors for arthritis include:
Age. The risk increases with age, especially osteoarthritis.
Gender. In general, arthritis occurs more frequently in women than in men.
Obesity. Being overweight puts extra stress on weight-bearing joints, increasing wear and tear, and increasing the risk, especially osteoarthritis.
Work factors. Some jobs that require repetitive movements or heavy lifting can stress the joints and/or cause an injury, which can lead to an arthritic condition, particularly osteoarthritis.
What Are Some of the Symptoms?
Joint pain and progressive stiffness without noticeable swelling, chills or fever during normal activities probably indicate the gradual onset of osteoarthritis.
Painful swelling, inflammation and stiffness in the fingers, arms, legs, wrists occurring in the same joints on both sides of the body, especially on awakening, may be signs of rheumatoid arthritis.
Fever, joint inflammation, tenderness and sharp pain, sometimes accompanied by chills and associated with an injury or another illness, may indicate infectious arthritic condition.
A very painful, swollen, red, and warm joint may be due to gout.
In children, intermittent fever, loss of appetite, weight loss, anemia or blotchy rash on the arms and legs may signal juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.
Call Your Doctor If:
The pain and stiffness come on quickly, whether from an injury or an unknown cause - you may be experiencing the onset of rheumatoid arthritis.
The pain is accompanied by fever.
You notice pain and stiffness in your arms, legs or back after sitting for short periods or after a night's sleep; you may be developing osteoarthritis or another arthritic condition.
A child develops pain or a rash on armpits, knees, wrists, and ankles, or has fever swings, poor appetite, and weight loss; the child may have juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.
How Will I Know If I have Arthritis?
Your doctor will perform a physical exam with a complete family medical history. Your doctor may also recommend X-rays or an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging; a sophisticated x-ray technique.)
Lab tests on your blood, urine and also joint fluid may be drawn to help determine the type of arthritis diagnosed.Treatment for Arthritic Conditions
Treatment generally includes occupational or physical therapy, exercise, drugs, and sometimes surgery to correct joint damage. Treatments for osteoarthritis generally can help relieve pain and stiffness, but the disease may continue to progress. The same was true for rheumatoid arthritis in the past. But treatments in recent years have been able to slow or stop progression of the arthritic damage.
The duration and intensity of pain and discomfort depend on the type of arthritis and the degree of severity.
In the case of localized pain, stiffness and immobility, the typical three-stage treatment consists of medication to relieve pain and inflammation, rest to let injured tissues heal themselves, and exercise to rebuild mobility and strength.
Vioxx and Celebrex, drugs that are used for arthritis treatments, have been shown to increase the chances for a stroke or heart attack for certain patients. Because of this, natural arthritis treatments are becoming more popular. Research has shown that certain foods and beverages can help as an arthritis natural treatment.
Rheumatoid Arthritis and Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Complementary and Alternative Medicine is a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine. Conventional medicine is medicine as practiced by holders of M.D. (medical doctor) or D.O. (doctor of osteopathy) degrees and by their allied health professionals, such as nurses, physical therapists, and dietitians. Some practitioners of conventional medicine are also practitioners of Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
Learning to protect your joints is an important part of treatment. With the help of an occupational therapist, you can learn easier ways to do your normal activities, such as avoiding positions that strain your joints, using your strongest joints and muscles while sparing weaker ones, wearing braces or supports for certain joints and using grab bars in the bath, modified door knobs, canes or walkers, as well as using devices to help you with tasks such as opening jars or pulling up socks and zippers.
Your doctor may recommend pain relievers combined with regimens of heat, rest and exercise, physical therapy, and controlled application of deep heat to soothe affected joints.
To reduce pain and inflammation in mild cases of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, your doctor will probably prescribe aspirin or another nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), such as ibuprofen. Your doctor may also suggest acetaminophen for osteoarthritis.
In more advanced cases, your doctor may recommend corticosteroid joint injections - strong anti-inflammatories - to ease the pain and stiffness of affected joints. Depending on the individual, results range from temporary relief to long-lasting suppression of symptoms.
Can Arthritis be Prevented?
Even though you may not be able to prevent arthritis from developing, there are ways to reduce your risk and/or to slow down or prevent permanent joint damage. Major factors to prevent permanent joint damage are:
Eating a well balanced, nutritious diet that includes fruits, vegetables, and whole grains will strengthen your bones and muscles.
Maintaining a healthy weight. If you are overweight now is the time to start that diet. Excess weight adds stress to your knees that in turn translates to more pain.
Exercising to keep your muscles strong and in shape. Yes, exercise helps to decrease the pain, increases your ability to be mobile and helps you feel better about yourself. Your doctor may recommend a physical therapist or trained health care professional to show you specific exercises to actually help you feel better.
Simple stretching is a good way to keep joints and muscles where they move easier and with more flexibility. An added bonus is it helps to relieve stress of the day.
Jump in the pool! Exercising in the water helps to build strength and increase your range of motion while the water is reducing the wear and tear on those sore joints.
Early diagnosis and treatment will often mean less joint damage and less pain. An early accurate diagnosis is essential so pay attention to your body and early symptoms. If you are having pain, stiffness or swelling around a joint for more than two weeks, make an appointment with your doctor. If he makes a diagnosis of arthritis, be sure to ask what type. There are over 100 types, all of which require different treatments. So make sure you get the right diagnosis to get the proper treatment.
Omega 3 Fatty Acid and Whole Food Supplements
Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids
can help reduce inflammation, pain, and joint destruction in people with Rheumatoid Arthritis by reducing the activity of chemical messengers that are most likely to cause inflammation and joint destruction. Please note that it may take up to 6 months to see a reduction in RA inflammation and pain from a diet rich in omega 3 fatty acids.
A diet rich in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) and the antioxidant vitamin E may also help reduce inflammation and pain in people with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Beneficial results have occurred as early as 6 weeks after beginning a diet rich in MUFA and vitamin E. Olive oil and high-oleic acid oils, such as canola and high-oleic safflower oil, are rich sources of monounsaturated fatty acids.
Antioxidants help prevent cell and tissue damage by free radicals. How? By scavenging for and "neutralizing" them. Some experts say that an adequate intake of antioxidants may even reduce the production of free radicals, which can help slow the progression of RA and may even reduce your RA symptoms and need for medication.
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The U.S. government has spent billions trying to find a cure for heart disease, cancer, and other diseases.
Disease is easier to PREVENT than it is to cure.
Eat 7-13 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables every day.
Almost no one does.
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