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Microsoft word - arthiritis article.doc
What is arthritis?
Arthritis is a very common disease affecting the joints, skin and various internal organs.
Chances are you or someone you know has arthritis. It causes pain, stiffness and
sometimes swelling in or around joints. This can make it hard to make the movements
you rely on every day to work or take care of your family. But you can take steps now to
avoid arthritis or to reduce pain and keep moving.
There are more than 100 different types of arthritis
and the cause of most types is
unknown. Scientists are currently studying what role three major factors play in certain
types of arthritis. These include the genetic factors you inherit from your parents, what
happens to you during your life and how you live. The importance of these factors varies
The Facts about Arthritis
• Arthritis is one of the most prevalent chronic health problems and the nation’s
leading cause of disability among people over age 15.
• Arthritis is second only to heart disease as a cause of work disability. • Arthritis limits everyday activities such as walking, dressing and bathing for more
• Arthritis results in 39 million physician visits and more than a half million
• Arthritis affects people in all age groups, one in every thousand effected is a child. • Baby boomers are now at prime risk. More than half those affected are under age
• Half of the people in Britain with arthritis don’t think anything can be done to
• Arthritis refers to more than a 100 different diseases that affect areas in or around
• Arthritis strikes women more often than men.
The disease also can affect other parts of the body. Arthritis causes pain, loss of
movement and sometimes swelling. Some types of arthritis are:
• Osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease in which the cartilage that covers the
ends of bones in the joint deteriorates, causing pain and loss of movement as bone
begins to rub against bone. It is the most prevalent form of arthritis.
• Rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease in which the joint lining becomes
inflamed as part of the body’s immune system activity. Rheumatoid arthritis is
one of the most serious and disabling types, affecting mostly women.
• Gout, which affects mostly men. It is usually the result of a defect in body
chemistry. This painful condition most often attacks small joints, especially the
big toe. Fortunately, gout almost always can be completely controlled with
• Ankylosing spondylitis, a type of arthritis that affects the spine. As a result of
inflammation, the bones of the spine grow together.
• Juvenile arthritis, a general term for all types of arthritis that occur in children.
Children may develop juvenile rheumatoid arthritis or childhood forms of lupus,
ankylosing spondylitis or other types of arthritis.
• Systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus), a serious disorder that can inflame and
damage joints and other connective tissues throughout the body.
• Scleroderma, a disease of the body’s connective tissue that causes a thickening
• Fibromyalgia, in which widespread pain affects the muscles and attachments to
Three Common Myths about Arthritis
Arthritis has been recognized for perhaps thousands of years. Unfortunately, many
misconceptions about this chronic condition have been around for almost as long. We
will try to debunk some of these myths about arthritis and provide some key definitions
Myth #1: Arthritis is just aches and pains.
One common myth is that arthritis is just another name for the aches and pains people get
as they grow older. While it is true that arthritis becomes more common as people age,
arthritis may begin at any age, including childhood. Conversely, some elderly people
never develop arthritis. Many forms of arthritis or musculoskeletal conditions are self-
limited and get better without specific treatment. Others, such as rheumatoid arthritis,
may be quite serious and may affect the body's internal organs as well as the joints.
Myth #2: Arthritis isn't really a serious health problem.
Taken collectively, the various types of arthritis and rheumatic diseases are the most
common chronic health conditions in the population, affecting about one in every three
adult British and nearly 300,000 children. These conditions become even more common
among older people. Even in people under 65, arthritis is a major cause of work
disability. For example, fewer than 50 percent of rheumatoid arthritis patients younger
than 65 who are working at the onset of the disease are still working 10 years later.
Myth #3: Not much can be done to alleviate the pain and disability of arthritis.
Unfortunately, there are no cures for most chronic rheumatic diseases. You may think
that little can be done to help your arthritis, but this is not true. Some improvement in the
pain and loss of function is possible in almost everyone with arthritis. Furthermore, the
disease process that may lead to joint destructions can be controlled effectively in most
people - particularly those with rheumatoid arthritis. More can be done today to ease the
pain of arthritis and to slow joint destruction than ever before.
Many people with serious types of arthritis, which were severely disabling as recently as
a generation ago, are now leading full and productive lives, thanks in part to many
developments, including new drugs and treatments, exercise programs, surgeries and self-
management. As a person with arthritis, your future is full of possibilities that were only
a dream 25 years ago. Please read our leaflets Help at Home with Daily Tasks
Principles of Arthritis Management
1. Each person is an individual and should be viewed as a person with a type of arthritis,
rather than as a type of arthritis seen in a person.
2. There is no best treatment for everyone who has a particular type of arthritis, as each
individual may respond differently to different treatments.
3. No single type of arthritis is always better or worse than another type.
4. Information and input from a person with arthritis can be as valuable in diagnosis and
management as information from laboratory tests and X-rays.
5. In arthritis management, the emphasis is on improving functionality of joints and
6. Your doctor and health-care team need your involvement to help you to the fullest
extent. People with arthritis and health professionals are partners in care.
7. Something can always be done to improve the situation for a person with arthritis.
WHAT CAN BE DONE RIGHT NOW?
Think there’s nothing you can do about arthritis? Here’s the great news! You can act
right now. Some of the ideas here are simple, one-time actions. Others are first steps
toward longer-term goals. All can directly or indirectly improve your health, outlook, and
pain level or can generally make life with arthritis a little easier.
Pay attention to symptoms, see your doctor and get an accurate diagnosis
If you have pain, stiffness or swelling in or around a joint for more than two weeks, it's
time to see your doctor. These symptoms can develop suddenly or slowly. Only a doctor
can tell if it's arthritis. But "you have arthritis" is not a diagnosis. Ask for a specific
diagnosis of the type of arthritis you have. There are more than 100 types, each of which
has different treatments. Getting the right treatment requires getting the right diagnosis.
The earlier an accurate diagnosis is made and treatment started the better. Early treatment
can often mean less joint damage and less pain. Your doctor may recommend a
combination of treatments that may include medication, weight management, and
exercise, use of heat or cold, and methods to protect your joints from further damage. See
your doctor for an early diagnosis and immediate treatment plan!
Protect your joints
Avoid excess stress on your joints. Use larger or stronger joints to carry things. Assistive
devices can make tasks at home and work easier. Staying close to your recommended
weight also helps relieve damaging pressure on hips and knees.
Exercise helps lessen pain, increases range of movement, reduces fatigue and helps you
feel better overall. Your doctor, a physical therapist, or other specially trained health
professionals can show you range-of-motion exercises and strengthening exercises that
are good for arthritis. The Arthritis Foundation also offers water exercise and other
classes. Contact your local office for details.
Pick, pour or peel
If you are looking for a tasty healthy treat, reach for an orange – or a tall glass of orange
juice. Why? Recent research has shown the importance of vitamin C and other
antioxidants in reducing the risk of osteoarthritis and its progression. Another bonus:
oranges and other citrus fruits are good sources of folic acid, which can help alleviate the
side effects of the arthritis drug methotrexate and reduce the risk of cardiovascular
Learn something new about arthritis. Building an understanding of your disease is an
important step in managing it. Start by reading our other free brochures.
Play in the dirt
Buy the seeds for three of your favourite veggies or flowers and plant a garden. Digging
in the dirt can be therapeutic for sore hands and can yield beautiful and fragrant – or
Have a good laugh
Read a book of jokes, rent a funny movie or watch your favourite sit-com or stand-up
comedian. Laughing – even when you feel like crying from agony – can relax muscles,
relieve pain and even boost your immune system.
Take an opportunity to tell someone — co-worker, friend, and family member — about
arthritis. Start with an interesting fact: Did you know that arthritis affects 70 million
people? Then go from there. They’ll understand you – and the way arthritis affects your
Resolve to reduce
Lose weight. You won’t just look better; you’ll feel better, too. Why? Every extra pound
you carry around translates to added stress to your knees and hips. Excess weight can
mean more pain, no matter which form of arthritis you have. It can also contribute to and
aggravate osteoarthritis, while increasing your risk of gout.
Stock up on your favourite source of calcium. A diet rich in this important mineral can
help decrease your risk of osteoporosis. If you don’t like drinking milk – or want some
variety – try consuming more milk products, such as yogurt, cheese and ice cream. Or
add powdered milk to puddings, gravies, shakes and other recipes. Other good sources of
calcium: broccoli, salmon (with the bones) and kale.
Begin with breakfast
Put up the pastry and grab some fruit, fiber (like oatmeal) and a tall glass of water instead
of coffee. Like you’ve always heard, a healthful breakfast is a great way to start the day.
Our free brochure on diet and arthritis can tell you more about healthy eating.
Treat your muscles
Find a certified massage therapist and treat yourself to a good rub down. The benefits
vary from person to person but may include decreased pain and increased circulation,
energy and flexibility. And besides, it just feels good.
Make a pack
When joints are hot and inflamed, applying something cold can decrease pain and
swelling by constricting blood vessels and preventing fluids from leaking into
surrounding tissues. Our favourite ice pack: a bag of frozen peas or corn that can be
If only for a day, and then another … and another. Smoking can increase your risk of
complications from lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. It can predispose you to osteoporosis.
Also, if you have to undergo joint surgery, smoking can prolong your recovery.
Appeal to a higher power
No one knows exactly how, but research is showing that spiritual belief and prayer can
help people feel better physically and emotionally.
PARTICIPANTS OF SACOSAN IV 4-7 APRIL 2011 1. VIPs Invited Minister for Rural Development Panchayati Raj, Ministry of Physical Planning & Work, Nepal Minister of Rural Rehabilitation and Development , Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Minister of Housing and Environment, Republic of Minister of Water Supply and Drainage in Sri Lanka Director General, Center for Science and Environment
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