March 15th, 2016
Arthritis is a condition that causes pain and inflammation in a joint and affects about 10 million people in the UK. There are several types of arthritis but the most common are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis affects about 8 million people in the UK and usually develops in the over 50s. However, it can occur at any age as a result of injury or another joint related condition. It initially affects the smooth cartilage of the joint making movement more difficult and leading to pain and stiffness. The cartilage between the joints gradually erodes, causing the bones in the joint to rub together. The joints that are most usually affected are the hands, spine, knees and hips.
Rheumatoid arthritis affects about 400,000 people and often starts between 40 and 50. Women are three times more likely to be affected than men. It occurs when the body’s immune system targets affected joints leading to pain and swelling.
The symptoms of arthritis depend on the type you have, so it’s important to get an accurate diagnosis if you have:
There is no cure for arthritis but you can take various painkillers, non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and corticosteroids. In severe cases surgical procedures such as joint replacement, joint fusion, etc are available.
However, there are also many ways to help you live with arthritis. The earlier arthritis is diagnosed the better. It is very important to eat healthily so you get all the nutrients you need, and by reducing your weight you will put less strain on your joints.
If your arthritis is painful you may not feel like exercising but being active can help reduce and prevent pain.Regular exercise can also:
Swimming is a good exercise to choose as it puts no weight on your joints but helps all of the above. For more advice speak to our pharmacist. You also need to take extra care of your joints to prevent further damage.
You should try to reduce any stress on your joints while doing your everyday tasks like moving or lifting. Some tips on how t do this are:
It’s also important to avoid sitting in the same position for long periods of time and to take regular breaks so you can move around.
If you have arthritis carrying out tasks around the home can be a challenge. However, making some practical changes to your home, and changing the way you work, should make things easier. Practical tips include:
An occupational therapist can help if you have severe arthritis that is affecting your ability to move around your home and carry out everyday tasks, such as cooking and cleaning. They can also advise you about equipment you may need to help you live independently.