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When a Joint Says "Ouch" (Arthritis)

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Today we are going to talk about arthritiswhen a joint says ouch.

Lifestyle Medicine Institute

Tired of being a pulmonary cripple with frequent hospitalizations for pneumonia, Mavis Lindgren at age 70 began training for marathons. By age 85 she had run 63 marathons, at approximately 26 miles (or 42 km) each. After running her third marathon during her 89th year she told reporters, At my age its a wonderful thing to get up in the morning and not hurt anywhere."


What is arthritis? "Arthritis" is a general term commonly used to describe diseases in the joints.

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The word just means inflammation of a joint.

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Our joints allow us to move. They are the hinges of the body. They need to be well lubricated, strong and healthy.

When a Joint Says "Ouch" (Arthritis)

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Just like the ligaments and muscles, joints wear with use and need to be constantly repaired--a process that normally occurs during sleep.

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How does a joint tell you when it is getting damaged?

It begins to hurt and may get stiff.

It may also swell up and become red. Often people with the disease feel worse in the mornings and the pain and stiffness lessen as the joint is warmed. All these signs may be common to most forms of arthritis.
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There are many different types of arthritis. The most common is osteoarthritis.

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Osteoarthritis usually occurs when a joint's blood supply becomes inadequate for its needed function. Just as a heart will weaken and ultimately fail when the coronary arteries clog up with plaque,


When a Joint Says "Ouch" (Arthritis)

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so joints begin to break down when the arteries supplying them become narrowed or obstructed. Gradually ligaments weaken, joint fluids decrease, and cartilage wears away.


Weight-bearing joints, such as the ones in the spine, knees, and hips, are commonly affected. This is worsened by extra body weight.


Just as a bridge has a load limit, so do the joints.

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Osteoarthritis can also occur at any time after an injury or excessive wear-and-tear to a joint, as often happens in sports.


Many people believe that osteoarthritis is the commonest cause of backache. This is not so. In fact,


only about 10 percent of backaches are caused by osteoarthritis or disc problems.


When a Joint Says "Ouch" (Arthritis)

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Up to 80 percent of low back sufferers are victims of either overworked or under-exercised muscles. A strained muscle may suddenly go into a spasm and become a painful, knotty mass.


Once serious back injury has been ruled out, the important thing to do with backaches is to get on your feet and start walking. Back specialists say that prolonged bed rest will do more harm than good, because rest causes your back muscles to weaken rapidly. Fortunately most back problems resolve themselves in 4 to 12 weeks. Here are five tips to prevent recurrence, or to prevent backache entirely.


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1. Keep your weight down - that's the biggest favor you can do for your back.


Number 2. Avoid high heels (over one inch). They tilt the pelvis and throw the back out of alignment.

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Number 3. Strengthen your back and abdominal muscles with stretching exercises.


When a Joint Says "Ouch" (Arthritis)

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Number 4. Walk, swim or cycle at least 20 minutes five times a week.

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Number 5. Eat a diet low in fat and high in fiber These measures are important for back pain as well as for all kinds of arthritis.

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Gout is another type of arthritis. From antiquity this disease has been associated with the lifestyles of the rich


too much rich food and too little activity. You can still see pictures in old history books of kings, with a foot propped up on a footstool, protecting that painful big toe.

In those days the afflicted royal person was often sent to live and work with the peasants. This was effective because a simplified diet and a more active life eventually reversed the disease. Even today many experience relief from gout by eating a simpler diet, combined with regular exercise. There is another kind of arthritis which is very different from osteoarthritis, or gout, and that is rheumatoid arthritis.

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When a Joint Says "Ouch" (Arthritis)

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This kind of arthritis is not caused by injury and wear and tear. It is the result of an autoimmune disease. In autoimmune diseases the immune system, which is the body's defense system, attacks cells in the body, misreading them as foreign invaders.



In rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system attacks primarily the joints. Acute attacks tend to recur over the years, often destroying cartilage and tendons. This may lead to gradual stiffening and disfiguring of the joints, most notably the wrist and finger joints. Occasionally this disease may also affect the eyes, heart, and other organs. It is not known what causes the body to fight against itself. In some cases this disease seems to run in families.


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Research also shows that dietary habits may be important. Studies of rural populations in developing countries show a fraction of the incidence of rheumatoid arthritis of that found among their urban counterparts.

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Also, many people with rheumatoid arthritis experience less stiffness and pain when on a diet rich in plant-foods like fruits, grains and vegetables.

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On the other hand, foods such as milk, eggs and other animal products may worsen the symptoms of this disease.


When a Joint Says "Ouch" (Arthritis)


The best long-term results in this chronic, baffling disease are seen in people who are willing to adopt a diet free from any animal products.

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Despite the fact that there are many forms of arthritis, including some related diseases such as chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia, the following general principles are effective in treating most cases:


Normalizing weight is extremely important. Every extra pound increases the wear and tear of the main weight-bearing joints--the hips, knees, and spine.

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A largely plant-based diet, which is low in fat and high in fiber, has been shown to improve circulation to the joints. In time, this kind of diet may help open up some of the narrowed arteries. Fat thickens the blood and slows down its circulation. Fat also causes red blood cells to stick to each other, so that they are unable to navigate the smaller arterioles to deliver needed oxygen. Eliminating flesh food, eggs and dairy products can result in a surprising amount of improvement in all these diseases, but especially rheumatoid arthritis.

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Physical activity helps to supply nutrients to cartilage and strengthens the ligaments and muscles around joints. It also helps to prevent stiff joints. Physical activity is extremely important in preventing chronic disability.


When a Joint Says "Ouch" (Arthritis)


When joints are painful consider contacting a physical therapist and asking about alternative forms of exercise, which may be more appropriate for you. Swimming, for example, can be a good exercise for those with painful joints. Exercise will also help you to control your weight and is beneficial in preventing diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. A few minutes of exposure to sunlight each day when joints are painful aids the healing process.


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Drink plenty of water. Eight to ten glasses a day is the ideal amount to keep our bodies healthy. This will also help to keep your joints well lubricated.


Occasionally joints become so damaged that a person can no longer be active and independent. Your doctor can advise you about possible surgical procedures such as joint replacements that may help you to regain mobility. Close relationships with others, cheerfulness, joy, laughter, and especially faith in Divine Power all promote healing. The wise man summed it up well:



Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16:24


When a Joint Says "Ouch" (Arthritis)


Fight for your health. Stay active. Most people who get better are the ones who take an active role in bringing about positive, permanent changes in their lifestyles. It's never too late to start.

Lifestyle Medicine Institute

Think about what Mavis Lindgren accomplished, beginning at age 70. Wouldn't it be great to be free from arthritis at age 89?