How much do you know about rheumatism?
You probably know it's related to pain in the joints. Yes, joints are only one affected area. Therefore, rheumatism is a broad term that also includes inflammation of bones, muscles, tendons and even internal organs. But let's focus only on joint pain with you here.
What Causes Joint Pain?
The two most common causes of joint pain are osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Other factors can be sprain, fracture, gout in the big toes, septic arthritis or polyarthritis.
Let's take a closer look at osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
It's a condition where spurs grow and cartilage degenerates in the joints, leading to joint pain. It's also known as "wear-and-tear" arthritis. Some symptoms are:
-- The stiffness in the joints disappears within 30 minutes from the time the patient wakes up but aggravates later in the day after repetitive use or after a prolonged inactivity.
-- Starts with one joint.
-- Often happens in large joints or joints related to knee and hip.
-- An affected joint tends to look a little larger than normal. This is due to abnormal growth of the bone next to damaged cartilage.
-- More common than rheumatoid arthritis.
-- Slow and gradual pain.
-- Usually affects older people.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
This is an autoimmune disorder due to the malfunction of certain immune cells in the patient's body which attacks the joints. Hence, he'll encounter the following symptoms:
-- Morning stiffness lasts more than 30 minutes.
-- Warmth, swelling and pain often begins with the small joints of hands and wrists near the palm or the small joints of toes.
-- Affected joints are usually symmetrical such as the same joints on both hands.
-- Can also trigger fever, fatigue, depression, loss of appetite, dry eyes and chest pain.
-- Can lead to joint deformities.
How does Obesity Worsen the Condition?
Although doctors have yet to prove if obesity causes rheumatism, they believe excess weight certainly doesn't help the patients. In fact, they believe obesity will increase the risk of both OA and RA.
That's because the excess weight will add more pressure on the inflamed joints, aggravating the pain, especially in the affected joint areas around knees, spinal cord and hip.
Currently, there are no cures for OA and RA but the treatments can help to relieve pain and improve joint movement so that patients can still go about their daily tasks.
The treatment often comes as a program - medications, physical and occupational therapy, reduction of joint stress and sometimes surgery. But if a patient is also obese, weight loss will inevitably become part of the program.
Right Exercise can Help Obese OA / RA Patient
1. Flexibility exercises help to maintain or improve the flexibility in affected joints and surrounding muscles. This contributes to better posture, reduced risk of injuries and improved function.
2. Strengthening exercises are more vigorous to work muscles a bit harder. Stronger muscles can better support the joints and cushion the shock impact to the painful joint. They also assist in better function and reduce bone loss due to inactivity, inflammatory arthritis and use of certain medications such as corticosteroids.
3. Aerobic exercises such as walking and swimming are good for weight control as they work off the excess fats and replace with useful muscles. For even better fat-burning results, you can engage in anaerobic exercises like strength training. But you must consult your doctor and make sure to have a certified trainer to guide you along such high-intensity exercises that can cause injuries pretty easily.
4. Body awareness exercises improve posture, balance, joint position awareness, coordination and relaxation. This is especially important as the patient's sense of balance and coordination may be impaired due to the illness.
Natural Arthritis Diet for Pain Relief
Stay away from acidic stuff like coffee, tea, sugar and alcohol. You should also cut down on intake of meat and seafood since these are high in cholesterol, saturated fats, salt and toxins. For best results, I suggest you include these natural vegetarian foods as a significant part of your diet:
a) Fruits - avocado
b) Vegetables - spirulina, wheat grass products, carrots, seaweeds, sprouts
c) Whole grains - millet, wheat, brown rice, barley and oats
d) Nuts - pecans
e) Soy and seeds - flaxseed, pumpkin and sesame
This natural diet serves to help you maintain a healthy weight. According to the Arthritis Foundation, for every pound of weight lost, there is a four-pound reduction in the load exerted on the knee for each step taken. Simply put, the less heavy you are, the less pain you suffer.
Last but not least, whether you're suffering from rheumatism or not, sticking to a healthy diet and regular exercise regime are always essential.