Arthritis pain and Treating with D.R.E.A.M.

“It is probably just arthritis”

Arthritis pain and Osteoarthritis

Checking an Anterior to Posterior view of the Lumbar Spine for arthritis

No one wants to hear the dreaded “you have arthritis” diagnosis. Arthritis pain does NOT mean sitting on the sidelines.  That might actually worsen it. Avoiding triggers for your pain by avoiding the things you love is not a good solution. Dr. Dade has advised patients on the cornerstones of diet, rest, exercise, alignment, and mindfulness (D.R.E.A.M.) for over 20 years. Being attentive to these areas you can manage arthritis symptoms and decrease pain and stay active.

There are different types of arthritis. Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative joint disease vs. an inflammatory autoimmune disease. We will focus on OA as it affects the greatest number of people, over 31 million in the United States alone (source, Arthritis Foundation). More information on the inflammatory types of arthritis, including rheumatoid and psoriatic, can be found here.

What is arthritis pain and osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis or “OA” is a joint disease that most commonly affects people over age 45. It’s a degenerative disease in which the cartilage between bones breaks down, often causing pain, swelling, and stiffness. Some people may experience crepitus (a grinding/crunching/creaking) while moving an affected joint. Most commonly OA affects joints that bear loads, such as the knees, hips, lower back, and neck. Frequently the same cartilage loss is seen in small joints with frequent motion and repetitive stress, namely the fingers and toes. Joints that have been injured from sports or accidents can also be culprits for osteoarthritis later in life. If OA is allowed to progress to where the joint’s cartilage erodes, bones will rub together with minimal  cushioning, which can lead to debilitating pain and sometimes require joint replacement.

OA is commonly referred to as the “wear and tear” of life, due to how it sneaks up on a person. Long before chronic pain, you may feel muscle stiffness. We shrug it off as general aging; take over-the-counter medications like Advil, Motrin, Aleve, or Tylenol and start limiting  our activity. Unfortunately, joint stiffness will tend to worsen with periods of inactivity.

While currently there is no cure, you do NOT just have to suffer with arthritis. It can be significantly moderated with lifestyle modifications

What is “D.R.E.A.M.”

Diet:

Modifying your diet when you have arthritis is important for several reasons, including weight control, inflammation reduction, and cartilage protection. An optimal diet for arthritis sufferers could be a blog topic all on its own, but suffice it to say diet is one one of the largest things we can control to affect our overall health and well-being. There is research to support the link between inflammation and numerous diseases, as well as evidence that eating specific foods that reduce inflammation can vastly improve quality of life and even slow the progression of the OA. Along with eating plenty of vegetables and eliminating or greatly reducing your intake of simple sugars and saturated fats, omega 3 fatty acids should be a focal point of your eating plan. If you’re looking for a full diet plan to follow, the Mediterranean diet is one of the best to consider in combating OA.

Rest:

Wait a minute… If I’m inactive, I’ll hurt MORE!  It is more about knowing your limits and pacing yourself than it is about swearing off activity altogether. Cautiously experiment to find the right amount and type of activity for you. The goal is to stay active with the least amount of discomfort. Begin with less than you think you can, then build up activity from there. Using a diary or log to help link symptoms  to specific activities.

Exercise:

Exercise is key for shedding excess weight that can be hard on our joints.   Building strength, flexibility, and endurance when done correctly also helps reduce tissue sensitivity. Traditional exercise does not always work for someone with arthritis.  Exercises need to be modified, to allow for activation of the muscles while minimizing irritation. Great exercises are swimming, yoga, tai chi, and low-impact walking. Gentle stretching can also help to improve flexibility, as well as reduce pain and stiffness.

Alignment:

This is your posture and how you relate to your environment.  It includes workplace ergonomics, the adjustment of your car seat, and even making sure the your is fitted bicycle correctly.  Poor posture, will focus stress on key joints in the body, enhancing load on them and causing pain and more rapid wear.

Mindfulness:

Patients fear pain will become their new normal. That they will have learn to live with it.  This is rarely the case. The mindset that things can be improved and managed will help motivate you to continue taking steps toward improvement. Additionally, research supports the theory that a positive outlook boosts the immune system and increases a person’s ability to manage pain.

     Hopefully, this shows that much can be done to manage osteoarthritis. This is all before supplements, medications, and medical procedures. Combining Dr. Dade’s prescription of D.R.E.A.M.           with traditional arthritis management methods, gives a solid path away from chronic pain, towards a healthier and happier lifestyle.

   Need more help?

    Contact us here to ask a question about arthritis pain or set up an appointment.

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