Arthritis

By Nicole Lipinski, RN, MS, ADC- MC, CDP

You may notice pain and swelling in your joints as you age. What is that? The general term for this is arthritis. There are many different types of arthritis —however, if you have an overall swelling and tenderness of one or more of your joints you may be experiencing the “pains of arthritis”.

Arthritis is characterized by pain, swelling and tenderness of one or more joints. You may see a decreased range of motion in the affected joint.  Depending on the type of arthritis you have, it may be worse at one time of the day versus the other. The symptoms may get worse with age.

The good news is there are things you can modify in your diet which may help those aches and pains.  Although there is no official diet for those suffering from this disease, certain foods may make inflammation worse while other foods may help. Let’s take a look.

It is best to avoid fried foods, prepared frozen meals and refined carbohydrates.  Research has shown that reducing the amount of these foods will reduce inflammation introduced to the body.  Dairy products bring about conflict in research. Some research reflects that dairy food contains a protein that increases the inflammation in the joints. This research is refuted by others who say dairy foods have anti-inflammatory effects. The best thing you can do in this situation is do what works for your body. If dairy foods do not cause an inflammatory reaction, then go ahead and keep eating!

Being a smoker puts you at a higher risk of developing arthritis. Smoking reduces bone mass and can lead to osteoporosis. Consuming too much alcohol will put you at risk for developing gout. It is best to drink in moderation and stop smoking.

Looking for the best options? Of course, the best way to keep your arthritis pain under control is to work with your doctor and follow their recommendations. You can also be successful by eating a healthy diet.  Include more vegetables and fruits in your diet. Protein sources from spinach, nut butters, tofu, beans, lentils, and quinoa can have anti-inflammatory properties and help reduce some of the pain and swelling associated with arthritis.

Low impact exercise is also a great way to help maintain flexibility and range of motion. It is important to “take the load off the joints”.  Swimming or aquatic therapy are great ways to exercise your joints. You may also enjoy yoga or other low impact exercises to keep those joints moving.  You should alternate positions at work between standing and sitting if you can. This will help to keep your joints from getting stiff. You will want to avoid kickboxing or high impact classes which can be tough on your joints.

It is important to maintain a healthy weight. Carrying around extra pounds can be rough on your joints and will increase your pain. Therefore it makes sense you will want to eat a healthy balanced diet. Last – do what works for you! You know your body best and know what triggers an inflammatory reaction.

For more health topics, visit our website, www.jhep.org or contact Nicole Lipinski, RN, MS, ADC-MC, CDP, Director of Healthy Aging at 570-344-6177 ext. 1113.