Raising awareness for National Arthritis Week 7-13 October 2013

09 October

Understanding Arthritis

Arthritis is a common condition that affects 10 million people in the UK, both young and old.  It’s caused by an inflammation of the joints and can vary in its severity.  Common symptoms sufferers experience include:

  • pain, tenderness and stiffness of the joints
  • joint inflammation
  • restricted movement
  • warmth and redness of the skin
  • weakness and wasting of the muscles

Rheumatoid arthritis is one of the more severe forms, and if you have a relative suffering from this condition it’s likely that they’ll require extra support – especially in the mornings when their joints will be particularly painful.

Reducing pain and coping with symptoms

Although there is no known cure for arthritis, there are a number of things that you can do to help your relative reduce the symptoms associated with this health condition.

Exercise

It may seem unlikely, but daily exercise can be key in reducing the symptoms of arthritis.  So its well worth encouraging your loved one to stay active, this of course may mean you may have to get involved a bit yourself to keep their interest, but even those with severe arthritis can benefit from simple exercises like walking.

Diet

Ensuring your relative is eating a healthy, well-balanced diet will help them manage their weight and provide the nutrients they need.  A healthy diet is one that is:

  • high in fruit and veg
  • high in starch and fibre
  • low in saturated fats and salt
  • low in added sugars

Although there isn’t a direct connection between food and the symptoms of arthritis, some foods may reduce inflammation.  Many sufferers have reported that foods rich in omega-3, such as oily fish, can ease the symptoms of inflammatory arthritis.

Medication

Medications, such as painkillers, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs, can be used to manage the symptoms of arthritis.

If they haven’t done so already, your relative should arrange an appointment with their doctor to discuss which medications are suitable for them.  This will enable them to weigh up the potential side effects and benefits to find the best treatment for them.

Coping with the emotional challenges of arthritis

When caring for someone with arthritis it is important to keep positive and focus on the things they can do, rather than what they can’t.  This will help boost their self-confidence and ensure a positive outlook.

The more severe forms of arthritis can be frustrating and painful for sufferers so it’s also important, if you’re caring for someone with arthritis, to keep an eye out for symptoms of depression and seek appropriate help if you’re concerned.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that there are a number of support groups which can help with the emotional challenges of arthritis, including Arthritis Research UK and Arthritis Care, where sufferers and their carers can receive specialist advice on how to cope with their condition.


Article by CarewatchCare