If you are aged between 40 and 60, then it is likely your body will start showing arthritic symptoms. Maybe nodules on your fingers or stiff knees and hips? A very common issue for all of us, arthritis causes pain and inflammation when the cartilage around the joint breaks down, eventually making it difficult to move.
What Are the 5 Most Common Symptoms?
1. PAIN: The first sign of arthritis is undoubtedly pain, often when you have used a particular joint a lot. It will start with a dull ache in the joint, along with a burning sensation, and the older you get, the more chronic the pain becomes. As the cartilage breaks down, the patient has bone grinding on bone, hence the need for joint replacement surgery, whereby an orthopedic prosthesis replaces the dysfunctional joint. Arthritis pain can be worse at night as the body releases less cortisol, which in turn raises the inflammation-related pain. Cortisol is a hormone that controls blood pressure and reduces inflammation. Pain can come and go, but it will remain for your lifetime. You may also experience numbness and tingling in the initial stages of arthritis forming.
2. STIFFNESS: The spongy, cushion of cartilage that protects the ends of your bones dries out as you age. Your body also makes less synovial fluid, the thick liquid greaser that keeps your joints moving smoothly. Loss of synovial fluid means a decrease in cartilage thickness. Synovial fluid requires movement to keep your joints loose, so when you do not move for several hours, you stiffen and do not move freely. Excess body weight puts stress on joints, especially your knees. Be mindful of your BMI. And keep moving to avoid getting stiff. Stretching is so important to alleviate arthritis – a range of motion exercises are best. Unfortunately, there is no cure and symptoms will worsen with age.
3. SWELLING: In rheumatoid arthritis, the body’s immune system attacks the joint lining, called the synovial membrane and the joint swells, and becomes inflamed. Over a period of time, this continued swelling weakens your ligaments too and can lead to deformities. When hard, swollen nodules occur on the finger joints, this is a permanent condition called Heberden’s nodes . Swollen joints are a sign that your arthritis is worsening. Areas that may be affected will be your hands, wrists, knees, feet, ankles, hips, elbows, neck or shoulders. If the swelling is severe your GP might recommend injecting an anti-inflammatory medication called hydrocorticsone into the joint. For flare-ups, cold and hot compresses, for about 20 minutes, can be useful, as cold will reduce swelling and heat will relax the muscles and joints. Try keeping a diary of the foods you eat to see if any particular foods aggravate the swelling. A flare-up can last up to a week.
4. JOINT REDNESS: A common condition with rheumatoid arthritis, joint inflammation gives a red skin colour appearance. This is because the inflammation causes the blood vessels surrounding the joint to widen. Your skin may even be warm to touch. Rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis repeatedly affect the skin.
5. DECREASED RANGE OF MOTION: When you bounce out of bed in the morning and your legs just feel stiff and slow to move, then this is an early sign of arthritis. You may have no pain, but that decreased range of motion (the distance joints can move in specified directions) is a tell-tale sign. The worst thing you can do is avoid physical activity. Gentle stretches are highly recommended to keep your joints moving and stay away from high impact activity such as jogging. Walking is best. I have arthritis in my knees, so my tip is to sit on a bar stool and swing your legs for 10 minutes each day, just to keep your knees supple. Swelling, pain and stiffness all affect your joint mobility.
There are 3 types of arthritis:
- The most common is osteoarthritis, which causes the cartilage at the end of each bone to break down. The cartilage wears away over the years and then the bones scrape each other resulting in a stiff and painful joint. It is more common in women than men.
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease, whereby the immune system attacks the joint linings. Usually, it starts in the hands and feet and can affect adults of any age. RA causes constant pain and stiffness.
- Psoriatic arthritis generally affects people with psoriasis, which blends the skin disorder with joint inflammation.
The main goal is to reduce symptoms to improve your quality of life. Medication, natural supplements, therapies and patient support are all critical to achieving this. Naturally Turmeric Australia recommends using turmeric due to its age-old anti-inflammatory properties. Mixed results from studies show that collagen is also beneficial. But it is up to you to research and find the best product to suit your needs. No two people have the same bodies and solution.