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How can joint pain or arthritis affect my life?

Dealing with joint pain or mild arthritis can be hard to accept and may cause upset to your life. Knowing how things may change for you and understanding the ways you can deal with these changes will help you to accept living with joint pain or mild arthritis and help you live your life to the fullest. 

What causes joint pain?

Joint pain is very common with many possible causes, but it’s usually a result of injury or arthritis1.

You can get joint pain in just one joint, like your knee for example. As your knee joint takes the full weight of your body, it is probably the most frequently damaged.

Inflammation of the joint lining is another issue that can cause joint pain. If you have injured the joint recently, and it suddenly becomes painful again, the thin layer of tissue lining the joints and tendons may be inflamed.

Gout or pseudogout is another cause of joint pain (these are both types of arthritis). Gout usually affects your big toe first before affecting other joints, pseudogout usually affects your knee first.

What exactly is arthritis?

The NHS defines arthritis as “a common condition that causes pain and inflammation in a joint”. There are a number of types of arthritis, the two most common being rheumatoid arthritis (caused by the body’s immune system targeting affected joints causing pain and swelling) and osteoarthritis (the most common type, initially affecting the cartilage around a joint).2

How can joint pain affect my life | Arthritis | Flarin 

What are the symptoms of arthritis?

Because there are a number of types of arthritis, the symptoms will vary depending on the type. Speak to your GP if you have:

  • Joint pain, tenderness and stiffness
  • Inflammation in and around the joints
  • Restricted movement of the joints
  • Warm red skin over the affected joint
  • Weakness and muscle wasting

How might arthritis and joint pain affect your life?

Joint pain or mild arthritis may mean that you find everyday activities harder due to pain or inflammation. If you suffer from joint pain or mild arthritis it is important to know where you can get support and how you can make changes to your life to reduce the pain you experience and find ways to deal with it better.

How can joint pain affect my life | Arthritis | Flarin

What changes can you make to your life to live with joint pain or mild arthritis?

You can make changes throughout your home, garden and work life to make everyday life easier. Start by making small changes. For example, to avoid bending down too much, move sockets higher up, use a reaching stick, attach a basket to the back of your letter box. Making gripping things easier by swapping to pull cords rather than switches, invest in a contour grips and plug grips to make removing them easier. Versus Arthritis have a whole host of suggestions to make your home more accessible for yourself if you suffer from joint pain or arthritis. https://www.versusarthritis.org/about-arthritis/living-with-arthritis/your-home/

How can I ease my joint pain?

There are a number of ways to help ease your joint pain. These include;

  • Maintaining a healthy weight
    • Your weight has a big impact on your joints. Extra weight increases the pressure put on your joints, especially your knees, hips and feet. Reducing the amount of pressure on your joints can improve your mobility, decrease pain and prevent future damage
  • Increase your exercise
    • Continuing the amount of exercise you do, or starting to take part in exercise can help to keep your joints in good condition while strengthening your muscles
  • Use cold and hot therapy
    • Hot and cold treatments can help to make a difference when it comes to joint pain. Long, warm showers or baths can help to ease stiffness while cold treatments can help to relieve joint pain, swelling and inflammation
  • Use medication
    • Products containing ibuprofen will help to reduce inflammation and swelling

How can joint pain affect my life | Arthritis | Flarin

How to ease joint pain

Joint pain is a very common problem with many possible causes1. Pain in the knees, shoulders and hips is most common, but pain can occur in any of your joints from your ankles to your hands. Joint pain ranges in its severity. Some people suffer from crippling joint pain that restricts their daily life, while others suffer from joint pain flare-ups that last a couple of days.

No matter the type of joint pain you may suffer from, it’s important to know how you can deal with it. But first, let’s start from the beginning.

What is a joint?

A joint is where two or more bones meet, such as fingers, knees and shoulders. They provide support and help you move2.

How to ease joint pain | Flarin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[Image from https://www.versusarthritis.org/about-arthritis/conditions/arthritis/]

Why do my joints hurt?

Many different things can cause painful joints. Including arthritis, gout, sprains, strains and injury.

How can I ease my joint pain?

If you have been diagnosed with arthritis, you may have been prescribed anti-inflammatory medication and painkillers.

If you suffer from joint pain flare-ups or have suffered an injury to your joints and suffer from joint pain there are a number of ways to help ease your joint pain. These include;

  • Maintaining a healthy weight
    • Your weight has a big impact on your joints. Extra weight increases the pressure put on your joints, especially your knees, hips and feet. Reducing the amount of pressure on your joints can improve your mobility, decrease pain and prevent future damage
  • Increase your exercise
    • Continuing the amount of exercise you do, or starting to take part in exercise can help to keep your joints in good condition while strengthening your muscles
  • Use cold and hot therapy
    • Hot and cold treatments can help to make a difference when it comes to joint pain. Long, warm showers or baths can help to ease stiffness while cold treatments can help to relieve joint pain, swelling and inflammation
  • Use medication
    • Products containing ibuprofen can help to reduce inflammation and swelling

Which foods help relieve inflammation?

What is inflammation?
When your body recognises anything that is foreign within your body (invading microbes, plant pollen or chemicals) it becomes activated. This often triggers a process called inflammation.1
When there is a true threat to your health, intermittent bouts of inflammation will protect you. It is your body’s way of signalling the immune system to heal and repair damaged tissue, as well as defend itself against viruses and bacteria. Inflammation is a vital part of your immune system in its response to injury and infection2

It is when the inflammatory process goes on too long, or if it occurs when it is not needed that it can become problematic.

What is acute inflammation?
Acute inflammation is short term inflammation which occurs after an injury (cut knee, sprained ankle, sore throat etc).
It doesn’t last long and has localized effects, meaning that it works in the precise place where the problem is.
How do you know if it is acute inflammation? Some key signs include; redness, swelling, heat and sometimes pain.2

What is chronic inflammation?
Unlike acute inflammation, chronic inflammation can have long-term and whole-body effects. Low levels of inflammation can be triggered by a perceived internal threat, even when there isn’t a disease to fight or an injury to heal.

Which foods help relieve inflammation | Anti inflammatory foods | Flarin
How does diet affect inflammation?
Some foods contain properties which may work to reduce inflammation. Anti-inflammatory diets have become popular in recent years. Anti-inflammatory foods often contain omega-3 which can help to protect the body against the possible damage caused by inflammation.
So, what is an anti-inflammatory diet? Well, similar to a classic Mediterranean diet including eating more fish, fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, moderate amounts of nuts and very little red meat.
It also means staying away from foods that might promote inflammation including those high in saturated fats and trans fats such as red meats and dairy.

Olive oil – The cornerstone of every Mediterranean diet, olive oil is teeming with healthy fats and enzymes which can work to dampen the body’s inflammatory processes. Avocado and walnut oils are also loaded with healthy omega 3s.

Fish – Fish is a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which can ease joint stiffness. Add oily fish like salmon, tuna, sardines and anchovies to your weekly diet to tackle joint degeneration.

Nuts – Brimming with healthy monounsaturated fat, a handful of nuts each day can help fight against swelling and high cholesterol levels.

Berries – The anthocyanins found in cherries and other red and purple fruits such as strawberries, blackberries and blueberries are well known for their potential anti-inflammatory properties.

Leafy veg – Veggies rich in vitamin K, such as broccoli, spinach, lettuce, kale and cabbage have been known to radically reduce inflammatory markers in the blood.

Nightshades and citrus fruits – contrary to belief, there’s little evidence to suggest that these foods increase the likelihood of arthritis flares. Rather, they are a vital and low calorie source of immune-boosting vitamins, which help to neutralise unstable free radicals that can damage cartilage. Nightshades include aubergines, potatoes, peppers and tomatoes.

Meat and dairy – Though it’s important to focus on getting your protein and calcium from vegetables, beans and lentils, incorporating small amounts of meat and dairy into your weekly diet is not likely to cause any dramatic increase in inflammation levels.

Turmeric, Garlic and Ginger – The curcumin found in turmeric gives this spice its bright orange pigment and contains a natural supply of anti-inflammatory agents. Similarly, ginger and garlic have been used for centuries as pain reduction remedies for inflammatory conditions. Add these immune-boosting powerhouses to vegetable-rich soups and casseroles.

Role/implication of inflammation in joint pain

Inflammation can affect any part of the body and normally occurs when the immune system reacts against a potential threat. Understanding inflammation and its effects is an important part of managing joint pain.

What is inflammation?

Inflammation is a process where the body’s immune response works to protect us from stress, infection or injury. When the body senses a danger, our immune system seeks to destroy the virus, chemical or foreign body by activating proteins meant to protect cells and tissues. It does this by increasing blood flow to the affected area, increasing fluid production and producing chemicals of its own that should help the body to repair itself.

What are the implications?

When the immune cells in our body start to overreact beyond what is necessary to fight a perceived infection or danger, inflammation can work against us. This can result in damage to healthy body tissue, causing joint pain.

When inflammation affects the joints it’s likely to cause:

  • Unusual warmth and reddening over the affected joints due to increased blood flow
  • Excessive fluid production within the joint, causing swelling and stiffness
  • Irritation of nerve endings, leading to pain

What are the long term effects?

In autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammation can take place without any apparent trigger. Differing from non-inflammatory joint pain, the inflammation associated with conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis can also cause severe fatigue, energy loss and general ‘flu’ like symptoms such as headaches and fever.

Osteoarthritis is the most common joint problem. When the cartilage which covers the ends of the bones is damaged, (usually due to heavy use of the affected joint) pain and stiffness can occur. Though less is known about the role of inflammation in osteoarthritis, it is now recognised as a cause of flare-ups of pain in joints affected by the condition.

In either case, repeated episodes of inflammation in a joint can lead to the weakening of tendons, ligaments and muscles. The capsule surrounding the joint may become stretched by repeated swelling, affecting the stability of the joint. In the long term, this may cause tissue damage, joint deformation and pain.

 

Proudly supporting Arthritis Research UK.

Further info:

http://www.arthritisresearchuk.org/arthritis-information/conditions/arthritis/what-is-arthritis.aspx – for more about inflammatory forms of arthritis

http://www.arthritisresearchuk.org/health-professionals-and-students/reports/topical-reviews/topical-reviews-autumn-2011.aspx – for more about inflammation in osteoarthritis

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3638313/ – inflammation in osteoarthritis