Tips on Dealing with Arthritis
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When we were kids, arthritis seemed a million years away. It was an old person's disease. Maybe not as funny (at the time) as hemorrhoids or back hair, but still, an affliction not to be worried about for a while.
But then we got older. Nowadays, those knees just don't seem to work as well as they did in high school. Maybe that tennis elbow has turned into something more chronic. What happened? You're not old yet!
Well, no, you're not, but that doesn't matter. Arthritis may be more prevalent in the elderly, but one in three American adults suffers from some form of the disease, and that includes spring chickens like you.
Arthritis comes from the Greek word arthron, which means "joint," and the Greek suffix -itis, which means "swelling." It's not actually an affliction but a general term for a group of over 100 diseases associated with joint swelling, stiffness, and pain.
One of the better-known types of arthritis is osteoarthritis, in which the protective pads at the ends of the bones, called cartilage, wear away, so that the bones rub against each other. Another common form is rheumatoid arthritis, in which the immune system accidentally wages war against your joint lining, causing swelling. Then there's gout, in which an excess of uric acid causes small, sharp crystals to form on the joint, causing intense pain.
There are scores of treatments and medications for these diseases, and it's best to get a doctor and a physical therapist involved if you think you have a serious problem. However, there's plenty you can do now to prevent arthritis from setting in, or to keep that annoying elbow injury from blossoming into full-tilt, debilitating arthritis later in life.
A final important aspect of exercise for the arthritis sufferer is that it makes you feel good. As I said, most of us think of this as an old person's diseaseand no one wants to get old. By lifting those weights or going for those walks, we're keeping ourselves young and keeping our bodies useful. So if you think it might be happening to you, take it head-on and get yourself healthy. See a doctor, start eating right, and get up out of that La-Z-Boy! It won't be as easy to fix as that back hair, but it'll be far more rewarding.