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More Americans Experiencing the Debilitating Effects of Arthritis

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Over 50 million Americans live with the painful and sometimes life-changing effects of arthritis. That number has remained constant over the past few years. According to a new report from the CDC, what has changed is the number of people reporting that their arthritis is limiting their daily activities. Of those diagnosed with the disease, the number who report trouble with daily activities rose from 8.5 to 9.4 percent over the past 4 years. But why?

We all have aches and pains from time to time, but can you imagine experiencing pain from simple tasks like buttoning your shirt or brushing your hair? Things like getting dressed or climbing up the stairs might sound easy, but for many people with arthritis those are painful daily tasks. Experts say this could be the result of a few things: one is that more baby boomers are coming to an age where arthritis becomes more common, and a high rate of baby boomers is overweight and obese. "The percentage of people who were hobbled was more than twice as high in obese people as those who were normal weight or were underweight, the CDC researchers found." Being overweight or obese puts extra pressure on joints and bones, so it’s not surprising that those with weight issues and arthritis experience more pain and problems than those of a normal weight.

The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis, a condition that occurs when the cartilage of a joint breaks down. Bones begin to rub against each other, causing pain and difficulty moving the joint. Exercise reduces joint pain and stiffness and increases flexibility, muscle strength, cardiac fitness, and endurance. It also helps with weight reduction and contributes to an improved sense of well-being. So maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly can be key to reducing the daily effects of arthritis.

Are you someone who suffers from arthritis? SparkPeople’s Osteoarthritis Condition Center has information about how diet and exercise can improve your quality of life and limit the effects of the disease.

What do you think? If you have arthritis, what has helped you?

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So many sites on osteoarthritis talk about limiting activity, but I find I have to do some activity to help the stiffiness, but walking too far or too hard of strength especially lunges sends me into swelling for days. Motrin is a wonderful medicine for me. Report
I have arthritis and I can relate to all these people. It hurts! Right now I am experiencing the worst flare up I have ever had. I have been dealing with it most of my life, starting when I was 22, pregnant for my first child. I have been working at losing weight for the last three years, a total of about 44 date, I had a complete left knee replacement and two cortozone shots in my right shoulder, plus many months of therapy on that shoulder for frozen shoulder. The pain was so much less that I was really enjoying life again. In the last few weeks my shoulder pain, now in both shoulders has returned with a vengence. The only medication I take is extra strength tylenal when I have too, but not all the time, I am on too many medications for other things. The last time I was in to see my doctor, he said it might be rotator cup problems and told me to exercise the right shoulder, see if it improved, if not come back, well I will be going back but now for both shoulders! I also have it in my feet, hands and now my elbows. Life isn't easy but we have to keep moving. Staying still is not the answer. And yes, I have a friend who is very thin and has it worse then any one I know.
I have osteoarthritis in my hands, hips, knees and feet. I take a dose of glucosamine-chondroitin in the morning and I feel the difference when I don't take it. I try and exercise 5-7 days a week even if it's just stretching. My arthritis in my hands are getting worse so I may go see a doctor for advise. I try and use my hands as much as possible and do finger exercises when I can. Report
thank you for the information Report
Whenever I eat a brownie or homemade chocolate chip cookies or store-bought rich desserts, I have sharp arthritis pain in my left thumb. It seems like the flour/sugar/butter combination is what aggravates it. I know not to eat those foods, unless I am prepared to have a little pain along with them. Report
I have arthritis in my fingers. I do not believe that it could be caused by being overweight. Mine is a result of either my occupation or possibly inherited. Report
I have arthritis in my hips and right knee. It is a bit of a drag I can't run anymore. But, I have figured that since I am pretty active, I will find other activities that doesn't stresses these areas. I have also realized that if I had had the extra weight on, I would be beyond miserable. Now, the arthritis is more of a minor annoyance. Report
I suffer terribly with osteoarthritis. I had my left hip replaced in 1994, and was good for a long time. Now I have it in my two knees and two shoulders. I also have a ripped rotator cuff, in my left shoulder. I'm having some kind of flare-up right now. the Dr. has me on 4 tylenol 3, for two weeks, and then he'll see. I hate the tylenol 3, and can't wait to come off of it. Even though the pain is bad, the pills make me tired and upset my stomach. I'm counting the days. I do go to the pool everyday, for water aerobics in the deep end, I get cortisone, and occasionally do some yoga. For sure you have to keep moving. I pray for you all, I know how you suffer. I am overweight, but not by much. take care. Report
I have bad arthritis in my right hip, which sometimes makes even walking very painful. What has helped is cutting down on sugar, taking krill oil, which is even better as an anti-inflammatory than fish oil, 4000 IU of Vitamin D every day, and an anti-inflammatory drink called Ninxia Red (one ounce per day). I also rub certain essential oils on the painful joint - frankincense, copaiba, peppermint. Overall, the pain has decreased significantly. I only use Aleve for pain occasionally. I also try to walk as much as I can, and am working on losing excess weight. Report
Yoga has helped some general stiffness I've been experiencing. It seems that the more flexible my body is, the fewer aches and pains I get. At least, that's the way it feels some days. Other days I too need some ice packs. Report
The number 2 cause of death from cancer, after all forms of pollution/contaminants -- to food supply, environment, water, etc. -- is age...we're living longer! We're thus generally more succeptible to all forms of debilitating and fatal illness/disease than our ancestors.

Life style considerations such as a whole (non-processed) foods diet, moderate weight, sufficient sleep, consistent exercise, yoga and other stress reducers like meditation and loving self-care, are essential to staving off the debilitating effects of arthritis. Dr. Andrew Weil has an anti-inflamatory diet that I would suggest checking out. Report
Did not find any answers in this article to the causes of increase in arthritis, except for weight gain. I have friends who are skinner than I am by 50 - 60 pounds, and have arthritis much worse than I do. There must be some other reasons. Report
Eating a gluten free diet and also an anti-inflamatory diet has helped me greatly! If I eat gluten, my joints let me know right away. Report
Keeping my weight down and exercising helps with my arthritis. I find that practicing yoga on a regular basis definitely helps. I think taking glucosamine sulfate and fish oils has also helped me. Report
I know that losing weight certainly has helped me not to feel arthritis stiffness in the morning. Report
I've had severe flares of both osteo- and inflammatory arthritis for many years. Extreme stress, sedentary life style, lack of sleep, poor diet, and increasing weight all had ill effects. Physical therapy, traction, heat, strength building, stretching, weight loss, and rest all have had excellent outcome. I think glucosamine sulfate helps reduce/eliminate the sharp, stabbing joint pains. A good diet, with plenty of vitamin D and other vitamins and minerals, is absolutely important. Supplement this if you need to. A positive outlook is always a plus! Report
Arthritis is a pain!! It makes my joints hurt and get big., Report
I don't have arthritis pain now like I did at one time. Not sure what one thing has helped. I DO take Elations everyday, I take 4,000 units of Vitamin D, and hylauronic acid. Report
I was told a few years ago that I had some arthritis in my lower back. Also, in my ankle, knee and wrist. I try not to let it bother me, but after a hard workout, either running or lifting heavy, I can feel it. Yoga has helped me somwehat, and I try not to take any medications if I can help it. The strongest meds I take are tylenol or motrin :) Report
I have arthritis too and I have it in my knees and my hips. But I don't let that stop me. When I go for my morning run I wear a knee wrap on my left knee where I have issues. It helps. I have had to have a cordozone shot in my knee. I have read that working out is good for arthritis. So I am goin to keep doing it as long as I can. Report
I was told several years ago that I had arthritis starting in my knees and that arthritis can be from the overuse of the joint, injury of the joint -- or what really surprised me was underuse of the joint. I looked at my life style and realized that I had become very sedimentary, sitting behind a desk all day. I started moving, over the last two years I have steady increased my movement and I now I rarely suffer from knee pain - and my lastest x-rays show an improvement in my knees. I was really surprised. Keep moving. Report
I have it in one of my knees and hand. I just keep going and if the pain is too bad take an anti-inflamatory (or 2 on really bad days). My knee is now bone-on-bone and an injection call Synvisc-one has helped but it is very expensive so only get once a year.

I do a lot of computer work and knitting so can expect my fingers to hurt but just keep going as I don't want it to get worse with lack of use like a friend of mine.

Best for me is to just keep on keepin' on and not let it stop me (just like I don't let my asthma get in the way of anything). Report
I have arthritis in my hands, feet, knees, back, and neck. I was in so much that I have lost a little more than 20 pounds and started exercising my pain has become minimal! Report
Ice to reduce inflammation in a joint, heat to reduce spasm in a muscle, a rheumatologist who understands what medication to prescribe, various gels and lotions (see what works best for you with trial and error method) found in the homeopathic section of a store like Whole Foods, a warm therapy pool for specific water exercise as recommended by a physical therapist, supportive footwear or orthotics if necessary, good nutrition, elimination of sugar from diet, sufficient sleep, and most important of all Keep Moving to prevent from stiffening up. Also, find the joy in each day, because it IS there, don't be grumpy because no one will want to be around you, and isolation is no fun, you need people to laugh with! :-) Report
A product called Inflamagic has helped me. Report
I am in the same exact place as Susan727.... Report
I have Rheumatoid Arthritis too. I was diagnosed when I was 33 and I will be 37 in a few days. I have had and expect to have multiple surgeries and at least one joint replacement. I have pain every day, usually minor and sometimes moderate. Especially when I am active. But know what? I do it anyway and aim for 6 times a week. The fact is that the less weight you put on your weight bearing joints the less strain on them, the more you move them the better lubricated they are and you feel better because of the endorphins created during work outs. Activity promotes weight loss and health for the whole body. Report
I have arthritis in my lower back (as does one of my brothers) - this is due to both of us having an extra vertebra.

I find stretching before getting out of bed, exercise, and wisdom when lifting are the three best ways of keeping the arthritis pain away. Plus chiropractic visits every two weeks. Report
arthritis runs in our family, it doesn't matter if your over weight or not. Most of us get it in hands and knees Report
In August I went to the doctor for knee pain and was diagnosed as having the beings of arthritis in my knee. I do, however, take part in regular exercise and have lost about 12 pounds and it does seem to lessen the amount of pain. Some days I feel totally pain free. Report
I have osteoarthritis and had two total knee replacements when the pain got so severe I needed a cane to take more than three steps. I can move (walk, bike, swim, hike) now but still experience aches in all my joints. The more I exercise, the less the ache - hurts worse on days I just can't fit in my cardio. Report
I do have arthritis and doing daily exercises, walking,and maintaining my heathy weight helps me for sure! Report
I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis just after my 30th birthday. It is a painful and debilitating disease that can affect anyone, at any age (even infants). So even though I understand most people's perception of arthritis is that it is an "older person's disease", it can strike at any time. There really isn't anything to prevent RA or OA from happening, but it is important not to use arthritis as an excuse to give up daily activities. It took me almost a year to regain my mobility, and I'm lucky not to be affected on a daily basis thanks in part to a drug regime that keeps my RA in check. Report
I believe I'm beginning to be affected by it and I was surprised to hear the doctors say that a person should keep moving when they have pain. So I guess exercise is the key to maintaining an active life. Report
I have arthritis in my hips. I am a long distance walker. Thus far it isn't disabling but I have noticed if I don't continue to walk on a regular the pain is worse and I can't go as long of distances. I take my anti-inflams before I go on long distances and I hope that by regular exercise I can put off the disabling effects that arthritis can have. Report