My mother is a long-term sufferer of joints disease. She often has erratic pains in her legs and lower bones, due to which she walks with difficulty.
When I was young, I used to see her visiting orthopedic doctors time and again for her knee osteoarthritis. He prescribed her a number of medicines, especially the expensive once-a-month capsule and Vitamin D ampoules.
She started to perform her salah on a chair and avoided sitting on the ground for long hours. She kept telling us to have a calcium-rich diet and exercise daily. I have seen her cope with her knee and back pain constantly and it has made me more interested in learning about her disease.
Arthritis is a combination of diseases usually affecting the joints and support system of the body. Osteoarthritis is the commonest type, affecting the joints of knee, hips and spine, leading to painful activity.
Following are several ways to help the patients with arthritis that they may have less pain, great mobility and a fulfilling life.
Whenever the orthopedic doctor advised exercise to my mother, her typical response to him was something like “how can I exercise? My knee hurts when I simply walk!”
This is a common misconception amongst patients. As we all know, exercise builds up stamina, cardiovascular fitness and enhances mood. It has miraculous effects on the joints as well, if done in a proper way. It enhances joint flexibility, decreases stiffness and swelling. It is vital for circulation within the joint which promotes healing and helps tone up the muscle support system of the knee. So contrary to popular belief, exercising would in fact make you feel better. You just need to have the willpower to workout.
Maintaining an ideal weight is important for arthritis patients. Extra weight can put more stress on the joints (where one pound of weight put an additional four pounds of pressure on knees).
Aerobic exercises like walking, riding bikes, gardening and raking leaves are all low-impact activities and they help to maintain good bone health. Do invest in buying a good pair of workout shoes; it’ll benefit in the long run. Doing short household chores also helps to stay active.
Change in weather usually worsens the symptoms of arthritis, causing stiffness and pain in the joints. This can be overcome by applying hot packs or heating pads. Taking a warm bath before sleep also helps in relieving the pain and decreases swelling.
Massaging the affected joint with a light hand in the morning and at bedtime with olive/eucalyptus oil is a ritual performed daily by most patients and it is found to be beneficial in the long run.
Vitamin D provides the building blocks; that is, calcium for strengthening bones. As told, my mother had also been advised Vitamin D.
Women in our part of the country are faced with vitamin D deficiency irrespective of the ample sunlight available here (which is the richest source of the vitamin). Why? Because they are often not allowed to go out in the sunlight and hence their bodies are not as exposed to it as they should be.
Maintaining good hydration levels in your body is mandatory for joint mobility. Drinking plenty of fluids before and after exercise, eating a lot of fresh fruits especially cherries and citrus fruits helps a lot in terms of joint mobility.
All in all, arthritis is a progressive debilitating disease usually controlled by the right approach in view of medications and lifestyle. Consult your physiotherapist and orthopedic doctor before tracking on a new exercise program. Remember the old saying “if you rest, you get rusted”.
Daily adequate physical activity helps in maintaining the joints flexibility and also strengthens the muscle support system of the body leading to healthy joints and bones. That is the key to staying fit.
Stay healthy and stay aware.
About the author: Myda Tahir is a medical professional graduated from DMC, who is now doing her Post Graduation from CPSP. She is a passionate writer with a special interest in health, education and creativity.