Rheumatic Disease Specialist Ponchatoula LA
Baton Rouge, LA
Baton Rouge, LA
New Orleans, LA
New Orleans, LA
By Jennifer Lang
Every morning, Angie steps onto her yoga mat and struggles to push herself into Downward-Facing Dog. Three breaths later—on a good day—she comes down and rests in Child’s Pose, rolling her wrists and flexing her fingers. Angie, at 32 years old, has osteoarthritis in her hands and her hips. But in spite of the pain, she says yoga actually makes her feel better.
Arthritis. The very word conjures up images of Grandma’s gnarled knuckles and stiff fingers. Serious joint pain reserved for little old ladies and retired professional athletes. But osteoarthritis (OA) can appear at any age. Genetics definitely play a role (they did for Angie), but if you have a history of being overweight, inactive, overactive, or injury prone, your odds increase dramatically. In fact, Patience H. White, MD, chief public health officer for the Arthritis Foundation in Washington, DC, believes arthritis will begin to affect a much younger generation in the coming years. “As much as 65 percent of the population is already overweight or obese—a big risk factor,” she says. “Every pound you gain is like four extra pounds bearing down on your knees.” If you lose 10 to 15 pounds, according to White, the pain of OA can be reduced by 50 percent. Sure, losing weight is hard, but if shedding a few pounds can help alleviate the pain without the side effects of painkillers, why not give it a try? “Plus, achieving a healthy weight can help prevent the progression of the disease,” says White.
The truth about OA
Osteoarthritis, classified as a rheumatic disease, joins more than 100 other conditions under the umbrella term arthritis, and they all affect the joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage. The two other common forms include rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease associated with inflammation, and gout, which stems from metabolic abnormalities. Researchers used to describe OA as a wear-and-tear condition in which the cartilage around the joint begins to break down from mechanical stress. But, says White, “we now know that low-grade inflammation accompanies the wearing away of the cartilage, which is further hastened by risk factors like weight and lifestyle.”
What does this mean exactly? When you have arthritis, the cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones has deteriorated and lost elasticity. Because cartilage doesn’t have its own blood supply, it feeds off the joints’ natural lubricant, called synovial fluid, which carries nutrients and waste into and out of the area. The more the joints move, the more fluid flows through them, making movement easier; the less the joints move for whatever reason (age, inactivity, or injury), the less fluid flows and the more the cartilage deteriorates, causing the bones to rub against one another, says White. The end result can be stiffness, pain, loss of joint mobility, and eventual disability.
When you feel tired and achy, working out is probably not high on your to-do list, but ...
Author: Jennifer Lang
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