Finding out more about arthritis on World Arthritis Day

Clue yourself up with some arthritis information on this World Arthritis Day. Photo: CC Search

As the world raises awareness around arthritis on World Arthritis Day (12 October) the Arthritis Foundation of South Africa answered a few questions about the disease that affects millions of people worldwide.
What is arthritis?

Arthritis is commonly described as inflammation (swelling and heating) of the joints. It is important to note that arthritis is not a single disease as it has become the informal way of referring to joint pain or joint disease.

What’s rheumatoid arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an inflammatory disease mainly affecting joints and tendons. Early stages symptoms of RA are redness or swelling of joints, joint pain, tenderness, swelling or stiffness for six weeks or longer, morning stiffness for 30 minutes or longer, more than one joint is affected, small joints such as your wrists, certain joints of the hands and feet are affected and the same joints on both sides of the body are affected.

From what age can one get arthritis?
Anyone of any age can be diagnosed with arthritis. Even children get arthritis and it is known as Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA). This is the most common type of arthritis in children.

What are the symptoms of arthritis?
There are so many different types of arthritis that can cause different symptoms. The most common symptoms are severe joint pain, discomfort, stiffness of the joints, fatigue and a general feeling of not being well.

As someone with arthritis, are there any precautions I need to take before I exercise?
During flare-ups, when patients are in pain and feel sick, the joints should be rested. For some types of arthritis pounding on the joints – when you are running – is not advisable. New research shows that exercise is a vital part of arthritis management and that any type of exercise is good.

Can I prevent arthritis?
Not really. It is a chronic disease that needs to be managed. One can try to reduce the risk and delay the potential onset of certain types of arthritis by maintaining mobility and function and avoid the pain but there is no foolproof way to prevent it.

Are there foods that ease arthritis?
Yes, there are. We generally recommend a Mediterranean diet and oily foods as they can lubricate the joints. This would include food such as tuna, pilchards, anchovies, fresh fruit and vegetables. One should also replace butter with healthy fats such as olive and canola oil.

Are there any home remedies that can help?
There are home remedies but people react differently to different types of remedies. A person would have to figure out what works for them and what does not.

For more information on arthritis, go to the Arthritis Foundation of South Africa,
or contact them at 011 485 0199/0448.

Andile Dlodlo

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