The great adage “Old age doesn’t come alone” is often quoted with reference to this disease and yes there is some truth in the statement. Arthritis can indeed be a horrible, painful and debilitating condition. However, it doesn’t mean we have to give up or give in. There is so much confusing and conflicting information wafted around.
This blog is ready to shake the facts up a little, turn the myths on their heads and look at this with a different perspective.
Look ahead my friends, look beyond where you are now. There is always a stone left to turn.
There are over 100 different types of arthritis which can affect joints and muscles causing pain and inflammation. The two most common ones are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis damages the cartilage which lines the joint. This can lead to joint surfaces being roughened which makes movement awkward and painful. Greater strain is then placed upon the tendons and ligaments which may cause the formation of bony spurs, called osteophytes. All very horrible.
Rheumatoid arthritis however, is a different ball game all together. It occurs when the body’s immune system attacks certain joints which leads to pain and swelling. People with rheumatoid arthritis can also develop problems with other tissues and organs in their body resulting in them feeling generally unwell as well suffering from painful joints.
The emphasis in this blog is around osteoarthritis.
Yes it’s horrible and yes it’s enough to make the best of us feel more than a little down in the dumps. But hear this, it will only get a whole lot more horrible if you choose to pack your ‘I can do nothing about this’ bag and shove it where it shouldn’t be shoved.
Let’s look at the facts.
The knock on effect of the pain and the way it makes us move is muscles weakening and tightening. The knock on effect of this weakening and tightening is the joints are left more vulnerable having lost the scaffold effect from the muscles that would normally offer them protection.
It’s a vicious circle. Arthritis causes pain which alters how we move so our muscles weaken and tighten so our joints are made more vulnerable generating more pain so we move more awkwardly so our muscles weaken and tighten so we move more awkwardly and so on and so on.
STOP!!!!!!!!!!!! I can’t shout this loudly enough, I really can’t:
Stop allowing your muscles to weaken
Stop encouraging your muscles to tighten up
Stop ignoring the pain and gritting your teeth through an activity or
Stop giving into the pain and using it as an excuse to give up
Stop thinking your pain is worse than anyone else and that is the reason you give yourself for giving in.
Stop! Stop right now. Breath and look to tomorrow.
START….AND I CAN’T SHOUT THIS LOUDLY ENOUGH, I REALLY CAN’T:
Start by keeping your expectations realistic with respect to your lifestyle and the stage of your arthritis if it has already turn up. We are all different and therefore don’t compare your ability or your path of improvement with anyone else. Even if you have been doing all the exercises but you still feel you are no better, that is in fact progress not failure. If you had done nothing I can guarantee that things would only have got worse.
Look at previous blogs where your bodily parts that are under fire have already been touched on. Stretch out gently, strengthen up quietly if you are in pain. If you’re not in pain stretch out and strengthen up pacing yourself so you feel your muscles working but not your joints groaning.
Get up, straighten to your full height (when did you last do that?) stretch out, little and often throughout the day, everyday. All you desk sitters or bridge players or TV watchers or drivers or repeatedly standing in one position people, heed my words.
Go for a walk (however slow or short if you’re hurting) even if it’s round the block or down the road and back. If you have simply got out of the habit of striding out on a regular basis then get back into the habit. If you don’t, when you come to wanting to one day, that arthritis invitation might just take you up on your offer. Just do it.
If you still can, get down onto the floor even if you have to use a chair to get back up again. If you can’t remember the last time your did this, stop reading IMMEDIATELY and lower yourself to the ground.
While you are there, side sit to the left and then to the right, even if you have to lean far over to one side to accommodate the discomfort or pain in your back hips or groins. Breathe.
Follow this path. It might be bumpy at times but the end point might surprise you.
TO THOSE OF YOU WHO ARE NOW THINKING YOU’RE OK BECAUSE YOU ALREADY DO ALL THIS, READ ON:
Even if you think you are really active or you walk a lot, cycle regularly, and the active pursuit of gardening is your passion it doesn’t mean that your body is equally balanced left to right, that you move efficiently without cheating or that your joints haven’t given you warning signs that all is not well which you choose to ignore. It’s your unique walking, standing and sitting style that allows people to recognise you from afar that creates the silent wear and tear on your body.
Look lively my friends, work at your own pace but pace you must however outwardly unimpressive it may seem. Start now and both you and I will know that you are on the way to discouraging the most unwelcome of guests just turning up.