September is Arthritis Month
Over 4.6 million Canadians are affected by some type of arthritis. The term arthritis is derived from the Greek words meaning “joint inflammation”. Over 100 conditions are associated with arthritis, ranging in intensity from temporarily mild to permanently debilitating. Arthritis may affect older individuals as well as infants, and is considered a major cause of disability in Canada. The two most common types are Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is caused by wear and tear on joints over the years. For example, although jogging is good for your heart in the long term, it may cause your knee joints to wear out. With OA, only one or two joints may be affected, and these tend not to be paired (i.e. one thumb, one knee, one big toe). Pain worsens through the day as the joint is used and resting the joint often provides relief. In osteoarthritis, pain relievers are the main treatment.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an inflammatory disease of the joints. Joints on both sides of the body are usually affected. Sometimes the joints are warm and soft to touch. There is a decreased range of movement and some people also experience fever, fatigue, or tingling in the fingers. RA can also affect other areas of the body, producing inflammation in tissues such as the skin, eyes and lungs. Two types of medicines are used to treat rheumatoid arthritis: those that reduce pain and inflammation, and medicines designed to slow the progression of the disease.
Tips for living with arthritis:
- Ask for easy open, wide bottles for your prescriptions. These are easier to hold and use.
- Let your pharmacist know if you have concerns about medication side effects or effectiveness.
- Warm-up and cool-down before and after exercising.
- Wear proper shoes and use canes or walkers if required to relieve some of the strain.
- Maintain a healthy weight to put less stress on your joints.
- Heat therapy can relax aching muscles and increase circulation. Some people even heat their clothes in the dryer before putting them on!
- Cold therapy helps reduce inflammation and pain.
- The Arthritis Society of Canada website at www.arthritis.ca is a great source of patient information and support.
Speak to your Carmi Remedy’s Rx pharmacist in Penticton for information about arthritis medications or for a comprehensive review of your current medications.
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