What is arthritis and how does it effect our joints? The origin of the word is latin: arthro meaning joint or articulation and itis means inflammation. Sort of a contradiction at times because many kinds of arthritis, including osteoarthritis the most commonly occurring kind is usually not inflammatory. Rheumatoid arthritis is inflammatory at least some of the time.
Many types of arthritis actually begin in the body of the muscle. Due to injury, age and inactivity (usually a combination of all three) the body of the muscle, or the meaty middle part of the muscle will begin to shorten and become stiff. As the muscle bodies shorten, more pull is placed on the muscle attachments that insert near joints causing increased pressure on the joint surfaces, even when the muscle is in a state of rest. Over time, this increased pressure within the joint itself causes joint surfaces to wear thin and eventually leaves bone rubbing on bone. Ouch! Of course there are other factors that come into play but this is almost always the case in beginning.
Another significant problem in joint health is oxygen deficiency. Oxygen deficiency can and does create problems within the joints.The connective tissue or joint tissue does not receive oxygen as readily as other kinds of tissues. Therefore, sedentary lifestyles and smoking are very damaging to the joints. Other habits that add to this picture are poor diet, weight that is above the average and chronic repetitive use.
The bad news is we can't stop the aging process but the good news is there are many things we can do to protect our joints and keep them healthy.
We must learn that joint health must start before severe damage has occurred.
Exercise regularly but make sure that at least some of your program is low impact.
Quality sleep is a must. Muscles need stage four sleep for complete regeneration and restoration.
A diet high in grains, fruits, and vegetables with smaller portions of meat and a clean source of water will give the joints the nutrients they need to stay healthy.
Therapeutic massage has actually been proven to help lengthen shortened muscle bodies relieving pressure within the joint allowing for some regeneration of inflamed surfaces. It also relieves associated muscle spasms bringing much needed pain relief and a better nights rest.
Use your body throughout the day as efficiently as you can. Keep your center of gravity low, stand or sit up straight and don't twist your body. This allows your bony structure to support the weight correctly and relieves the joints of any undue strain.
Americans are living longer lives. Why not start now taking care of your body and your joints and enjoy a long life that is lived to its fullest!
Stay tuned next week more on arthritis with an in-depth look at how diet and hormones play their part in the health of our joints.
Till next time, Rebecca.