My aunt Carol knew when it was going to rain. She could feel it in her joints. I didn’t acquire that forecasting ability, my joints seemed to only foreshadow an imminent flu. But over the last decade, I’ve noticed that noticing the pain in my joints has grown more frequent. The shoulder I broke, the vertebrae I’ve twisted, and the knees that withstood thousands of miles of running are now greeting me with a dull ache as I start my day.
While injury and recurring stress contribute to much of my joint woes, arthritis and rheumatism are generally believed to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Some people are more susceptible to these diseases, and it may take something in your environment to get it started. Even certain viruses and bacterial infections can trigger the disease.
Arthritis literally means “joint inflammation” and involves the breakdown of cartilage – which normally protects a joint and makes it operate smoothly.
Rheumatism is a colloquial term to describe general joint disorders and may include other elements of the musculoskeletal system.
There are over 100 different types of arthritis. They include – fibromyalgia, bursitis, tendinitis, and gout. Osteoarthritis is the most common type. Rheumatoid arthritis is one of the most disabling.
The symptoms associated arthritis and rheumatic diseases include joint pain, swelling, stiffness, and limited movement. Some rheumatic diseases such as lupis and scleroderma can affect organs – liver, heart, lungs brain and skin.
Rheumatic diseases affect people of all races and ages.
- Rheumatoid arthritis occurs two to three times more often in women than in men.
- Scleroderma is more common in women than in men.
- Between 80 and 90 percent of those diagnosed with fibromyalgia are women.
- Gout is more common in men than in women. After menopause, the incidence of gout for women begins to rise.
Treatment will vary. The goal of treatment is to reduce pain, improve function, and prevent further joint damage.
Lifestyle changes such as exercise programs and physical therapy may be recommended, which may also include eating certain foods high in omega-3 fatty acids and losing weight. Getting more sleep can help repair and prevent future flare ups.
Medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAID’s – acetaminophen and aspirin) are generally recommended first, with prescription medications available if those don’t work.
In some cases, surgery may be needed to repair or replace a joint.
A few arthritic conditions can be cured with treatment, however most are long term chronic conditions.
Apple and Avocado Smoothie
- 1 small avocado
- 1/2 C organic apple juice
- 1 Red Delicious apple
- 1 Tbsp Calcium
- 1 C plain yogurt or kefir
- 2-3 ice cubes
Cut the avocados in half and remove the pit and cut the flesh. Cut the apple into little chunks (skin still left on). Put the apple juice in a blender, add the avocado, apple chunks, and ice cubes. Process until smooth. Serve and enjoy!