Expert Offers Tips On Coping With Arthritis

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More than 70 million Americans suffer one of the many forms of arthritis.

Typically, the painful malady affects the large joints, but it can strike in any bone joint — from the hinge that lets the jaw move to the non-moving “sutures” of the skull.

Jennifer Dumbolton, DO, with Main Street Healthcare, spoke about arthritis to a full house in the large community room at the Payson Regional Medical Center’s Senior Circle Nov. 7.

She said the most common forms of the disease are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, spinal arthritis, lupus, gout, scleroderma and juvenile arthritis.

“Each has their own symptoms, patterns and treatment,” Dumbolton said. However, in many cases, the first signs are problems with skin, hair and nails. More commonly known symptoms are pain and swelling.

There are a variety of causes and contributions, she said. Among these are: age, sex, genetics, Wilson’s disease, obesity, trauma, deformity of joint, nutrition, diabetes and hypothyroid disease.

Dumbolton reviewed what an individual might expect when she visits with her doctor about arthritis. The questions likely to be asked: are the joints stiff in the morning; what is the duration of morning stiffness; does the stiffness improve during the day; is there joint swelling in conjunction with pain; what makes it better/worse; how long have you had joint pain; what is the pattern of pain/swelling; is the pain in the joint or diffused and located around the joint. She said if the pain continues and worsens through the day that is an indicator of rheumatoid arthritis. Additionally, the individual should expect to have a general physical exam, a musculoskeletal exam, and to give family, personal and social histories.

Dumbolton discussed steps/treatment people can take to improve their quality of life to mitigate the impact of arthritis.

• Nutrition: eat smaller portions; incorporate whole grains, vegetables, fruits, low fat meats, fish and poultry into the diet; and avoid alcohol

• Exercise to lessen pain: increase in movement helps and decreases fatigue; try low impact activity such as tai chi, swimming and water aerobics, alternate periods of rest with activity, use hot/cold compress to help prepare for activity

• Lose weight

• Know your limits regarding activity and avoid triggering actions; lessen joint stress

• Practice relaxation and biofeedback

• Use brace(s) if necessary

The next level of treatment would be medications such as cortisone, analgesics, Celebrex, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs); and then there is “treatment” with joint replacement surgery.

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