The following was sent by a regular reader of the site. Her name is Anita and she is from Oklahoma, US. She wants to share how she has coped with arthritis – a condition she has suffered since childhood – in the hope of helping others.
First, let me tell you, you can live an active life style even with arthritis.
I was diagnosed with arthritis as a child. In 1st grade, I would walk home from school in the winter months and my knees would be swollen and red. My mother would rub my legs, use warm compresses, and minute-rub to help with the pain. Minute-rub was a cream that seemed to help more than the other ones on the market. Upon visiting the doctor, he explained I had arthritis in both of my knees. At this time, the doctor never suggested any thing different than what my mother was doing to help with pain and swelling. He did say that in most cases, that in children the arthritis usually goes away after a certain age.
My knees would hurt more in the winter months when it was cold outside, but even in the summer months if I was active. I never really enjoyed going outside and being active as my knees would hurt.
Finally, around age 12, the pain disappeared and I finally learned how to ride a bike. I never thought I would have problems with arthritis again, even though I had other family members with various forms of arthritis, as a child I was just glad to be out and having fun with friends.
When I turned 21, I had another flare up, but this time it was in my hands and fingers. I visited the physician and learned it was arthritis. I was diagnosed with arthritis in my hands, wrists, fingers, knees, and ankles. The only thing I used for pain was Tylenol and the only cream I could find on the market was Ben-gay.
The arthritis I experience does not occur every day, but I do have flare-ups especially on days when it is going to rain. I have learned that changing my diet and exercise are the best ways to combat the inflammation and pain.
When I first wake up in the morning, no matter the weather, my fingers are swollen. This could be due to being a freelance writer and using my hands and fingers more than I use to in other employment.
However, once I am up and work my fingers, the swelling subsides and I can go about my day.
I was also diagnosed with fibromyalgia a few years back, which also causes pain. My physician prescribed pain medication known as Mobic for the pain and muscle relaxers. This medication does help with the
pain not only for fibromyalgia but also arthritis. On the other hand, I rarely use the medication only on days that the pain is extreme. I do not like taking medications at all, not even Advil, but I would prefer an over the counter painkiller than a prescription. The best over the counter medications for me have been Advil gel caps and Aleve.
The most important thing I have done to cope with arthritis is to learn the foods that trigger inflammation, which is the main cause of pain and swelling, as well as foods that fight against inflammation.
To help with arthritis, I ensure I am eating foods that fight inflammation. Omega-3 fish oils and olive oil both are great helpers. Other sources that are great that will help with inflammation include:
Vitamin C which can be found in strawberries, pineapple, guava, sweet peppers, kidney beans, kiwi, red cabbage, mangos, oranges, grapefruit, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, white potato, kohlrabi, papayas, lemons, broccoli, kale, mustard greens, and cantaloupe.
Selenium which can be found in tuna, crab, oysters, brazil nuts, whole wheat pasta, cod, lean beef, whole grains, shrimp, wheat germ, and turkey.
Beta carotene which is found in carrots, sweet potato, butternut, kale, turnip greens, squash, cantaloupe, mustard greens, pumpkin, apricots, spinach, and red pepper.
Beta cryptoxanthin, which is found in persimmons, tangerines, papaya, corn, oranges, apricots, winter squash, and red peppers.
Anthocyanidins are very important and can be found in foods like blueberries, eggplant, blackberries, black currants, red grapes, black grapes, plums, strawberries, cherries, elderberries, raspberries, boysenberries, and plums.
Along with eating the right foods, exercise is also very important to ensure you do not become stiff. The best exercises are low impact endurance exercises, strength training for muscle tone, and range of motion to help with flexibility.
I make sure I get enough rest and may even take a nap during the day when possible on days when the pain is intense. I do not sit in one position for too long. I get up, move around about every 15 minutes, and constantly exercise my fingers such as squeezing a stress ball.
Stress can bring on more pain, so relaxation is also a very important part of routine. Even if all I do is, go outside and breathe in the sunshine for a few minutes.
I cannot say that I do not experience pain and swelling, but by eating properly, getting enough rest, reducing stress, and exercising, I can cope with the flare-ups and still enjoying all the things I wish to do.