World Arthritis Awareness Day: 12th October

October 12th marks World Arthritis Day.  The day aims to raise awareness of the importance of early diagnosis and timely access to treatment. Early diagnosis is key to preventing further damage, but rheumatoid and musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs) often receive delayed diagnosis.

According to the NHS Choices, there are several ways you can minimise the impact and discomfort that arthritis causes.

Healthy eating

It's very important to eat a healthy, balanced diet if you have arthritis. Eating healthily will give you all the nutrients you need and help you maintain a healthy weight.

Your diet should consist of a variety of foods from all five food groups. These are:

  • fruit and vegetables
  • starchy foods – such as bread, rice, potatoes and pasta
  • meat, fish, eggs and beans
  • milk and dairy foods
  • foods containing fat and sugar

If you're overweight, losing weight can really help you cope with arthritis. Too much weight places excess pressure on the joints in your hips, knees, ankles and feet, leading to increased pain and mobility problems.

Exercise

If your arthritis is painful, you may not feel like exercising. However, being active can help reduce and prevent pain. Regular exercise can also:

  • improve your range of movement and joint mobility
  • increase muscle strength
  • reduce stiffness
  • boost your energy

As long as you do the right type and level of exercise for your condition, your arthritis won't get any worse. Combined with a healthy, balanced diet, regular exercise will help you lose weight and place less strain on your joints.

Joint care

If you have arthritis, it's important to look after your joints so there's no further damage. For example, try to reduce the stress on your joints while carrying out everyday tasks like moving and lifting.

Some tips for protecting your joints, particularly if you have arthritis, include:

  • use larger, stronger joints as levers – for example, take the pressure of opening a heavy door on your shoulder rather than on your hand
  • use several joints to spread the weight of an object – for example, use both hands to carry your shopping or distribute the weight evenly in a shoulder bag or rucksack
  • don't grip too tightly – grip as loosely as possible or use a padded handle to widen your grip
  • It's also important to avoid sitting in the same position for long periods of time and to take regular breaks so you can move around.

If you are concerned about not getting enough nutrients from your diet, you may wish to look at taking a supplement.  Vitamin D helps to maintain normal bones and teeth, supplements containing glucosamine support cartilage formation.

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