The Citizen (KZN)

Turn your back on arthritis

TOP TIPS: EXERCISE, HEALTHY LIFESTYLE CAN PREVENT PAIN Survey shows that more than 50 million people globally suffer with joint pain.

- Citizen reporter

Between 2019 and 2021, approximat­ely 53.2 million adults aged 18 and older were diagnosed with some form of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lupus or fibromyalg­ia, according to data from the National Health Interview Survey.

Furthery analysis reveals that women are 35% more likely to have arthritis than men, with 24.2% of women reporting to suffer from the condition compared to 17.9% of men.

Almost half (47.3%) of those aged 65 and older had arthritis while those between 18 and 44 were less likely to develop it with just 5.4% of people in this age group formally diagnosed by a medical doctor.

Overweight or obese people were also more likely to develop arthritis and joint pain than those classed as underweigh­t or a healthy weight.

With this in mind, Dr Amit Poonia, a pain management specialist at the Interventi­onal Pain Management & Ortho-Spine Centre in the US, has shared his tips for preventing and managing joint pain and arthritis.

He said: “For those who are more likely to develop, or already have, joint pain and arthritis, building up your exercise routine is one of the best ways to prevent and alleviate joint pain.

“Exercises that include weights, resistance bands or even your own body weight, can help to build stronger muscles.

“The stronger your muscles are, the greater increase you will see in your mobility, which helps considerab­ly in terms of doing simple functional tasks such as cleaning, cooking and doing your laundry.

“Aerobic exercises such as a brisk walk or cycling can be good for those struggling with joint pain. They can help to build cardiovasc­ular endurance, boost your energy and work out all your muscle groups,” added Poonia.

“Swimming is especially helpful as moving in water puts less weight on your joints.

“It’s important not to ignore flexibilit­y and balancing exercises when building your exercise routine as these are low-impact and reduce the risk of injury.

“Yoga, Pilates and stretching keep your body moving throughout the whole exercise and can help to prevent stiffness.

“Pilates stretches your spine and strengthen­s your muscles, while yoga helps to improve flexibilit­y and lowers stress.

“Tai chi is also good for those at risk of falling or who have trouble walking,” he said.

As well as offering tips on how to build a good exercise routine for your joints, Poonia has suggested some adjustment­s that you can make in your daily life.

“It’s also key to be aware of habits that can worsen your symptoms, such as smoking and unhealthy eating.

“Smoking can cause wholebody inflammati­on, which can exacerbate the pain in your body.

“Eating the five main food groups regularly is important to maintain a healthy weight to avoid putting extra weight and stress on your joints. Calcium, Vitamin D, and iron are particular­ly important to promote bone strength,” added Poonia.

As arthritis and other rheumatoid conditions are a leading cause of work disability, the pain specialist also recommends the following for those suffering with pain at work.

“Those who work sitting down for extended periods of time should aim to get up every 30 minutes to stretch their muscles, as well as creating an ergonomic work environmen­t for themselves.

“This can include ensuring that your chair is the right height and has good back support, that your table is the correct height for you, and that there is something to support your wrists if needed.”

“For those who are regularly on their feet for work, such as constructi­on or warehouse workers, it is important to ensure that they are lifting heavy items correctly.

“Placing the load on your knees and hips, rather than with your back, and holding items close to your chest, rather than in front of you with your wrists, can help to reduce pain on these common areas of inflammati­on.

“Prioritisi­ng self-care, including healthy nutrition, regular exercise and sufficient rest are important steps for helping manage the challenges of joint pain and arthritis,” said Poonia.

Women are 35% more likely to have arthritis compared to men

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