Arthritis is not a single condition. It is, in fact, a group of more than 100 medical conditions that affect one or more joints – where two or more bones meet.
The three most common forms – which collectively affect more than 95 per cent of Australian arthritis sufferers – are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and gout. Both rheumatoid arthritis and gout are inflammatory disorders, whereas osteoarthritis is degenerative in nature.
Other forms of arthritis are mostly inflammatory conditions and include:
- ankylosing spondylitis
- juvenile arthritis
- systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus)
Arthritis can cause painful and limited movement that invariably affectsthe afflicted person’s quality of life – by interfering with basic daily tasks, such as walking, climbing stairs, driving, cleaning and cooking.
If you have arthritis, there are a number of things you can do to manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life.Some of these include:
- control your weight to ease pressure on your joints
- avoid stress or injury to your joints
- ensure good posture
- use physiotherapy and a walking stick or cane to help prevent your condition getting worse
- ensure that you regularly do weight-bearing exercise, such as walking, to help prevent osteoarthritis
- eat foods rich in omega-3 fats (e.g. oily fish, fish oil, chia seeds, walnuts), antioxidants (e.g. green tea, colourful fruits and vegetables) and anti-inflammatory properties (e.g. ginger, turmeric)
- avoid alcohol and minimise red meat, as they can increase inflammation in your body.
You can also use products to help you maintain your independence around the home, such as:
- key turners and door knob covers
- specially designed scissors with large handles
- book holders to avoid strain on the wrists and joints
- pick-up reachers (a tong-like tool that makes reaching for and grasping objects easier)
- rubber grips for pens and pencils (so you don’t have to grip as hard)
- ejector seat chairs, which may help people with limited mobility
- light, long-handled brooms and dustpans to avoid bending.
You can also access products that make it easier to get dressed, work in the kitchen or in the garden, or to manage independently in the bathroom.
Find out more about these types of products at myDr, or you can call Arthritis Australia on 1800 011 041.