World Arthritis Day (WAD), celebrated globally on 12th Oct was established by Arthritis and Rheumatism International (ARI) in 1996. It is managed and supported by EULAR (European League Against Rheumatism). A global initiative, it aims at raising awareness about issues faced by the people affected by rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs). Apart from raising awareness in the general public and the medical community, WAD also aims at influencing the decision makers of public policy about steps to be taken. It also aims to ensure that all the affected people are aware about the available support network.
Roughly 15% of the Indian population (180 million) are said to be affected by arthritis. Osteoarthritis is counted among the ten most disabling diseases. For people above 60 years, another interesting fact is that, in this age group, approximately 9.6 % of men and 18 % of women, display osteoarthritis symptoms. The symptoms are joint pain, fatigue, weight loss, difficulty in moving the limbs, muscle weakness, poor sleep, etc.
5 steps to manage arthritis
- Wear the right shoes: Difficult as it may seem to believe, wearing the right shoes can reduce the force exerted on the knee joints by about 11%. It has been proved scientifically that wearing flat, flexible shoes like sneakers works well in reducing the knee as well as the hip pain. Care should be taken in selecting footwear of the closed kind that can provide arch support.
- Physiotherapy or exercise: Exercise is good for health and it also works well for arthritis. There are physiotherapy exercises that are specifically designed to help improve strength, posture, function, and range of motion. A few exercises are designed to reduce the pain as well. Depending on the nature of the pain, a physiotherapist may be consulted to start off the exercises and understand the duration, implications etc. It is important not to overdo and cause further pain. A few exercises are specialized and may need aids while a few are simpler and can be done by self.
- Heat or cold treatment: Hot or cold packs have always been used to treat muscle spasms. It works well in arthritis pain management as well. Appropriate hot or cold packs may be applied depending on the convenience. The hot packs improve the blood flow and thus relaxes the muscles and in turn the pain. The cold packs help reduce the inflammations and overriding the nerve pains. The heat or cold pack application can be done two to three times a day for best results for a duration of about 15 minutes. Care should be taken not to overdo the heat or the cold.
- Meditation: If you are wondering what the relationship between arthritis and meditation is, then the link is stress. It is stress in the body that causes inflammation and in turn, manifests as pain. Meditation is one of the world’s most acknowledged stress relieving therapy. Hence, practicing meditation techniques to relax the mind and the body can actually work wonders to relieve inflammation and pain. Make it a point to practice this at least twice a day for about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Yoga: Yoga has been acknowledged as one of the most powerful wellness therapy worldwide. Many scientific studies have proved that regular practice of Yoga actually helps people with arthritis a lot in reducing the pain. Apart from this, Yoga also helps improve the flexibility and lowers the stress levels. Yoga poses have been modified to suit people with osteoarthritis. In order to get going, the help of a certified Yoga teacher may be taken.