Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis diagnosed in New Zealand. In recognition of world arthritis day on 12 October, here’s what you need to know about osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis affects around 10% of adults. It happens where your cartilage has become thin or where it is wearing down. Cartilage sits between two bones, such as your femur and tibia, and acts as a shock absorber. It also facilitates the smooth movement between the bones.
Whilst it was once thought that osteoarthritis was the result of wear and tear; researchers now believe other factors such as inflammation, injury and aging, may also have a role to play.
What are the signs of osteoarthritis?
Check in with a medical professional if you notice your joints are stiff, particularly when you go to move after being still for a long time; you notice your joints are painful or there is swelling in or near the joint. You
may notice that your muscles seem weaker, or you may hear hear creaking or cracking when moving.
What can you do to manage osteoarthritis?
1. Move your body
Remaining as mobile as possible and taking regular appropriate exercise such as tai chi, walking and swimming can help to reduce pain and retain mobility.
Research has found that knitting can help where there is osteoarthritis in the hands. Just be sure you are maintaining great posture while you knit. Check out Knit for Peace for some inspiration. If you’re not in the UK, consider getting together with your knitting friends and knitting for your favourite charity.
Prioritise nutrition that is focused on reducing inflammation
Follow a diet that favours anti-inflammatory foods such as turmeric, olive oil, green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale, foods that are rich in omega-3 oils (or a supplement such as Udos Oil or fish oils from clean sources). Try to reduce your intake of inflammatory foods such as refined carbohydrates (e.g. white bread, pastries), deep fried foods, items where there are high levels of sugar (e.g soda), red meat (burgers, steaks), processed meat (hot dogs, sausages), and manufactured oils such as margarine, shortening, and lard.
Herbs can be particularly helpful as there are a number of herbs which have a good evidence base in relation to managing conditions such as osteoarthritis. They tend to be anti-inflammatory, pain relieving and able to increase resilience.
Explore using lifestyle aids such as jar openers, ball point pen grips and gardening utensils that are specifically designed to reduce loading on the hands.