Living your best life with arthritis.

Yoga & Arthritis

The most recent EULAR recommendations for pain management in inflammatory arthritis and osteoarthritis (OA) include physical activity and exercise as a part of a patient’s treatment plan. Physical activity has been shown to significantly ease joint pain and increase mobility, for this reason, exercise is increasingly being prescribed by physicians and other healthcare providers.

Some examples of well-known and effective exercises for people with arthritis include walking, biking and swimming. These are low-impact aerobic exercises, meaning they will generally be easier on the joints and cause your heart rate to increase. Are there other activities that could also benefit people living with arthritis, such as yoga?

Continue reading

Share your impact statement for World Arthritis Day: How has arthritis changed your world?

MyWorldWithArthritis campaign bannerShare your impact statement for World Arthritis Day: How has arthritis changed your world? #MyWorldWithArthritis

World Arthritis Day is October 12. Share your experience living with arthritis to let others know they’re not alone in their battle against arthritis.

Arthritis affects an estimated 6 million people in Canada and 54 million in the United States; it can significantly impact daily activities, work, relationships, school and the way people see themselves. With over 100 types of arthritis affecting people of all ages, the patient community is incredibly diverse and so are their experiences.

#MyWorldWithArthritis will bring attention to the prevalence of the disease and the different ways that it can impact the lives of individuals. Throughout the day on October 12, we will be sharing quotes from patients and their friends and family members on our social media platforms. Here are some examples:
Continue reading

National Relaxation Day: Tips to manage stress from arthritis

Arthritis affects people of all ages and can cause stress, and in more serious cases, depression and anxiety. Pain researchers are discovering how emotions, thoughts, and behaviours can influence the level of pain someone experiences and how well they adjust to it. For instance, how an individual responds to stress can predict how well they will recover from hip replacement surgery. Even how a patient feels about whether their coping strategies are working, or not, can affect their experience of the pain itself. Other factors that can influence how well you manage with your disease are whether you feel helpless, tend to spend a lot of time thinking about your pain, whether you decide to accept your pain and carry on in spite of it, and how well you handle stress. Arthritis Broadcast Network believes people living with arthritis deserve extra relaxation on National Relaxation Day and hope that the following tips will help you relax!

Breathing

Rhythmic breathing and deep breathing can help release tension from everyday life. The former involves inhaling and exhaling slowly while counting to five; the latter can be accomplished by filling your abdomen with air, like inflating and deflating a balloon.

Exercise 

Image of someone cycling on the shared bike pathwayHarvard Health summarizes the benefits of exercise as follows: Exercise reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that are the body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators. Endorphins are responsible for the “runner’s high” and for the feelings of relaxation and optimism that accompany many hard workouts — or, at least, the hot shower after your exercise is over. Continue reading

Types of arthritis that make people more sensitive to sunlight

Lupus, psoriatic arthritis, and scleroderma are several types of arthritis that make people more sensitive to sunlight – either because of arthritis itself or the medications they take to treat it. It is important for these people to include sun protection as part of their self-management plan.

Stay sun safe image with beach essentialsThe sun radiates two types of “invisible” ultraviolet light that are harmful if you are exposed to it for a long period of time – ultraviolet A (UVA) can age the skin and ultraviolet B (UVB) can burn the skin. Both UVA and UVB can alter the DNA of skin cells, increasing the risk of skin cancer. For people living with lupus, psoriatic arthritis or scleroderma, sun exposure can make symptoms worse or increase damage to skin cells.

Sun sensitivity is a hallmark of lupus. People with lupus experience one or many of these symptoms:

  • “butterfly” rash over the bridge of the nose and the upper cheeks
  • scaly, purplish lesions on the face and neck
  • red, circular rashes on the chest, back and arms

Sun exposure can bring on these rashes or make existing rashes worse. Those with systemic lupus erythematosus find that exposure to the sun triggers a flare, including joint pain, fatigue, and fever.

Continue reading

Youth Sport Injury and Osteoarthritis

With summer upon us, millions of Canadian youth are participating in sport activities every day. Sport and recreation is a great way for youth to get exercise, socialize, develop teamwork skills and improve mental and physical health. Unfortunately, the benefits of sport also come with the risk of injury. In fact, one in three youth aged 11-18 years will sustain a sport-related injury that requires medical attention each year, with knee and ankle injuries being the most common. Research has shown that these youth sport injuries, if not treated properly, can lead to osteoarthritis (OA) within 15 years, specifically a form known as post-traumatic osteoarthritis. Youth sport injury can also lead to obesity later in life, which happens to be another major risk factor for OA. This means that youth with 1 major risk factor for OA (joint injury) are in danger of acquiring a second risk factor for the disease (obesity).

Osteoarthritis is caused by the breakdown of cartilage in the joints and affects more than 5 million Canadians nation-wide; the disease can cause moderate to severe pain, disability and even require surgery. Osteoarthritis symptoms generally appear 10-15 years after a joint injury, and by this time the disease is very difficult to treat. Unlike inflammatory arthritis, there are no medications to slow the disease process of osteoarthritis, so preventative measures are of even greater importance. The upside? We can ensure our youth take proper precautions to avoid injury and hugely minimize their risk of developing OA.

What can a coach or parent do to help?

Continue reading

Exercise, arthritis and osteoporosis

Girl Stretching

Photo Credit: By marin/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The research literature on exercise is growing, and it is now generally accepted that there are many benefits of exercise for arthritis and osteoporosis. General benefits of exercise include improved heart and lung function, weight control, and improvement of self-esteem and self-confidence.

Before starting an exercise program, at home or at a gym, it is important to speak to a health professional trained in exercise for arthritis and osteoporosis. They can help you to design an exercise program that will be both safe and effective.

Before, during and after exercise:

  • It is important to warm-up and cool down before and after exercising. Use range of motion or heat.
  • If you are still experiencing pain more than two hours after exercise – you may have done too much.
  • Use slow, planned movements when doing ROM and strengthening exercises.
  • Practice in front of a mirror until you feel confident you are doing the exercise as demonstrated by your health professional.

Types of Exercise
Continue reading

“The 1 Minute Symptoms Survey”

Take this survey to help Arthritis Research Canada advance research into symptoms.

picture with the words "Just One Minute"A group of researchers from the University of British Columbia and other Canadian universities are developing a new survey to learn more about a wide range of symptoms that people have (for example, back pain, headache, fatigue, joint pain, anxiety, constipation, etc.). To inform the planned study, we would like to know the opinions of people like you whether this research is important and whether the findings may be valuable.

Making Valentine’s Day special for someone living with arthritis

Valentines Day image

Research has shown that people in relationships in which they feel positive, connected, and comfortable sharing feelings may experience a reduction in their physical disability and pain, and fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety. Do you know how to make Valentine’s Day special for someone living with arthritis?

Below are some ways to impress your sweetheart:

  1. Take the time to learn your partner’s disease. Learning about your partner’s disease will show that you care, understand and want to share their struggles and celebrate their accomplishments with them. You will also reduce the feelings of stress and frustration that sometimes come with explaining one’s arthritis to a friend or loved one.
  2. Pace your Valentine’s Day activities. Pace yourself to conserve your energy. Look at what you can realistically do and ask your partner for their feedback on your Valentine’s Day plan(s). You will both feel more relaxed and controlled.
  3. Ask others to help. Put certain tasks on hold or delegate others to complete the tasks for you while you take the night off with your loved one. If you have children or pets, ask a relative or friend if they can look after them for you.
  4. Avoid long commute. There are health risks associated with activities that require you to be in the same position for long periods of time, such as getting stiff or swollen joints. If you must commute a long way, ensure the car seat is comfortable and to take short standing breaks every 15 minutes or so.
  5. Avoid smoking and limit the amount of alcohol you drink before anticipated sexual activity. Both reduce sexual functioning. Furthermore, some of the medicines your doctor prescribes to relieve sore joints don’t mix well with alcohol – including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve), which carry a greater risk for stomach bleeding and ulcers when you drink. Taken with acetaminophen, methotrexate or leflunomide, alcohol can make you more susceptible to liver damage.
  6. Start the night with a warm shower or bubble bath to warm up the joints, to help with sore muscles, and to relax.
  7. Talk to your partner about what you like and don’t like, what hurts and what doesn’t hurt. You may find the honesty will enhance your relationship, and you will likely be more comfortable during sexual activity because of communicating what works for you. If you are finding these conversations difficult, you may benefit from seeing a sex therapist.
  8. Incorporate sexual activity and physical contact (like hugging) into your Valentine’s Day activities. Both can improve bonds between people and help build trust, reduce pain, promote sleep, reduce stress, boost immunity, burn calories, improve self-esteem, and improve heart health.

If you have any other ideas, please leave us a comment on Facebook or Twitter. On behalf of the team at Arthritis Broadcast Network, I hope you will have a wonderful Valentine’s Day!

People with rheumatoid arthritis may develop lung problems

A man and woman coughing and blowing nose to represent lung problemsAccording to the Arthritis Foundation, almost ten percent of people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) will also develop interstitial lung disease (ILD), or scarring of lung tissues. In addition, people living with RA are at an increased risk of developing these lung problems:

  • bronchiectasis (damage to the airways)
  • bronchiolitis obliterates (inflammation in small bronchial tubes)
  • pleural effusion (a buildup of fluid between the lung and chest wall)
  • pleurisy (fluid outside of the lung)
  • pulmonary fibrosis (scarring)
  • pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure in the lungs)
  • pulmonary nodules (small growths in the lungs)

In some cases, RA can even affect the vocal cords, causing hoarseness or shortness of breath. Here are some tips from Everyday Health that may help you maintain your lung health, while living with RA: Continue reading