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.
The 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.
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.
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.
Take this survey to help Arthritis Research Canada advance research into symptoms.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Start the night with a warm shower or bubble bath to warm up the joints, to help with sore muscles, and to relax.
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.
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!
According 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 →
Stephanie Studenski, MD, MPH, Chief of the Longitudinal Studies Section at the NIH National Institute on Aging, spoke about the importance of functional measurement in patients with reduced performance due to arthritis problems
As part of ACE’s leadership, along with the Canadian Association for Retired Persons (CARP) and Alzheimer’s Society of BC, in the development and launch of the Walk10Blocks app, we learned walking is good for your health. Research shows that even walking 10 city blocks a day, equivalent to about 2,000 – 3,000 steps or 1 km, can help delay dementia and may help improve cardiovascular and joint health over time.
Today at the ACR/ARHP annual meeting, Stephanie Studenski, MD, MPH, Chief of the Longitudinal Studies Section at the NIH National Institute on Aging, spoke about the importance of functional measurement in patients with reduced performance due to arthritis problems:
“Rheumatology was among the first disciplines to develop functional measures such as the 50-foot walk and grip strength, and in my original training as a rheumatologist, I was struck by how potentially powerful and meaningful these functional measurements are.” She added: “We’ve found that these measures are powerful predictors of overall effect in adults, including risk of hospitalization, length of stay, hospital-related complications, surgery related complications and overall survival.”
ACE launches first of three new blogs to help you “power up” your arthritis knowledge, get more connected to the community, and learn the latest about health policy and politics affecting our group of chronic diseases.
As Canada’s largest national patient-led organization and provider of evidence-based information and education programming, ACE is always looking for better ways to “power up” Canadians living with arthritis.
As always, we want to know what you think. We encourage you to share feedback and offer topics of interest for future blog posts.
We hope you had a great Arthritis Awareness Month in Canada!
Is your mouth a gateway to getting arthritis?
When Health Canada’s Canadian Institutes of Health Research was created in 1994, I, like many, was puzzled that they included oral health along with musculoskeletal health in the research pillar known as the Institute for Musculoskeletal Health and Arthritis (IMHA). After all, what do researchers trying to solve the thousands of mysteries that make up “arthritis”, a group of over 100 different diseases, have to do with teeth. But were they ever smart to do so; the latest research shows the mouth and the joints are definitely connected.
Viral infections are responsible for approximately 1% of all cases of infectious arthritis. These infections include parvovirus B19, HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, hepatitis E, human T-lymphotrophic virus type-1, and arboviruses. Infectious arthritis can last for hours or days and is marked by pain, heat, rash, redness, and swelling. Some people, particularly the elderly, will experience fever and chills. Most infectious arthritis cases involve only one joint and more than half of these affect the knee. It can also affect the wrists, ankles, shoulders, hips, and spine.
According to Everyday Health, infectious arthritis occurs when germs invade the joint due to:
animal or insect bites
injury to the joint
bacterial infection during surgery
spread from a nearby infection
blood stream infection
People with an increased risk of getting infectious arthritis include people who: Continue reading →
It’s time to see your rheumatologist and specialist. Please have your recorder, pens and paper ready.
A study published in Psychological Science provides two hypotheses as to why note-taking is beneficial in a classroom setting. The first hypothesis is called encoding hypothesis, which says that when a person is taking notes, “the processing that occurs” will improve “learning and retention.” The second hypothesis is called the external-storage hypothesis – you learn by being able to look back at your notes, or even the notes of other people.
The same concepts can be applied to your medical appointments and is currently practiced by Dr. James Ryan, a family physician in Ludington, Michigan. With his patients’ approval, Dr. Ryan records their appointments, then uploads the audio file to a secure web platform for his patients. The recordings are annotated so that patients can easily search for specific topics in the conversation. Patients will be empowered and engaged in their own healthcare because they will have a reference of what was discussed. They can give family members access to the recordings as well.