Arthritis is a common, painful disorder many people live with on the regular. In fact, 58.5 million individuals suffer from various arthritis-related conditions throughout the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Some people can have occasional joint pain, while others can endure completely debilitating symptoms. This condition commonly occurs in the lower back, knees, hands, feet, and hips. We reached out to Dr. Mike Bohl, MD, MPH, ALM, a member of the Eat This, Not That! Medical Expert Board who explains what exactly happens when someone is dealing with arthritis, in addition to the best habits to follow to help your symptoms. Read on to learn more, and next, be sure to check out The 6 Best Exercises for Strong and Toned Arms in 2022, Trainer Says.
This disorder negatively affects your joints
According to Dr. Bohl, arthritis is when your joints are inflamed. When many people think of this disorder, their mind goes straight to osteoarthritis, the kind of arthritis you can develop as you age. Dr. Bohl explains, "With osteoarthritis, the cartilage (the tissue that covers the ends of the bones and acts as a shock absorber and to reduce friction) is worn away over time, causing bone to rub against bone and leading to inflammation and pain."
There are different kinds of arthritis to be aware of
It's important to note that there are additional kinds of arthritis, including psoriatic arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Both are classified as autoimmune diseases. Essentially, autoimmune disease is when your body "attacks itself." In the case of arthritis, your body is attacking your joints. Gout is another type of arthritis that's very painful. It occurs when crystals develop in your joints. "In all cases, what is happening is some sort of joint damage and inflammation," Dr. Bohl explains.
Managing your weight is key for less pressure on your joints
As with any medical condition you may be experiencing, it's important to address it as soon as possible so you can help yourself as much as possible. Dr. Bohl tells us the best daily habits to follow when you're dealing with arthritis. He explains, "For certain kinds of arthritis, like arthritis caused by gout, infections, or autoimmune processes, one of the most important steps in managing arthritis is treating the cause by taking medication."
Dr. Bohl points out two additional important habits to get into, which include maintaining a healthy weight (so that you're putting less pressure on your joints) and performing regular exercise.
Exercising helps make the muscles around your joints much stronger
It's important to realize that getting in some exercise is so much more than torching calories. Dr. Bohl says, "Exercising is about more than just losing weight—exercising helps strengthen the muscles around your joints. This can help stabilize them and hold your joints in the proper position during movement, reducing the risk of experiencing pain."