We are all well aware of the damage a health epidemic can inflict on our quality of life. Yet while a certain medical condition has been dominating the headlines this year, there is another that is afflicting a million new Americans every year, with life-altering repercussions. By 2030, the number of people in the US living with arthritis is predicted to hit an incredible 67 million. Just what is behind the constant increase in cases of arthritis and what can we do about it?
What is arthritis?
The word arthritis literally means ‘inflammation in the joints’. Inflammation in itself is nothing unusual, it is a natural healing process that we might see with, for example, a bruise. With arthritis, this inflammation takes place in the joints between bones. Usually, this comes about as a result of damage to the protective layers of cartilage that are designed to protect the bones from damage. The result is feelings of pain and stiffness in the joints, just as you might feel with a bruise to your arm.
Why the epidemic?
There are a number of common triggers for arthritis, and as we run through them, we begin to understand why the number of cases is rising so sharply.
Age – advancing years is the greatest risk factor. Cartilage naturally deteriorates over time, and as more of us are living into our 80s, 90s and beyond than ever before, it is unsurprising that cases of arthritis are also increasing.
Weight – despite so many of us shifting towards healthier lifestyles, obesity rates continue to creep up across the US and the rest of the world. Carrying more ballast means greater strain on those joints, and around 30 percent of those who are obese have arthritis, compared to a national average of 17 percent.
Vitamin D deficiency – lack of vitamin D leads to weakened bones and a greater likelihood of osteoarthritis. Changing dietary habits mean that we tend to get less vitamin D than previous generations, and now we are starting to count the cost.
Living with arthritis
Curing arthritis is only possible in certain special cases, and these involve highly invasive surgical procedures such as hip replacements. While these are appropriate for some, for the vast majority, it is more a case of managing the symptoms to bring comfort and pain relief. Constantly taking pain killers can bring its own problems, but there are natural alternatives being explored, particularly in the growing CBD market, where companies like cibdol are taking the lead.
Even more important, however, is to make appropriate lifestyle changes. Losing weight doesn’t just reduce the risk of contracting arthritis in the first place, it also brings significant improvements to quality of life for those living with the condition, according to research carried out by the Center for Disease Control.
It is also vital not to fall into the trap of taking less exercise, as all this will do is exacerbate and accelerate the problem. Seek professional assistance to create an exercise regime that will be manageable and help to ease the symptoms rather than make them worse.