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More than 15% of adults in the U.S. are suffering from excruciating pain brought about by arthritis. Whether you've been diagnosed or know someone who has, this startling statistic may hit close to home. Even if you can't relate, this debilitating condition may be an issue for you or your loved ones later in life. Take this opportunity now to discover and read about what arthritis is, what are conventional treatments, and why even a plant-based diet can provide relief for diagnosees.
Quick Snapshots of Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis
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Whether you're a juvenile, a young to middle-aged adult, or a senior citizen, developing arthritis at any stage of life can be taxing and burdensome. Depending upon your diagnosis, both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis come with their own set of comparable, but unique challenges and symptoms.
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For instance, imagine this: For years now, you've been an active parent of two rambunctious children, and have even managed to handle the grueling and often restrictive work schedule that comes with being an IT specialist. Despite working around the clock for over ten years, you're relatively healthy. You're never sick, you're always brimming with energy, and the stress that comes with being a parent and a full-time worker is kept at bay. But soon it comes to a screeching halt.
You’ve just woken up, right before dawn, and although you’ve gotten your usual 7-hours of sleep you’re still feeling tired. Even though a strong sense of malaise has overcome you, you still go about your usual morning routine: take a shower, get dressed, brush your teeth, comb your hair, and get a quick bite to eat. But something's off. While taking a shower, you notice that even the simplest of tasks, for example, like squeezing a tube of shampoo or picking up a bar of soap, are met with great difficulty. For whatever reason there’s a mild stiffness in your hands and fingers. To make matters worse, you're left with a scary and new symptom: a loss of appetite.
Whether you know it or not, these are the telltale signs of rheumatoid arthritis.
In contrast, visualize this: You're a 45-year-old, and you can't remember a day you've gone without exercise. Over the past two decades, you've been into elite-level competitive weightlifting. You're used to lifting over 450 pounds or more on your good days.
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But one day, out of the blue, you feel an achy pain and hear a distinctive popping and crackling sound coming from your knee joints. You shake it off, thinking it's nothing. But the problem doesn't go away. It only gets worse.
Unfortunately for you, these symptoms may be hinting that you have osteoarthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are diseases that can affect anyone’s quality of life. If you could relate with any of these visuals, schedule an appointment with your general practitioner. Tell him or her about your symptoms, so you can receive an accurate diagnosis.
RA vs. OA: What's the Difference?
Although there are over a hundred types of arthritides, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA) ordinarily affect a majority of those diagnosed, according to the National Institute of Health. For people living with rheumatoid arthritis, arthritic pain quickly manifests itself after the body has attacked its own immune system. Joints in their wrists, hands, and feet quickly become reddened and inflamed, making everyday tasks arduous and challenging. On the other hand, osteoarthritis is caused by the erosion and grinding down of cartilaginous joints in larger sections of the body (i.e., the knees, hip, and spine), and some smaller areas like toes and fingers. As you can imagine, sufferers look for any option possible to mitigate the pain.
What Are Common Treatments for Both Rheumatoid and Osteoarthritis?
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RA and OA arthritic pain can be experienced uniquely by any number of individuals. Therefore this pain can be managed and treated either differently or similarly by doctors.
For those suffering with OA, rheumatologists usually prescribe two types of medicines. The first type are anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen, which all reduce joint swelling. The second type are pain medications like acetaminophen (Tylenol), which elevates the pain threshold.
Those diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis are typically treated with NSAIDs, immunosuppressant drugs, corticosteroids, disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs, and biologic agents. Biologic agents such as Humira, and corticosteroids are prescribed so as to suppress the body’s inflammatory response. Whereas disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs like Trexall, suppress both inflammation and the body’s immune response.
In severe cases, for both RA and OA, joint replacement surgery is often deemed necessary.
Take an Alternative Approach: Herbs, Spices and a Plant-Based Diet
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Can herbs and spices leave your joints in less pain? Dr. George Krucik and Kristeen Cherney, a staff writer at Healthline, say so. Just like the ancients practiced herbalism to treat and help relieve a variety of ailments, many people today are looking for plants and herbs to do the same. According to Krucik and Cherney, scientists have found that there are about ten herbs and spices globally that are said to help with arthritis. Some contain anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. Cat's claw, eucalyptus, ginger, green tea, thunder god vine, and turmeric are a few.
In addition to this, doctors have found out that both OA and RA sufferers should be careful of what they eat and monitor their BMI. According to WebMD, “excess fat releases chemicals that cause inflammation” in joints of RA-sufferers. And also, excess weight puts additional pressure on the knee joints and other weight-bearing joints of those with RA and OA.
So what’s the solution?
One solution suggested in the scientific community is eating home-cooked, low-fat vegan, or vegetarian meals. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has concluded that inflammation, measured by the body’s circulating C-reactive protein (CRP), is significantly reduced because of the high “vegetable and fiber content of a plant-based diet.” If this diet is kept consistent, RA patients can expect less throbbing joint pain, and both RA and OA can expect to shed some pounds making it easier to walk with less pain.
If you’re interested in trying this method, but worried about not getting adequate amounts of protein, then look for protein-rich recipes that use eggplants, tofu, legumes and lentils.
Additionally, if you're not comfortable in the kitchen, then this post will get you on the right track.
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At the end of the day, managing arthritis is not only about medications taken and surgeries undergone. The crux of the matter lies in what rheumatoid and osteoarthritis sufferers eat.
Being on a plant-based diet and taking herbal supplements not only mitigate arthritic pain and swelling but will kick start your healthy journey for a healthier you!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Janelle Adams is the Digital Content Producer at Mama's Masalas. Having a cross-functional position, she is responsible for editing blogs and product descriptions, identifying and creating needed graphics and videos, managing all social media channels, and assisting in product line development.
Being a native of Georgia and a lover of the metro-Atlanta area, she naturally chose to study in-state. While at Kennesaw State University, Janelle joined the Kennesaw Marketing Association (KMA), which allowed her to form marketing-focused connections, and attend networking events in the region. In May 2020, she graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Management.
Having an acute eye for design and a need to build, Janelle often creates digital art on Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, and practices constructing computer-based models on Rhinoceros 3D.