Cold, damp weather can lead to a painful start to the day for those with arthritis, and is marked by swelling and stiffness of the joints.
The condition affects around 10 million people in the UK of all ages and, as our national media reported recently, even blights those in tip-top shape including Strictly Come Dancing judge, Craig Revel Horwood.
The acid-tongued star told the national press that following a period where he could hardly walk, he had undergone a hip replacement. Within a week of surgery, he was back on the set of the hit TV series!
There are numerous forms of arthritis. For the physically active, including dancers and athletes, an injury can eventually lead to osteoarthritis, the most common form of the condition. However, there are other causes; and it is more frequent in women aged 40 plus, or in those with other joint-related conditions, like gout.
Targeting the smooth cartilage lining of joints (most prevalently in the hands, knees and hips) it results in pain and stiffness, making moving about difficult. Once your cartilage thins out, the tendons and ligaments have to work harder causing nasty swelling. If that cartilage loss is severe, it can force your bones out of joint.
Rheumatoid arthritis is the second most frequent form of the condition. This differs in that the body’s immune system targets affected joints, leaving them painful and swollen and in some cases, causes the bone and cartilage to break down. People with rheumatoid arthritis can develop problems with other organs and tissues in their body, leaving them feeling tired and generally unwell.
Although it affects older adults more, there are also forms of arthritis that attack children and young people. You can learn more about these by visiting www.versusarthritis.org/about-arthritis/conditions/juvenile-idiopathic-arthritis/
There is no cure for arthritis, but there are medications and lifestyle changes to minimise its impact. Make your first port of call a visit to the doctor’s, where your condition will be assessed and a course of treatment agreed. This may include the use of painkillers. In very serious cases, it can result in joint replacement and joint fusion surgery.
Physiotherapy is often recommended for osteoarthritis, as is appropriate exercise. New American research has directly linked obesity to arthritis and has shown that every pound of excess weight can put stress on the joints, especially the weight-bearing joints like the knees and the hips.
So make sure you stay on your dancing feet by working with your GP to manage arthritis. That gets a ten – from Dr Chauhan!
(Rochdale Online – 24th October 2018)