“Wait a minute…. I have arthritis and you’re asking me to exercise? Give me a break! Do you know how much pain I’m in? There’s no way my body will allow me to walk through the door of a gym let alone to the end of my driveway to grab the mail. “
Do you suffer from arthritis and does this scenario sound familiar? If so, you’re not alone. Believe it or not, exercise is just one of the many things that will actually alleviate your arthritis symptoms in the long run. There are many common misconceptions about arthritis. Here are just a few.
• Arthritis is for old people.
o FALSE! Young children get arthritis. Did you know that children with Junior Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA) often suffer from high fevers every single day of their lives? They frequently have enlarged livers and spleens which help lead doctors to the JRA diagnoses.
o Pets get arthritis too. The pain and inflammation in the affected pet’s joints causes a decline in mobility.
• Arthritis consists of minor aches and pains.
o Maybe arthritis is a minor irritation for some lucky people but for others like myself, arthritis is an excruciatingly painful disease that prevents you from getting out of bed some days.
o Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. This disease causes cartilage to deteriorate in joints leading to very painful bone on bone friction.
o Rheumatoid and Psoriatic Arthritis are actually autoimmune diseases meaning the body of the afflicted person actually attacks its own cells. Their immune system mistakes some part of the body as a pathogen and attacks it.
• There is a cure for Arthritis.
o Don’t we wish?! There are many things people can do to slow arthritis progression, but as of today there is no cure. Various medications can help alleviate pain symptoms and slow the progression of this disease, but they don’t actually cure the disease.
o In addition to medication, exercise really helps control soreness and flare-ups.
Although it’s difficult for all people (arthritis or not) to start a new fitness routine, it’s especially difficult for those suffering from chronic pain and disease. But once you get started and movement becomes habitual, you’ll quickly start to notice how much better you really can and do feel. Keep in mind, I’m not saying that people with Arthritis need to be outside running marathons. I’m talking about walking, dancing, doing yoga, riding a bike… anything that gets you moving.
Remember your treatment starts with you so be good to your body, it’s the only one you’ve got. I’ve personally found it liberating to take control of my disease whenever possible so the disease doesn’t always control me. That being said, don’t be afraid to get out there and start moving and start taking control of your own body! May is Arthritis month so it’s the perfect time to get outside and start walking. You are not alone. There are over 100 Arthritis Walks being help nationwide throughout the month of May. Chances are, there’s a walk being held near your community. So start moving and start feeling good!
If you want to learn more about walks in your community, visit the Arthritis Foundation’s Walk site for locations and to sign up: http://www.arthritis.org/arthritis-walk.php
If you are interested in learning more about how movement helps alleviate arthritis symptoms, visit the fight arthritis pain site: http://www.fightarthritispain.org/
Lastly, if you live in the Chicagoland area, I encourage you to sign up and walk with my team on May 22nd in Lincoln Park: http://chicagoarthritiswalk.kintera.org/faf/search/searchTeamPart.asp?ievent=312423&lis=1&kntae312423=A21824C4BC8D4E1A8875387245DE9317&team=3618638&tlteam=3639644