Healthy Louisiana: Fighting Arthritis
Hundreds of thousands of Louisianians have incurable arthritis but, there is hope
Over 50 million Americans have some form of arthritis, and approximately 923,000 of them live in Louisiana (arthritis.org). For some people, the condition may be unavoidable, but there are ways you can make living with arthritis easier.
Some of the risk factors cannot be controlled: age, family history, sex (women are more likely to get arthritis than men). Others, however, are manageable. One of the risk factors is obesity. Louisiana has the fourth-highest adult obesity rate in the United States (stateofchildhoodobesity.org). Reducing your weight can reduce your risk of arthritis.
Other risk factors can be traced back to life events. If you played high-impact sports like football, soccer, or basketball in your youth, you will be more likely to develop arthritis as you age. Physical traumas can also play a role. For example, if you were injured in a car accident as a teenager, that can make you more susceptible to arthritis later in life.
Dr. Stephanie Coleman, a family practice physician at Baton Rouge General Medical Center, said the most common arthritis spots are the knees, hips, hands and spine. She said doctors will offer progressive treatments based on the severity of symptoms and how much a patient’s quality of life has been affected. Tylenol and anti-inflammatories are one form of treatment. Physical therapy is also recommended to strengthen the muscles surrounding the joints to ease the burden on the problematic area. Steroid injections into the joints can come later, and surgery in the form of joint replacement is the last resort.
While exercise is recommended for arthritis patients, it is best to consult with a doctor or physical therapist before beginning a workout program. High-impact activities can damage joints and cause more pain. But low-impact activities such as simple walking (avoid stairs) or swimming can be a great benefit to arthritis patients.
“People think the only options are pain management or joint replacement, but there are other choices,” Dr. Coleman said. “There are multiple treatment options out there, so if you haven’t found the right one for you yet, don’t lose hope.”
3 greens in season
Like most tender greens, arugula needs to be consumed within a few days of buying it. The leaves should be firm. Health benefits include calcium, potassium and vitamin C.
If you have issues with digestion or inflammation (including arthritis), celery is a great choice. Celery has approximately 25 anti-inflammatory compounds to help protect your body.
Kale is one of the healthiest, most nutrient-dense foods you can eat. It’s very low in fat and calories, but high in vitamins A, K, C and B6. It’s also full of calcium, potassium, magnesium and much more.