Is Arthritis a Normal Part of Aging?

Arthritis And AgingMany comedians have made many jokes about arthritis over the years. One of the most quoted of these is from a speech by famed comedian Jack Benny, when he said, “I don’t deserve this award… but then again, I have arthritis and I don’t deserve that either.” Mr. Benny may have been kidding, but undoubtedly there were many days he didn’t see his arthritis as a joke. And if you’re someone who suffers from it, you likely don’t either. But arthritis is a natural part of aging, right? Surely, we’ve all known older folks who suffered from arthritis, and we just figured it was something we had to deal with as we aged. Thankfully, this is a myth. Arthritis is not, repeat, not a normal part of aging. Although millions of folks in the U.S. have developed arthritis as they got older, the fact about this condition is that, in many cases, it is preventable. Here’s more information from joint specialists in South Orange about arthritis and its relationship to the aging process.

Arthritis comes in many forms. In fact, at last count, there were more than 150 different forms of this disease. Some of the more common and well-known forms of arthritis include carpal tunnel syndrome, bursitis, Achilles tendinitis, rheumatoid arthritis, degenerative joint disease, and osteoarthritis. Some of these forms can even attack younger people, even children. However, the incidence of arthritis in the U.S. is increasing, and the biggest reason for this is the fact that baby boomers (Americans born between 1946 and 1964) are moving into the middle and senior years of their lives.

So what causes arthritis? The fact is that the exact causes are unknown. However, there are known factors, as well as suspected contributors, to developing arthritis, especially as we age. For example, leading a sedentary lifestyle is considered to be a major risk for developing many forms of arthritis. Surprisingly, another factor can be the foods that you eat. Did you know that it’s possible to develop allergic reactions to certain foods that can worsen the pain of arthritis? The chemicals in some foods are known to interfere with pain receptors, causing or even exacerbating the pain of arthritis, especially in the elderly who can be more susceptible to the effects. Some of these foods include potatoes, tomatoes, and hot peppers. Additionally, the use of tobacco products can be a catalyst in pain exacerbation of arthritis.

By the same token, there are steps that can be taken to prevent arthritis for those who are not already sufferers, and even preventive measures that older folks who have arthritis can take to avoid increases in their pain. For instance, as calcium is a vital nutrient for bones, foods that are rich in this mineral are highly recommended for staving off arthritis and its effects. Some of these foods include salmon; dairy products such as cheese, milk, and yogurt; and vegetables such as kale and broccoli. Other nutrients that are important to keeping arthritis and its pain at bay include vitamins C and E, as these are antioxidants that are effective at removing oxidation reactions that can contribute to the development of many forms of arthritis. Some foods that are rich in vitamin C include strawberries, oranges, blueberries, and kiwi. Foods that are rich in vitamin E include eggs, wheat germ, avocados, and broccoli. Another important factor in preventing arthritis is maintaining an active lifestyle that includes weightbearing exercise such as walking, which is the ideal exercise for most people as they reach their 50s, 60s, 70s, and beyond. (Be sure to talk to your healthcare provider before beginning an exercise routine.)

Naturally, we are all aging every second of our lives. And we’re likely all hoping to live to a ripe old age. But that doesn’t mean that we have to accept arthritis and its accompanying joint pain. There are steps we can take as we age to avoid developing this often painful and even debilitating condition. If you’re someone who’s carrying around extra weight, consider getting on a healthy diet and exercise program to lower your risk of developing arthritis. Eat a healthy, nutritious diet that includes plenty of calcium and antioxidants.

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