Cheryl Koehn, 56, was surprised that information about how menopause might impact her rheumatoid arthritis (RA) – and vice versa – was so hard to find. “So many of us go through these profound life experiences in units of one,” says Koehn, who co-authored the book Rheumatoid Arthritis: Plan To Win (2002, Oxford University Press). In fact, living with inflammatory arthritis can affect how women experience menopause and their health risks.
Mini-trampoline classes, also called “rebounding,” have gotten buzz lately. During class, each person jumps and runs in place, often to music, on his own trampoline. Fans say these fast-paced workouts torch calories and strengthen muscles with less impact than on a hard surface, says physical therapist Scott Euype, education director at Cleveland Clinic’s Rehabilitation & Sports Therapy.
However, you should be cautious before hopping on this bandwagon. If you jump too high or fast, the force may harm an already inflamed or damaged joint. Plus, “the landing surface is unstable, so you could turn an ankle or hurt your knee,” says Mary Ann Wilmarth, owner of Back2Back Physical Therapy in Andover, Massachusetts, and a spokesperson for the American Physical Therapy Association. Check with your doctor before you try rebounding. (Avoid it if you’ve had joint replacement in your feet, ankles, knees or hips unless your doctor has given the OK.)
From granola bars to pasta, the flood of products touting high protein might have you wondering if you should be getting more protein. For most Americans, that’s probably not the case, and the packaged products filling grocery shelves may not be the best sources, because many high-protein packaged foods are also high in added sugars and calories.
Having arthritis can seriously affect your daily errands and plans. Here are some tips to help make shopping less painful and stressful.
Before you leave for the store, prioritize what you need to accomplish. If you have multiple errands to run, rank the importance of each stop in case pain sets in and you need to head home. You can also map out your route, from the farthest to closest stop to your home. Remember to consider time of day and traffic patterns. This can help you to keep the time and stress of being on the road and standing in lines to a minimum.
It is easy to forget how important your big toe is – most of the time it stays out of sight and out of mind, hidden beneath our socks and shoes. But if you have ever had toe pain, you know it can keep you off your feet and up at night.
When arthritis affects the foot it usually hits at the base of the big toe in what is known as the MTP, or metatarsophalangeal joint. This can cause big problems for the tiny joint that has to bend and bear about 50% of your body weight every time you take a step.
Here are six common culprits of big toe joint pain—many of which are related—and ways you can find relief.
Cookouts are popular summer and national holiday celebrations. But each year, nearly 17,000 people go to the emergency room because of a grilling accident, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Stay safe with these tips: Continue reading Four Steps to Grill Safely and Prevent Accidents
Doctors should routinely talk to all arthritis patients about the importance of physical activity and exercise, according to new recommendations from the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR). The recommendations, which received near-unanimous approval from an international team of experts, were published in July in Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.
In EULAR’s broad definition, physical activity includes exercise, sports, physical labor and ordinary chores like washing the car or gardening. According to the task force, physical activity is safe and effective for people with every type of arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis (RA), spondyloarthritis (SpA), and hip and knee osteoarthritis (OA) and should be a key part of standard patient care.
While living with arthritis can create stresses most people might not even think about, a technique called expressive writing may bring relief, both mentally and physically. For example, maybe you’re angry because pain is keeping you from joining friends on a shopping trip or playing with your kids – again. You may be stuck in anger.
“But in addition to anger, you probably also feel grief, loss and a lack of control over the circumstances,” says clinical psychologist Mark Lumley, PhD, psychology professor at Wayne State University in Detroit. “Expressive writing can help bring forward those less-accessible feelings besides anger that don’t always have a voice.
Writing this way reduces inner conflict and provides you a better sense of emotional balance – and perhaps even less pain – when you express those feelings on paper.”
Aromatherapy won’t cure your arthritis, but it may ease certain symptoms and help you feel better. For example, lavender is sometimes used to relieve anxiety and promote sleep. Some research shows aromatherapy may even have benefits for pain. Two small studies found aromatherapy massage with lavender or ginger and orange oils led to short-term relief of knee pain.
“It doesn’t work for everyone, but some have good outcomes,” says Sue Cutshall, a Mayo Clinic integrative health clinical nurse specialist. However, as with other “natural” treatments, you should exercise caution when using them; in rare cases, they can be hazardous.
Essential oils are the foundation of aromatherapy. The oils – extracted from plants, flowers, herbs and trees – are most often used for their scent, but they can also be mixed with lotions or alcohol and used as bath or massage products.
Most essential oils have few side effects or risks when used as directed, but some can cause harm. Undiluted essential oils can provoke skin problems, and citrus essential oils can increase sun sensitivity.
Keep your body moving if you have arthritis. Exercise can reduce joint pain and stiffness as well as improve strength and balance.
But what type of exercise is best? An elliptical trainer is a good option. This minimal weight-bearing stationary exercise machine mimics walking with a gliding motion.
“The elliptical machine can be a beneficial form of exercise for people with knee and hip arthritis because it provides both strengthening and cardiovascular benefits while exerting less force on the joints,” says Maura Daly Iversen, DPT, MPH, a spokesperson for the American Physical Therapy Association and Associate Dean of Clinical Education, Rehabilitation, and New Initiatives at Northeastern University in Boston.