Category Archives: Uncategorized

preparing for natural disasters

Having a Disaster Plan Is Important When You Have Arthritis

Fires, floods, hurricanes, snowstorms, tornadoes – even just a power outage can result in a difficult, if not disastrous, situation if you aren’t prepared. In some cases, you can leave before it hits, but whether you stay or go, you should be ready, especially if your mobility is limited or you have special needs.

Having a plan also can reduce anxiety, which could trigger a flare if you have an autoimmune condition, like rheumatoid arthritis, leaving you vulnerable to injury and infection. “High stress levels make rheumatic conditions worse; having an established emergency plan can only reduce stress,” says Jennifer Hootman, PhD, an epidemiologist in the Arthritis Program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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family dynamics and arthritis

When Arthritis is a Family Affair

Alberta Dillihay’s children began urging her to stop working soon after her 2010 rheumatoid arthritis (RA) diagnosis. Stress from her job as a public works supervisor in a busy office 45 minutes from her home, combined with finding the right arthritis treatments, could affect her health, they argued.

“I was and am glad they were concerned and want to help. But sometimes it’s frustrating because you feel you’re being treated like a kid,” says Dillihay, 63. “You can still do what you need to do.”

When a mom has arthritis, the family dynamic often changes. “That means who’s in charge shifts, as does who’s taking care of whom,” says Eve Wittenberg, PhD, a senior research scientist in the Center for Health Decision Science at Harvard University in Boston. “There are downsides, but there can also be huge satisfaction to changing a relationship with a child or partner; the ability to let others help can strengthen bonds,” says Wittenberg, who studies family dynamics in chronic illness. She and Nancy Ruddy, PhD, a clinical psychologist at Montefiore Health System’s College of Medicine in New York City, offer this advice. 

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joint friendly vacation tips

Don’t Let Stress Get in the Way of Your Vacation

Sometimes you’ve just gotta get away and reboot for good mental and emotional health. Even a weekend getaway can help you recover from stressful work. A longer vacation may lead to greater psychological well-being and life satisfaction – if you can detach from your routine, plan your own schedule, do something challenging and relax, according to one study. But vacations can be stressful, and excess stress can worsen chronic pain when you have arthritis. Send vacation stress packing with these tips.

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air plants gardening with arthritis

Make Gardening a Breeze With Air Plants

Springtime brings out the gardener in us all. But it can be tough on the joints. Air plant gardening requires no shovel, no soil, no watering can, but the results can be spectacular. Just ask Carolyn Kosanouvong-Walker of Fresno, California, who began air plant gardening as a creative way to ease stress and take her mind off the pain of her juvenile arthritis.

“What I love about air plants is that they are simple to manage and come in different sizes and types,” says Kosanouvong-Walker, 45, who was diagnosed at age 3.

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bread and pasta shopping for arthritis

Arthritis Diet Power Shopping: Bread and Pasta

Research has shown that eating a lot of refined carbohydrates, especially white flour and having a low-fiber diet increases inflammation. Getting 25g or more of fiber in your diet may also reduce the risk of colon and other cancers, lower cholesterol and possibly help regulate blood sugar. Stocking up on whole-grains products are good for overall health as they naturally have plenty of vitamin B-6, vitamin E, magnesium, folic acid, copper, zinc, and manganese. And studies also show that people who eat three or more servings of whole grains a day lower their risk of heart disease. Because high-fiber foods can help you to feel full faster, eating the right amount may make it easier to achieve and maintain a healthy weight which is important for people with arthritis.

Have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity? Try high-fiber gluten-free grains such as amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat and cornmeal.

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arthritis workout moves on the go

Arthritis Workout Moves On-the-Go

Whether by plane, train or car, travel can be a pain – literally. Especially if you have inflammatory arthritis or osteoarthritis. Less oxygen and nutrients reach your joints, which contributes to pain and stiffness. “Sitting for long stretches slows your circulation,” says Lisa M. Higginbotham, an occupational therapist and clinical rehab manager at a Cleveland Clinic hospital in Ohio.

Sluggish circulation also raises the risk for swelling and potentially dangerous blood clots, she adds. Moving at least every hour keeps joints mobile. Plus, “contracting your muscles pumps blood back to the heart,” says Eric Robertson, PT, director of Kaiser Permanente Northern California Graduate Physical Therapy Education. These moves done while seated can also help:

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arthritis diet shopping canned foods

Arthritis Diet Power Shopping: Canned Foods

Meats, soups, fruits or vegetables, the canned variety offers many benefits. You’ll still get the inflammation-fighting omega 3 fatty acids in canned salmon, sardines and tuna. Canned vegetables and fruits are often processed shortly after they are picked, and nutrient losses don’t occur during shipping, on the grocer’s shelf, or in your home. Their portability makes them great for an arthritis diet on the go. They last longer and can save you money.

And there are some veggies that may be more beneficial in canned form rather than fresh. Canned tomatoes, for example, are a better source of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant, because cooking makes them easier for the body to absorb. According to a comparative analysis of canned, fresh, and frozen fruits and vegetables by the University of Illinois Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, fiber content is as high in canned products as in their fresh counterparts and the canning process may actually increase calcium levels in fish as compared to its freshly cooked variety.

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