Getting Old & Creaky?
It seems as soon as we hit a "certain" age, we begin to conveniently blame our age for many things that have nothing to do with how many years we've been alive. This "certain" age changes, depending on what ailment is bothering us on any given day. The truth is, many of the aches and pains we blame on age has more to do with how we've cared for our bodies than it does with the number of years we've spent in our bodies. Especially true when it comes to our creaky old bones and joints. Admit it, we all know there are some 30-year-olds reading this that have already said: "I just can't move as quickly as I used to." At some point, we all say something similar to that. We don't mean to-it just slips out before we can stop ourselves from sounding like our parents.
All kidding aside, there are more than 100 kinds of arthritis; the broad term of arthritis means joint inflammation. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 50 million Americans are afflicted, and 27 million have osteoarthritis, which is by far the most common form of arthritis. Sometimes called degenerative joint disease, osteoarthritis accounts for most of the hip and knee replacement surgeries performed in the United States. As with other types of arthritis, women are at higher risk than men for the condition.
Osteoarthritis affects structures throughout the joint. Healthy cartilage allows bones to glide over one another and absorb energy from the shock of physical movement. The cartilage, the slippery tissue that covers the ends of bones in joints, begins to break down and wear away. This causes bones to rub together, causing inflammation and pain. This causes bones to change shape and lose motion of the joint. Over time, the joint loses its normal shape. Also, bone spurs may grow on the edges of the joint. By the time a person has symptoms from osteoarthritis and it is no longer just a disease of cartilage. Bone has changed, muscles across the joint have often weakened and there is occasionally inflammation in the lining of the joint.
Unlike some other forms of arthritis, osteoarthritis only affects joints, not internal organs. Rheumatoid arthritis-another common form of arthritis-affects other parts of the body besides the joints. It causes inflammation and may make people feel sick, tired and sometimes feverish, among other symptoms.
Some younger people get osteoarthritis from a joint injury, but osteoarthritis most often occurs in people over 40. In fact, at least 80 percent of people over age 55 have X-ray evidence of osteoarthritis in at least one joint, and approximately one-third have symptoms of the disease. Since the number of older Americans is increasing, so is the percentage of people with osteoarthritis. Before age 55, more men are affected (often the result of a sports or work injury), while after age 55, osteoarthritis is more common in women.
Osteoarthritis affects each person differently. In some, it progresses quickly; in others, the symptoms develop over many years. Researchers do not know exactly what causes the disease, but suspect a combination of factors within the body and in the environment. Genetics, weight and stress on the joints from certain occupations, hobbies or activities may affect the disease and how a person reacts to the disease.
Usually, osteoarthritis develops by joints aching after physical work or exercise. Osteoarthritis can occur in any joint but most often occurs at the joints in the hands, hips and knees.
Hands: Osteoarthritis of the fingers is the one type of the disease that seems to be predominantly hereditary. More women than men have it, and risk increases after menopause. Small, bony knobs appear on the end joints of the fingers. The base of the thumb joint is also commonly affected by osteoarthritis. Medications, splints or heat treatment can help this kind of osteoarthritis.
Knees: The knees are among the body's main weight-bearing joints. They are also among the joints most commonly affected by osteoarthritis. Medications, losing weight, exercise and walking aids can reduce pain and disability. In severe cases, knee replacement surgery may be required. Research studies show that being overweight increases the risk of developing osteoarthritis of the knees and show that injuries to the knee are a major cause of disease.
Hips: Osteoarthritis in the hip can cause pain, stiffness and severe disability. People most often feel the pain in their groin, front of thighs or knees. Hip replacement is sometimes necessary if the pain is severe and not helped by other treatments.
Can Arthritis Be Prevented?
Unfortunately, there isn't any clear evidence that arthritis can be prevented, but there are powerful arguments. This includes being "kind to our joints," which can lessen the aches and pains that come with "getting older." Staying active and keeping your joints limber and flexible will pay dividends throughout your lifetime. Investing in you, through fitness and health, is a wise choice at any age!
Member Spotlight: Sarah Pattison
Mrs. Pattison is married and had two college age children. "We have one dog, unless my son is home from college, and then there are two more to turn the house upside down," she said. She works for a third party administrator as a claim consultant for self-insured clients handling their own workers compensations claims.
Sarah participates in three group classes per week and runs three days per week. "I never thought I would have come from where I started to where I am now," she said. She attends Jason Belz's bootcamp three times per week. "He is an awesome trainer and knows how to motivate people. He can have a group of people all at different levels doing the same thing, and push us all at the same time getting us all to give more than we knew we could give. His energy is contagious and it makes you want to work harder and push yourself harder." She also attends Zumba class on Sunday with Rodney.
When asked why she stays at Prairie Life, she responded with, "the people at Prairie Life are like another family-everyone from the staff to the other members take the time to say hi, see how you are doing, and if there is anything you need." There also seems to always be enough equipment for everyone!