Fit for the Road
Osteoarthritis and a sedentary lifestyle can go hand-in-hand
About 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. suffers from some form of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lupus or fibromyalgia, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Arthritis affects people of all races and ethnicities, but is more prevalent in women. While there are many causes for arthritis, or joint inflammation, research has shown that people with sedentary lifestyles and people who are obese or overweight are more likely to experience one of these types of arthritis.
Dr. Ronald Rush of Highway Healthcare in Texarkana, Texas, says inflammatory arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis usually runs in families. Though it can affect many joints in the body, joints in the hand suffer more often, especially when not in use. “You might think of it like the fluids in your engine or wheel bearings. On a cold day, the fluids are thick and slow to move but after a few miles the fluids thin out and the engine and bearings run smooth. The fluids in the joints, when not in motion, stiffen the joint.”
Rush says the treatment for inflammatory conditions is movement, which is not always possible for a trucker. He says another option is to discuss with a doctor the possibility of taking a class of drugs called NSAIDS.
Degenerative or osteoarthritis can have an inflammatory component, but it mostly occurs when joints become worn out and bone rubs against bone. Rush says truckers might notice this type of arthritis pain in joints they use often, such as shoulders, lower back, arms, wrist and fingers.
“The role of a sedentary lifestyle is mostly related to the osteo or degenerative arthritis. This is primarily due to weight gain, which stresses joints. A sedentary lifestyle also tends to weaken joint muscles and this leads to more direct stress on the joints,” Rush says.
All about arthritis
• Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. Symptoms are pain, swelling and stiffness, and the cause is breakdown of joint cartilage.
• Rheumatoid arthritis, an inflammatory disease characterized by pain, swelling, warmth and redness, affects the lining of multiple joints in the body and can affect organs, as well.
How do you deal with arthritis pain?
“Yoga has helped me a lot! I have the Yoga in Bed DVD and it works great! It’s mostly stretches but keeps the body from being so stiff, thereby easing the arthritis pain!” — Zoe W.
“Aspirin when it bothers me to the point that I can’t sleep. Otherwise I’ve lived with it for so long I ignore the pain.” — Dale S.
“When I need to I’ll use some ibuprofen, but I try not to use it all the time as it is tremendously hard on the stomach. Walking seems to help keep the joints worked up by providing lubrication. When I sit too much old Arthur seems to get restless.” — Jacques C.
Dietary changes that can help
• Decrease Omega-6 fatty acids: found in corn, sunflower, soybean, cottonseed oil; prevalent in snack foods, fried foods, margarines, other spreads.
• Increase Omega-3 fatty acids: found in fatty fish such as salmon and tuna.
• Eat more fruits, vegetables, nuts and drink tea. These foods can help reduce enzymes that cause joint inflammation.
(under doctor’s guidance)
• Non-inflammatory arthritis (osteoarthritis): physical therapy, weight loss, pain medications
• Inflammatory arthritis (rheumatoid): exercise, weight loss, pain medications, anti-inflammatory drugs
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