For the last two weeks, I have been enjoying my pool walking. I go down to the Summerset 4 pool and do my laps in the sunshine with several lovely ladies who go at the same time. The few men there are lovely, too!
Grandpa sits in the shade for moral support, since he prefers his early morning walks, while I go back and forth, moving my arms and walking for about an hour and a half. I pat myself on the back for sticking to this, as I feel my body getting stronger and taking away the pressure on my back, knees and shoulders. I will never be bikini ready ever again, but it is a very positive direction for someone with arthritis.
The doctor told me this is what I have, but I really didn’t know much about it. I just took it for granted that it was not good, and I needed to do something about it. She suggested swimming or any other water-related exercise for the buoyancy, providing a good way to avoid pounding on my joints and back. Plus, it’s fun. Whoever thought I would look forward to exercising?
A lot of people, young and old, say they have some form of arthritis. I would need a book to cover the more than 100 arthritis-related diseases, so I will share what I found out about the two most common types - osteoarthritis and rheumatoid.
Basically, osteoarthritis causes the cartilage (the hard, slippery tissue covering the ends of bones where they form a joint) to break down. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that first targets the lining of those joints.
More people are afflicted with osteoarthritis than any other kind. The wear and tear of the joints by aging, overuse, accidents or severe weight can add extra stress on your joints, causing injury and pain. The knees, hips, spine and feet are all weight-bearing and targeted by arthritis, which can cause enormous pain.
It often comes on gradually over months or years, but you don’t feel sick or have the fatigue that comes with some other types of arthritis. You may hear a grating sound when the roughened cartilage on the surface of the bones rubs together and creates possible painful spurs or bumps on the end of the bones, especially on fingers and feet.
Too bad we can’t pull into an auto repair shop for our shocks!
In summation, you lose the shock absorbers that break down over time, resulting in stiffness, pain, warm and swollen areas and trouble doing ordinary daily functions, depending on what joints are affected.
The other common form is rheumatoid arthritis. Also known as RA, it is an autoimmune disease where the immune system targets the joints, leading to inflammation and joint damage if untreated. About 20 percent of people who have rheumatoid arthritis get lumps on their skin called rheumatoid nodules, which often form on the joints that receive pressure, such as knuckles, elbows or heels.
There is no proven cause of RA, but some experts believe our immune system can react after a virus or infection. Some scientists think two of the body’s chemicals that are related to inflammation, tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and interleukin-1, trigger other parts of the immune system.
Like osteoarthritis, symptoms of RA come on gradually, but are more severe, as it affects multiple joints causing stiffness, swelling and pain. For the most part, it targets the smaller joints in the hands, wrists, fingers and feet.
There is no cure for arthritis, but some symptoms can be eased with diet, exercise and supplements. The internet is filled with ways to help minimize and possibly deter the problems related to it, but sadly, it is not a reversible situation.
As a strong proponent of natural remedies, I have tried a lot of different things like calcium pills, George’s Aloe Vera water, turmeric, Move Free enhanced and glucosamine.
For the diet, salmon or other omega 3 fatty fish, whole grains, fruit (especially dark berries) and green leafy vegetables and avocados are great and they help a lot. They are edible anti-inflammatories. Avoid sugar, carbohydrates, processed foods, too much dairy, candy, soda and too much alcohol (which can lead to gout), and use olive oil instead of butter. Basically, if it tastes too good, it’s too bad!
Don’t deny yourself a treat now and then, but research other foods and supplements that may be more to your liking for your daily diet.
I still have arthritis, but between a healthier diet and my water walking, I do feel better. If you are a senior on Medicare, you can get a Silver Sneakers card, which entitles you to free access to some of our local gyms that have indoor pools. That will be me, still in the one-piece suit this winter.
But for now, off to the pool!