Ask the Doctors: Diet, exercise can help arthritis pain, inflammation

Arthritis can affect anyone. It’s estimated that up to one-fourth of Americans have some type of arthritis. It’s one of the leading causes of disability in the United States.

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Arthritis can affect anyone. It’s estimated that up to one-fourth of Americans have some type of arthritis. It’s one of the leading causes of disability in the United States.

Arthritis can affect anyone. It’s estimated that up to one-fourth of Americans have some type of arthritis. It’s one of the leading causes of disability in the United States.

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Dear Doctors: I am 67, with arthritis in my hands and feet. My daughter had a fall, and X-rays showed signs of arthritis in her foot. She’s only 34. What can she do to keep it from progressing or at least slow it down?

Answer: Arthritis referrs to a range of conditions that result in pain, stiffness and swelling affecting joints, most often in the hands, feet, hips and knees.

Though rare, the inflammation from certain types of arthritis also can affect the kidneys, heart, eyes and lungs.

Arthritis can affect anyone. It’s estimated that up to one-fourth of Americans have some type of arthritis. It’s one of the leading causes of disability in the United States.

The most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

The former is caused by wear and tear of the joints. The latter is an autoimmune disease: A person’s immune system attacks and damages the connective tissues.

Both have similar symptoms, which include stiffness in the morning and after inactivity, pain while walking, joint pain and swelling, tenderness and warmth in joints.

One step to try to manage the progression of arthritis: Maintain a healthy weight. That lessens the toll on the joints in the feet, hips and knees.

A healthful diet, emphasizing lean proteins and a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, is important. Limit foods known to kick up inflammation, like refined starches, added sugars, red meat and saturated fats and trans-fats.

And staying active lessens arthritis pain, keeps joints moving and increases range of motion. Aim for joint-friendly exercises enjoyable enough to do regularly like low-impact options such as walking, cycling, tai chi, yoga, Pilates, swimming and water aerobics. Strength training also helps, though, at least to start, it’s best for this to be done under supervision.

It would be wise to have at least one visit with a rheumatologist to assess her condition, establish a baseline from which to evaluate the progression of her arthritis and educate her on what to expect.

If she’s experiencing pain, a rheumatologist can help her explore options.

Dr. Eve Glazier is an internist and associate professor of medicine at UCLA Health. Dr. Elizabeth Ko is an internist and assistant professor of medicine at UCLA Health.

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