Growing up, we were familiar with the song “These bones, these bones are dry bones” by the Delta Rhythm Boys. We probably never understood the gravity of the lyrics until later on in life when we understood that bones are connected. The skeletal system is an intricate system comprising of 206 bones and 360 joints.
The skeletal system plays a critical role in our bodies. It is responsible for supporting the body, facilitating movement, storing and releasing minerals (calcium and phosphorus) and protecting the internal organs, like the ribcage which protects the heart and lungs. The skeletal system through the red bone marrow is responsible for producing the red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets and, while the yellow bone marrow stores fat. When these functions are compromised, there is a need for medical attention.
Arthritis is the inflammation of the joints and can affect one joint or multiple joints. The common symptoms include pain, redness, heat and swelling of the joints, trouble moving around, fever, weight loss, breathing problems, tingling or numbness and, having a rash or itch.
Six types of arthritis exist with the common forms being Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic autoimmune disease that presents as an inflammation of the smaller joints such as hands and feet first, before affecting the larger joints. The body’s immune system, in this case, mistakenly attacks the cells that surround the joints resulting in swollen, stiff and painful joints. Possible complications that arise are inflammation of other areas such as the lungs, heart and eyes and an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
The second most common form is Osteoarthritis which is simply described as the wear and tear of joints. It frequently occurs in the hands, hips, and knees. The causal factors vary from joint injury or overuse, age (risk increases with age), gender (women are highly at risk), infections, overweight/obesity all through to genetics. Loss of stability, infection, and bleeding in the joint, as well as stress fractures, are among the complications that can arise.
Due to the pain and discomfort experienced by arthritic clients, physical activity is a no-go zone and this can result in an increased fat mass. Osteoarthritis was identified as the second leading cause of disability by the World Health Organization (WHO). It is estimated that one in three adults with arthritis report being inactive because of pain, fear of pain or lack of knowledge on the right exercise to do. Physical activity can be the antidote for many people as it can decrease pain and improve functionality by 40%. It is therefore important to identify what works for you.
Maintaining a healthy weight, engaging in physical exercise, early detection, reduced or avoidance of alcohol and cigarette smoking are among the ways to prevent and manage arthritis as well as improve the Quality of Life (QoL) among arthritic clients. In addition to this, it is important to maintain a calcium-rich diet because of the bone loss experienced and an anti-inflammatory diet to manage the symptoms.
The anti-inflammatory diet comprises of;
- Fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains
- Plant-based proteins (Legumes and Nuts)
- Fatty fish
- Fresh herbs and spices
- Unsaturated oils
Life is to be enjoyed at every stage, whether at 40 where the risk of osteoarthritis is experienced or at whatever age when rheumatoid arthritis can kick in. While at it, we need to make the right choices.
From Winnie’s Pure Health to you, we encourage you to have a glass of our Wheatgrass Powder or a mug of our Terere Afya Uji which possess anti-inflammatory properties that are excellent in reducing the pain experienced by arthritic clients.