Want to know if you’re going to develop arthritis? Whip out your hands. Compare your ring fingers to your index fingers. If the first are longer than the second, you’re doomed. You are almost twice as likely as everyone else to develop osteoarthritis. If they aren’t, well, you’re still probably going to have arthritis.
The current prevalence of arthritis is so high that everyone should be worried about it. One point three million people have rheumatoid arthritis; 27 million have osteoarthritis. 3 million have or have had gout and 294,000 children under the age of 17 have juvenile arthritis. By 2030, every one of these numbers will have jumped dramatically, fueled by the nation’s aging and fattening population.
To prevent arthritis, exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight. To treat arthritis, do the same, with the addition of pain medication. Many arthritis sufferers forgo activity once the joint pain and swelling becomes unbearable, but as they do, the resulting excess weight and weakened muscles add to the discomfort.
The key is determining which exercise program is best for you. This will vary depending on the type of arthritis you have and your health in general. Your doctor will be able to provide you with specifics, but know that your routine should include flexibility, strengthening and endurance exercises. You’ll want to start out slowly, adding to the duration and intensity as your abilities improve. If you experience undue pain or discomfort, again talk to your doctor so that you can make necessary adjustments. Whatever you do, don’t get discouraged and don’t give up. Exercise will ease the pain and give you more mobile options, possibly making you the minority in an achy majority.
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