This month we're looking at arthritis and the ways in which it affects our joints. Arthritis causes damage to the joint structure and surrounding tissue, causing considerable pain and physical disability. Half a million New Zealanders will have the disease at some stage in their lives. And "it can affect anyone, at any age, at any time - even babies!" according to Arthritis New Zealand.
What exactly is Arthritis?
A normal healthy joint has a rubbery substance called cartilage that covers the end of each bone and provides a smooth slippery surface against which the joints move. It also acts as a shock absorber to reduce the impact of everyday physical activity. However with arthritis, the joints are swollen and stiff, and there is often joint deformity, pain, redness and heat. There are more than 140 different forms of arthritis, the most common are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
In osteoarthritis (OA) changes in the joints cause the cartilage to break down. Large weight-bearing joints, like hips, knees and spines, are affected the most. OA comes on gradually, over many years, and being overweight can lead to osteoarthritis because of the added pressure on the joints.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an auto-immune disease, which means the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues. The joint lining becomes inflamed and swollen and fluid builds up in the joint cavity. In severe RA, the joints become deformed - affecting people’s ability to move. RA symptoms tend to develop more quickly than with OA and the disease occurs more in younger people, most commonly between the ages of 30 and 55.
Managing your arthritis
Lifestyle modifications – such as weight loss, exercise and physical therapy - are core components of OA management. Medicines are the cornerstone of RA management, however a good balance between rest and exercise is also important.
How we can help
“Although there is no cure for arthritis, a wide range of effective medicines are available to treat the swelling and pain, and for modifying the course of the disease (in the case of RA),” advises Clive.
“Some medicines are available only on prescription; some need our recommendation before they can be sold. Remember to always talk with your doctor or pharmacist about any medicines you take for arthritis, so you are taking the best one for your condition and not doubling-up. The main thing is not to suffer in silence. There is help available.”
Our new happy face
Look at our happy home! We're almost there with our new look and have been so pleased with the overwhelmingly positive feedback from our customers. If you want to keep up with our makeover, check out our Facebook page.
When communities work together
The Q’eswachaka bridge in Peru is rebuilt every year by the local communities over three days. What they achieve is an inspirational example of communities working together.
Check out this video to see how they use traditional methods and hard work to create a bridge between their two communities.
Clive's Happy Thought