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Understanding Arthritis What is Arthritis? Arthritis (Arthr = joint, itis =inflammation) is used to describe different types of inflammatory or degenerative disease that damage the joints. Common symptoms are varying degrees of pain, stiffness and swelling of the joint. Acute types of arthritis are thought to be the result of bacteria disease and are treated with antibiotics. The common chronic types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis arthritis (OA) – is the most common form of arthritis particularly among the older generation. It is not fully understood how osteoarthritis is caused. It can be genetic (often runs in families) or caused by injury/ inflammation as a result of the way you move, your job (e.g. carpet fitters, roofers etc) or just because you are unlucky. It is thought that normal use of joints leads to the release of enzymes which break down cartilage (the material that cushions and protects the ends of bones) and usually this is replaced, however, with OA the cartilage is destroyed more quickly than it can be replaced often leading to continuous pain and discomfort. OA can be very painful and the most commonly affected joints are the hands, knees, hips and spine, though not all at once. Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) – not as common as OA and usually appears between 30 – 40 years of age (though it can occur at any age and is more common in women than men). RA is an auto immune disease where the body’s immune system attacks its own tissue, though the reasons why are not fully understood. This leads to inflammation of the joint and eventually the underlying bone and cartilage is eroded and the bone ends may become fused and deformed.

What can be help people with arthritis? -

Sensible, gentle physical activity Keeping your weight down Anti inflammatory medication Reducing salt in your diet Cutting down on alcohol Eating a balanced diet

How may exercise and physical activity help people with arthritis? If you have arthritis, research has shown that it is essential for you to exercise. Exercise is important to keep the joints healthy and by moving the joints it will help to keep them fully mobile. Joint movement also encourages the transport of essential nutrients to the cartilage and promotes the removal of waste products.

It may affect many joints particularly the fingers, wrists, elbows, knees, ankles and feet. People with RA will have periods when the disease is more painful (exacerbations) interspersed with periods free from pain (remission)

Nexus Community is a division of Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL). GLL is an employee-owned charitable social enterprise that exists for the benefit of the community and is a non-profit distributing organisation. We are proud to work with and provide services on behalf of:

We operate an equal opportunities policy

Email: info@nexuscommunity.org Visit: www.nexuscommunity.org


Understanding Arthritis Exercise will help: • range of movement and joint mobility • pain management • to increase muscle strength • give stronger bones – which can help protect against osteoporosis • weight control • improve balance and co-ordination • reduce stress • improve sleep patterns • increase energy levels • improve self-esteem • improve arthritis symptoms If you have RA it is advisable not to exercise the affected joints when the arthritis is active but wait until their remission. However, gentle activity involving areas that do not have arthritis is recommended.

Types of exercise that will help people with arthritis Range of motion exercises – these exercises will help to stop stiffness and deformities. As a result of pain some people are not able to do their daily living activities, such as housework, dressing, and these exercises help to maintain a good range of movement. Strengthening exercises – these are exercises that strengthen muscles. You need strong muscles to support the damaged joints. This will make the joint more stable and help you to move more easily and with less pain Endurance exercises – these are exercises that will make your heart work a little harder than normal and will help to prevent cardio vascular disease. If your joints are sore, water based exercise is an excellent way to build up strength, exercise the heart, and ease sore joints and muscles. Starting an exercise programme if you have arthritis can be daunting. In the first instance consult your GP or physiotherapist before starting out and then take the opportunity to get expert advice from the Nexus instructors, who will be able to design a programme specifically for you. For further information please don’t hesitate to contact Lesley Simpson Nexus Health Promotion Manager lesley.simpson@nexuscommunity.org Or visit www.arc.org.uk for more information

Nexus Community is a division of Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL). GLL is an employee-owned charitable social enterprise that exists for the benefit of the community and is a non-profit distributing organisation. We are proud to work with and provide services on behalf of:

We operate an equal opportunities policy

Email: info@nexuscommunity.org Visit: www.nexuscommunity.org


Arthritis