Living With Arthritis

Living With Arthritis

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    AHealthyWomen answered
    Contrary to conventional wisdom, using a joint with arthritis may not lead to more damage. In fact, the opposite may be true. Not only does regular exercise help you maintain a healthy weight, it builds muscle, and strong muscles can protect your joints.
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    ANatalie E. Azar, MD, Rheumatology, answered
    How does diet affect arthritis?

    Diet can play a role in arthritis; there are certain foods that promote inflammation in the body, making arthritis symptoms worse. Watch as rheumatologist Natalie Azar, MD, discusses which foods fight inflammation, and which are more inflammatory.

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    ANatalie E. Azar, MD, Rheumatology, answered
    Can exercise reduce arthritis pain?

    Exercise can reduce the pain from arthritis, both in the short term and over time, as strength is developed. Watch as rheumatologist Natalie Azar, MD, discusses the factors to consider when choosing activities and why it's important to mix it up.

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    ANatalie E. Azar, MD, Rheumatology, answered
    What therapies can improve arthritis?

    Therapies for the pain of arthritis include medications like acetaminophen and a spectrum of anti-inflammatory drugs; exercise therapy is also recommended. Watch rheumatologist Natalie Azar, MD, discuss medical and natural treatments for arthritis.


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    Maintaining a healthy weight is an important strategy for staying healthy and managing a variety of chronic illnesses. About 66% of adults with doctor-diagnosed arthritis are overweight or obese. Research suggests that maintaining a healthy weight reduces the risk of developing arthritis and may decrease disease progression. A loss of just 11 pounds, for people who are overweight, can decrease the occurrence of new knee osteoarthritis, and a modest weight loss (5%) can help reduce pain and disability.

    The presence of the CDC logo and CDC content on this page should not be construed to imply endorsement by the US Government of any commercial products or services, or to replace the advice of a medical professional. The mark “CDC” is licensed under authority of the PHS.
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    ALeo Galland, Integrative Medicine, answered
    Drink tea, black or green, if you have arthritis. The notion that green tea is healthier than black tea has not been borne out by clinical trials in humans. Green tea may have anti-cancer effects, but black tea has a better track record in fighting inflammation. You need at least 3 cups a day, unless you're a smoker, in which case no amount of tea will work for you.
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    ALeo Galland, Integrative Medicine, answered
    If you have arthritis, don't worry about carrots. All the publicity given to the Glycemic Index of foods (the tendency for a food to raise blood sugar) has given carrots a bad rep. The carotenoids in carrots, anti-oxidants that create the orange color, and the fiber, make carrots an anti-inflammatory food. Carrots are more nutritious cooked than raw.
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    ALeo Galland, Integrative Medicine, answered
    If you have arthritis, eat fish 3 times a week, especially wild salmon, if it's available and affordable, but don't fry your fish; frying interferes with the benefits. You may want to consider supplementing your diet with the natural anti-inflammatory, fish oil. The amount of fish oil you need is not fixed; it varies from about a teaspoon (4000 milligrams) to a tablespoon (12,000 milligrams) each day, depending upon what else is in your diet. The more meat, poultry, egg yolk or dairy fat you eat, the greater your need for fish oil, because these foods contain arachidonic acid, a pro-inflammatory omega 6 fatty acid. The more you use vegetable oils other than extra-virgin olive oil, the more fish oil you need.
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    ALeo Galland, Integrative Medicine, answered
    If you have arthritis, choose your oils wisely.

    Extra-virgin olive oil has natural anti-inflammatory benefits, whether raw or cooked. Recent research has identified the antioxidant called oleocanthal, which is only found in extra-virgin olive oil. Oleocanthal is a natural anti-inflammatory with potency strikingly similar to that of the drug ibuprofen in inhibiting an enzyme that causes pain and inflammation. Studies have shown that people with inflammatory arthritis experience a decrease in pain and stiffness of their joints when treated with fish oil. Even better pain management results have been observed when, in addition to fish oil, extra-virgin olive oil is part of the natural anti-inflammatory diet.

    Flaxseed oil and flaxseed meal (ground flaxseed) also have significant anti-inflammatory effects, but should not be cooked, because cooking destroys some of the beneficial omega-3 fats. Other vegetable oils, like corn, safflower or sunflower oils, can increase inflammation and counteract the benefits of anti-inflammatory nutrients in your diet.
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    ALeo Galland, Integrative Medicine, answered
    Eat at least 8 servings of fruits and vegetables every day if you have arthritis. Choose those with bright or deep colors like cherries and berries and sweet potatoes that contain natural anti-inflammatory nutrition. Don't believe the old saw that citrus fruits and "nightshade" vegetables like tomatoes and peppers cause arthritis. Oranges and tomatoes have been shown to have significant anti-inflammatory effects in some people.

    Most of the patients with arthritis I've seen do better eating lots of vegetables and fruits. Tomatoes, incidentally, seem to have more of anti-inflammatory effect when they're cooked or juiced, but most other vegetables and fruits are better if they're fresh.