A Note From Dr. Qin: Arthritis

Arthritis pain increases significantly for patients during the rainy spring and early summer. Joint pain may be caused by a variety of problems, and many patients question if they have arthritis or should seek care from the hospital for joint pain. Our Medical Director, Dr. Qinxin Yan, describes how joints work, symptoms of arthritis, and how to cope with joint pain. The body’s joints are similar to a complex machine composed of multiple “parts”. Joint pain may be caused by a variety of joint problems including; injury, degeneration, inflammation, infection, etc. Arthritis is characterized by both joint pain and swelling. Some arthritis may cause joint deformity and dysfunction, impacting patient’s life and work seriously.

Apart from arthritis pain and swelling of the joints, there are some other associated symptoms such as: fatigue, weakness, fever, rash, subcutaneous nodules, diarrhea, mouth ulcers, dry mouth, tooth loss, dry eyes and so on. Additionally, many osteoarthritis patients are obese and suffer from gout. Patients commonly have the “three highs”; hyperlipemia, hypercholesterolemia, and hypertension. Heavy drinking and high meat consumption may lead to arthritis occurrence.

After receiving a diagnosis of arthritis, patients should adhere to their doctor’s medication instructions and participate in daily conditioning as follows:

1. Diet: Rheumatoid arthritis patients suffer from systematic inflammation which causes symptoms such as anemia, weight loss, and other manifestations of malnourishment and so must be sure to maintain adequate nutrition daily. Weight loss is paramount for patients with osteoarthritis in order to reduce the burden on joints. Patients with gout, which is associated with high blood sugar, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high uric acid, and other metabolic disorders need to reduce the high purine foods such as organ meats, fish intake, and strictly limit alcohol consumption. Patients with gout can eat more alkaline foods such as rape, cabbage, carrots and so on.

2. Environment: Environment is closely tied to the health of an arthritis patient. Patients should be sure to maintain good indoor ventilation and air, proper moisture levels, and warmth. To avoid spread of pathogens patients are advised to enhance physical exercise. By reducing exposure to cigarette smoke, ultraviolet radiation and chemicals patients are able to reduce the severity of arthritis.

3. Mood: Emotional states of patients greatly affect the immune system. Clinically, in most cases, autoimmune diseases emerge after experiencing an adverse life event. Maintaining an optimistic attitude and effective treatment of depression is important for reducing the impact of arthritis.

4. Long-term joint disease can cause joint mobility and muscle atrophy. Dirigation is an important way of recovering joint function. Factors to be taken into consideration include the timing of exercise, type of exercise, and strength of the patient. Joint mobility should be limited during the acute phase of joint swelling. If the pain and swelling is improved, joint flexion and extension and rotational movement should be conducted to increase range of motion. Whichever type of exercise is chosen the degree of intensity must be taken into consideration. If joint pain occurs, workout intensity and duration needs to be adjusted.

From Dr. Qin’s comments, it can be concluded that joint pain does not always indicate the presence of arthritis. Joint pain and swelling may subside with a change in weather. If pain and swelling is accompanied by other symptoms and does not improve, seek care at a hospital as soon as possible. Adherence to your doctor’s medication regime, diet, environment, attitude and exercise are essential in treatment of arthritis.