By Tehniyet Azam

According to Arthritis foundation, Arthritis is a very commonly misunderstood disease. Arthritis is not a single disease; it is an informal way of referring to joint pain or joint disease. There are more than 100 different types of Arthritis and related conditions. People of all ages, sexes and races can get Arthritis, and it is the leading cause of disability in America. More than 50 million adults and 300,000 children have some type of Arthritis. It is most common among women and occurs more frequently as people get older.

Common Arthritis joint symptoms include swelling, pain, stiffness and decreased range of motion. Symptoms may come and go. They can be mild, moderate or severe. They may stay about the same for years, but may progress or worsen over time. Severe Arthritis can result in chronic pain, inability to do daily activities, and difficulty with walking or climbing stairs.

Arthritis can cause permanent joint changes. These changes may be visible, such as knobby finger joints, but often the damage can only be seen on X-ray. Some types of Arthritis also affect the heart, eyes, lungs, kidneys, and skin.

There are three main types of Arthritis; inflammatory, degenerative, and infectious. I was diagnosed with Inflammatory Arthritis. During my youth, I had the misconception that older people get this disease, so when I was diagnosed I was a little scared. Am I old? Having Inflammatory Arthritis at the age of 28 is not fun. It started with a little pain in my feet that will not go away. Suddenly, I woke up to all my fingers and knees swelling up, my feet were hurting and I was unable to move them. I stayed in bed and thought, “What is going on with me?” It was a usual occurrence for me from that day forward.

My doctor prescribed some over the counter pain medications at that time and some blood tests to confirm the diagnosis. It has been almost two years. I am on steroids for this disease that interfere with my life everyday. When I wake up, I have to make sure that I have 15 extra minutes for my joints to start moving. I cant stand or walk for longer periods of time, and if I wear heels, it hurts. As a woman, being unable to wear heels is not enjoyable. In order to help prevent the pain, I have made some lifestyle changes that have worked out successfully. The pain has dropped. Doctors say it’s the steroids, but I like to believe it’s the change I have made.

I started doing aqua aerobics so that I can exercise without feeling pain. I avoid eating red meat. I only eat chicken. Fish is very good, too. I eat leafy green vegetables, lentils, fruits, and fruit/vegetable juices. I try to squeeze fresh juice every day. I try to avoid anything that has preservative. Drinking a lot of water is the key. I try to avoid any sugary treats, which is very hard, but very helpful. What I noticed about my body is that I lost weight. Being overweight is the trigger to my pains, and my overall health is becoming better. When the body gets stronger, the immune system fights back the foreign particles that might hurt the body. Some days are a struggle, but having a positive approach towards life is the key. It doesn’t take away the physical pain, but it gives you the strength to fight and endure the pain. Inflammatory Arthritis is a life style change.

Not everyone can understand the pain you go through and can give you very judgmental comments. Take care of yourself and focus on you.

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