Living a healthy and active life with arthritis: Signs, symptoms and treatment options – Jersey’s Best

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 54 million Americans nearly a quarter of the US population suffer from some form of arthritis, a painful inflammation of the joints which can impair quality of life. Osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are among the two most common types, and when it comes to treating them, identification of symptoms and accuracy of diagnosis are key, said Michael Lewko, MD, medical director of St. Josephs New Jersey Arthritis and Osteoporosis Center in Clifton.

By contrast, Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease which affects 1.3 million Americans, most of whom (75%) are women, typically between the ages of 30 and 50 or over 60, Dr. Lewko said. RA is often associated with the presence of swelling in the hands and/or feet, making patients feel like theyre bound up or frozen, especially in the morning, said Dr. Lewko, who noted that RA symptoms also can include fatigue/low energy, fever, loss of appetite and depression as well as inflammation of the eyes, nerves/blood vessels, skin and other organs.

Top Tips for Treatment and Prevention

Treatment begins by understanding the conditions and complexities of each patient, such as their stage of life, work conditions and lifestyle, and bringing the best of ancient wisdom to modern medicine, said Dr. Lewko, a longtime practitioner of integrative rheumatology.

Following, Dr. Lewko shares top tips for preventing osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis or slowing their progression:

Stay Active. While patients with arthritis may complain that exercise hurts, its important to stay active and find exercises that will stimulate your bones, strengthen your muscles, tone your tendons and ligaments, and promote cardiovascular health, Dr. Lewko said. For those with osteoarthritis, Swimming is great for load-bearing joints and tai chi enhances balance and mind-body spirit. For those with RA, Inflammation is the major factor and we need to bring down the fire causing all the havoc; walking, yoga and aerobic exercises will help get blood flowing and boost circulation. For both OA and RA, stretching and physical therapy can bring relief from pain while enhancing strength.

Overall, there have been many technological advances in the field of arthritis that the medical community can use to treat patients, but there isnt really a magic bullet, Dr. Lewko said. We want patients to be empowered to help their own body heal itself and to be an active part of the treatment and prevention. As a team, we can achieve it together.

St. Josephs Health World-Class Care

St. Josephs Health is a world-class hospital and health care network supported by leading and renowned physicians, nurses and care teams and operates a full continuum of care, including a regional tertiary care medical center, a state-designated childrens hospital, an acute care hospital, rehabilitation and long-term facilities, and comprehensive home care.

St. Josephs Health has locations at 703 Main St. in Paterson, (973) 754-2000, and 224 Hamburg Turnpike in Wayne, (973) 942-6900, and can be visited at http://www.stjosephshealth.org. The New Jersey Arthritis and Osteoporosis Center is located at 871 Allwood Road in Clifton and can be reached by calling (973) 405-5163.

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Living a healthy and active life with arthritis: Signs, symptoms and treatment options - Jersey's Best

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