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Health Conditions Solutions Guide
Reach vibrant wellness and feel your best! We've got answers here for you on healthy, effective ways to deal with eight of the most common health conditions. From back pain to high blood pressure to digestion disorders, find out the causes, symptoms, best treatments and lifestyle solutions to help you heal.
What causes arthritis?
Although the symptoms are similar, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis have different causes. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks joint tissue, causing chronic inflammation. Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage in your joints deteriorates over time, causing the ends of your bones to rub against each other. Both types of arthritis are more common in women than in men and usually occur after age 40. Past joint injuries, genetics and obesity are also contributing factors.
• Joint stiffness
• Loss of flexibility
• Grating sensation (can also be audible)
• Bone spurs
• Red, swollen hands
• Rheumatoid nodules (bumps of tissue on the arms)
• Weight loss
• Rheumatoid arthritis
• Paget's disease of bone
• Septic arthritis
There is no cure for either form of arthritis, but treatment options can range from simple over-the-counter or prescription pain relievers or anti-inflammatories, immunosuppressants (in the case of rheumatoid arthritis), physical therapy and chronic pain classes to the use of devices to immobilize joints or surgery to replace joints or fuse bones together. Alternative therapies include acupuncture, massage, light therapy and supplementing with glucosamine, chondroitin or a mixture of avocado and soybean oils. Certain foods and herbs have also been shown to reduce arthritis-related pain, including:
• Devil’s claw
• Boswellia serrata
• Thunder god vine
• Evening primrose
• Black currant
• Fish oil
Painful, inflamed joints might make exercise an unappealing option, but gentle movement may be one of the best ways to combat arthritis-related stiffness and fatigue. Experts at Mayo Clinic recommend swimming, water aerobics, t’ai chi, yoga and walking because theses activities strengthen muscles and promote weight loss without straining tender joints. Use a heating pad, hot water bottle or warm bath to relieve pain and stiffness, and an ice pack to soothe muscle spasms and reduce inflammation. Avoid foods that can aggravate arthritis, including tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, bell peppers, excessive alcohol, tobacco and refined sugar.
What causes fibromyalgia?
Researchers are still trying to uncover the specific causes of fibromyalgia. The most popular theory is that people with the condition have a lower threshold for pain because receptors in their brains are overly sensitive due to repeated nerve stimulation. Factors that influence fibromyalgia may include genetics, past infections or illnesses, and past physical or emotional trauma. Fibromyalgia is especially prevalent in women and the risk of symptoms increases with age. The condition occurs in approximately 2 percent of the U.S. population.
Stress, physical activity, weather conditions and even time of day may influence symptoms, which include:
• Widespread muscle pain, often described as a “dull ache”
• Tender points, including the back of the head, shoulder blades, top of shoulders, front of neck, upper chest, elbows, hips and knees
• Sleeping disorders, including insomnia and sleep apnea
People with fibromyalgia may also suffer from:
• Chronic fatigue syndrome
• Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
• Post-traumatic stress disorder
• Restless legs syndrome
• Rheumatoid arthritis
Solutions for fibromyalgia
There is no “cure” for fibromyalgia, so treatment generally focuses on minimizing pain and other symptoms using analgesics, antidepressants or anti-seizure drugs, or through physical therapy. Cognitive behavior therapy can help reduce stress that sometimes triggers fibromyalgia symptoms. Acupuncture, chiropractic care and massage therapy have also proved somewhat successful at relieving pain and reducing fatigue.
According to Mayo Clinic, “self-care is critical in the management of fibromyalgia.” Doctors recommend that sufferers:
• Reduce stress. This can include practices such as yoga or meditation.
• Get enough sleep.
• Exercise regularly.
• Watch your diet. Avoid caffeine and strive to eat healthy foods.
What causes heart disease?
What causes digestion disorders?
Solutions for digestion disorders
3. Make your bedroom conducive to sleeping. Turn the alarm clock away from you so you don’t stress about the time while you’re trying to fall asleep. Use eye masks, room-darkening shades, comfortable pillows, soothing music or white noise machines. Or try Gaiam's TwiLight Mini, blue light therapy proven to restore your body's natural sleep patterns.
5. Eat the right foods. Eat a sleep-inducing snack, such as whole-grain crackers or bread; nuts, oatmeal or cherries; or milk together with whole-grain foods. Avoid eating a heavy meal right before bed, which can cause heartburn.
Check out more tips from Dr. Rouse's get-to-sleep-fast checklist.
High Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is measured by how much blood is pumped by your heart into your arteries. When arteries narrow, the heart has to work harder to pump blood into the body and blood pressure rises.