What should you know about arthritis?
Although there are a range of types of arthritis, two of the most common are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is when the cartilage between your bones wears away, causing the joint between two bones to rub. Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammation of the joints, causing sufferers to feel pain, discomfort and difficulty when moving around. It can affect people of all ages, not just older people. There is currently not a cure for arthritis, however by managing the condition affectively it can help to ease your symptoms and prevent your arthritis from getting worse.
What can you do to improve your care?
Although exercising when you have arthritis may be off putting, it is important to stay active in order to keep joints moving and reduce stiffness, increase muscle strength, and gain more energy. Exercise will also help you to maintain a healthy weight, putting less pressure on your joints. It can also stimulate the body to release endorphins, which are natural chemicals that can give you the ‘feel good factor’.
It is important to do suitable warm up and cool down exercises and to not overstrain your body when exercising. Activities that seem to be beneficial for those who have arthritis include walking, cycling, swimming, dancing, yoga and pilates.
Check with a doctor before beginning a new exercise, especially if you have moderate to severe arthritis, a heart condition or high blood pressure.
If an exercise gives you a sharp pain, especially in the joint itself, stop doing it immediately. Before trying that particular exercise again, check with a doctor or physiotherapist.
A form of moderate exercise that is not too physically demanding is walking. The Bracknell Forest Ramblers’ route offers a 26 mile walking trail around the countryside.
Similarly, the East Berkshire Rambler’s group offers the opportunity to join a group of people who take part in walks throughout the East Berkshire area on Wednesdays and Sundays. For further information please visit the East Berkshire Ramblers’ website.
The Bracknell Forest Council website also provides an A-Z of sports and recreational activities that are available locally and the Bracknell Forest Leisure Centre offers a range of physical activities and facilities for all ages.
Along with exercise, eating healthily will help you to maintain a healthy weight. NHS Choices provide more detailed information about a balanced diet for people with arthritis.
Alcohol has high levels of calories in it. Cutting down on alcohol will, therefore, also help you to maintain a healthy weight. Excessive drinking can also cause you to lose your balance more easily. This means you are more at risk of taking a knock or a fall, which can worsen your arthritis. Try to follow the alcohol guidelines of no more than 3-4 units a day for men and no more than 2-3 a day for women. You can calculate alcohol units on the NHS website.
If you are looking to lose and/or manage your weight Slimming World can help you to maintain a balanced and nutritional diet and reach and stay at a healthy weight by providing weekly local weight loss support groups.
If you meet set criteria then you may be eligible for a free referral to Slimming World. Referrals are made via Bracknell Forest GP practices, stop smoking service and children centres. This will enable you to access a free 12-week course to Slimming World if the programme criteria are met. For further information please email Public.Health@bracknell-forest.gov.uk.
A physiotherapist is a trained specialist who helps to keep your joints and muscles moving, helps ease pain and keeps you mobile. You can find your own Physiotherapist in Bracknell Forest or your GP can refer you.
For more information about how to manage your arthritis or how to support someone with arthritis please visit the Arthritis Care UK website.
Contact details for local services
East Berkshire Ramblers’ Group
Membership and Recruitment Contact: Neil Adamson
Bracknell Leisure Centre
Tel: 01344 454203
Tel: 0844 897 8000
Halsa Chiropractic and Physiotherapy
2 Albert Road
Tel: 01344 302992
The Physio Studio
Egremont, Newbold College
Tel: 01344 861891
Royal County of Berkshire Health & Racquets Club
Tel: 01344 489 398
Specialist Health Services- Physiotherapy
Skimped Hill Health Centre
Tel: 01344 867077