3 Bad Habits Can Make Arthritis Worse

Nov 13, 2020

If you suffer from the pain and stiffness of arthritis, you can benefit from an understanding of how your own daily habits and behaviors contribute to your condition. Watch out for these three bad habits which can make your condition harder to manage.

1. Drinking to Excess

Various research studies have associated alcohol consumption with both positive and negative effects on many kinds of ailments, including arthritis. For instance, one study discovered a correlation between beer drinking and higher risks of knee and hip osteoarthritis, while another found that red wine can actually ease symptoms.

Whatever the cocktail of choice, too much alcohol can make some people’s arthritis worse. Too much of any kind of alcoholic beverage can trigger flare-ups of gout, an agonizing form of arthritis caused by the buildup of uric acid in the joints. In fact, even moderate drinking can raise your gout recurrence risk by 41 percent .

Alcohol’s inflammatory effects can aggravate both degenerative joint pain from osteoarthritis and auto-immune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis may flare up in response to a particular type of whiskey or beer. Alcohol’s effects on immune function can also inhibit normal joint healing.

In your arthritis consultations, always discuss your alcohol intake honestly and accurately with your doctor, who can tell you whether cutting down your intake might improve your symptoms and overall wellness. If even moderate drinking seems to aggravate your arthritis, you may need to give up the habit entirely.

2. Smoking

You probably already know that smoking poses numerous health hazards, from cancer to heart disease. You should also know, however, that this one habit can turn a mild case of arthritis into a more debilitating one, thanks to its effects on cartilage, bone, and the body’s healing processes.

The type of arthritis doesn’t seem to make a difference. Osteoarthritis patients suffer accelerated joint damage because bone and cartilage tissues can’t rebuild themselves properly under the effects of tobacco. The lack of a gene that helps to detoxify tobacco smoke may also make rheumatoid arthritis symptoms worse.

The impaired healing that often plagues smokers can cause additional problems when those smokers opt for joint replacement or fusion surgery to cope with crippling arthritis. Surgeons must perform 10 times as many revision surgeries on smokers whose joint replacement surgeries didn’t heal properly the first time.

Since smoking offers no upside and plenty of downside as a daily habit, total cessation offers the smartest strategy for removing this contributor to your arthritis issues. At the same time, this behavioral change can help you reduce many other disease risks.

3. Overeating (or Eating the Wrong Things)

Unwise and/or excessive eating can impact the severity of your arthritis. Obesity increases the amount of pressure your weight-bearing joints must withstand. Over time, those extra pounds can accelerate degenerative damage and increase pain in the joints of your lower spine, hips, knees, ankles, and feet.

As noted above, uric acid buildup triggers attacks of gout if you drink too much alcohol. However, the purines that create uric acid also exist in high quantities in specific types of foods. Examples include organ meats, sugary foods and drinks, fatty fish, shellfish, game meats, and yeast.

Review your current dietary routine with your arthritis doctor. You may find that the right diet plan, paired with low-impact exercise and other helpful practices, enable you to shed extra pounds, easing the stress on your joints, while also giving you an opportunity to remove those gout-inducing foods from your menu.

Sarasota Arthritis Center can advise you on sensible lifestyle modifications, dietary changes, and recommended medical treatments for your particular type of arthritis. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment.

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