That old friend, “Arthur”

Published 10:56 am Monday, June 26, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Jack Benny famously said, “I don’t deserve this award, but I have arthritis and I don’t deserve that either.”

Arthritis is the “inflammation of a joint, usually accompanied by pain, tenderness, swelling, and stiffness, resulting from infection, trauma, degenerative changes, metabolic disturbances, or other causes. It occurs in various forms, such as bacterial arthritis, osteoarthritis, or rheumatoid arthritis.” Growing up, I often heard my grandmother and her friends refer to arthritis as their old friend Arthur. In my opinion, there’s not much friendly about old Arthur.

This disease affects more than 58 million adults in America, including my mother who battles rheumatoid arthritis.  

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis, is marked by damage to the cartilage in the joint — in extreme cases having bone-on-bone contact causing inflammation, severe pain and restricted movement. 

In rheumatoid arthritis, our immune system attacks the joint capsule that encloses the joint. As a result, the synovial membrane becomes inflamed, and in the most extreme cases, the disease destroys the cartilage and bone in the joint.

With age and genetic-related arthritis, prevention is out of our control. But with lifestyle changes earlier in life, we can reduce the risk of developing some forms of the disease. 

Include omega-3 in your diet. This fatty acid reduces inflammation in our bodies. Eating three and a half ounces of wild trout, salmon, sardines, or mackerel twice a week can maintain healthy levels of omega-3 in our system. Flaxseed and chia seeds are excellent vegan sources of omega-3.

Maintain a healthy weight. Obese and overweight people increase their risk of developing arthritis by sixty percent. Twenty-three percent of heavy people and thirty-one percent of obese people will develop arthritis. Losing just one pound can relieve four pounds of pressure on your joints.

Exercise works wonders. Physical activity helps to remove unhealthy weight, strengthen muscles that stabilize our joints, and protect them from excess wear. Two twenty-to-thirty-minute resistance training sessions a week will significantly improve your joint health. But if it’s been a while since you’ve done regular calisthenics, it is best to consult a doctor first.

Avoid injury. While none of us intentionally look to get into accidents, proper warm-up routines and proper safety equipment, and supportive shoes can help us avoid them.

Treat infections. Viruses and bacteria do more than cause coughs and sore throats. Some of these invaders can settle in our joints if not adequately treated. For example, have you ever heard of septic arthritis? It’s a painful affliction caused by staph bacteria. 

Watch your blood sugar. Forty-seven percent of people with diabetes have arthritis, and sixty-one percent of those suffering from arthritis have an increased chance of developing diabetes. High blood sugar can lead to persistent low-grade inflammation. And something called reactive oxygen species found in people with diabetes has been found to trigger inflammatory proteins called cytokines.

If you do start to develop arthritis symptoms, see your doctor. Arthritis is a progressive disease; the longer you put off treatment, the more damage you can do to your joints. Your provider may be able to suggest treatments or lifestyle interventions that preserve your mobility.

If you have a healthcare topic of interest or want to learn more about St. Luke’s Hospital, send me a note at Also, please follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, or visit our website at