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Arthritis has been a main concern for many people, even the young ones, and “young” here means younger than myself (laughs). This issue is reserved for Q & A’s about the disease that affects about 1% of our world population, and these statistics are gradually increasing due to the serious lack of physical exercise.

Can you let me know about the symptoms of arthritis?

Dr. Khôi: The symptoms of arthritis include joints that are swollen, hot, red, and painful. Affected articulations look red and swollen, are painful, and hot to the touch.

I learned that there are hundreds of kinds of arthritis, please help explain further.

Dr. Khôi: That’s correct. There are nearly 200 kinds of arthritis, such as rheumatism, juvenile arthritis, arthrosis… Arthritis is caused by the wear-and-tear of the cartilage. Elderly people often suffer from this condition because they have been using their joints for so long; joints like elbows, knees, hips…

Young people can also have the disease if they exercise strenuously or participate in vigorous physical activities such as jogging and weight lifting. Juvenile arthritis is an auto-immune disorder, caused by the destruction of cartilage by antibodies created by the body itself. Though there are more than 200 kinds, arthritis is divided into 3 groups: degenerative diseases, inflammatory diseases, and connective tissue diseases.

Can you let me know the popular treatment for arthritis?

Dr. Khôi: Western medicine treats arthritis with anti-inflammatory medications. There are many of them on the market. Specialists can prescribe pills or injections. Those who have kidney diseases, high blood pressure, tuberculosis… should pay attention to side-effects of anti-inflammatory medications.

You can also take glucosamine in the natural form. To achieve results, a minimum dose of 1,500mg per day should be taken. Statistics show that improvement can be attained in 30-50% of patients after taking this medication. However, if no improvement is noted after 6 months to 1 year of using this medication, you should stop the medication immediately.

You can also take 2,000-2,500mg of Omega-3. Try to avoid “hot” food such as fried food which has lots of oil. Choose “cool” food,  those that contain high levels of antioxidant – such as strawberries, fish, vegetables…

It’s important to eat properly, and exercise regularly. When joints are affected by some adverse conditions, or even just for the sake of prevention, stop or decrease vigorous physical exercises that can harm joints such as racing. Substitute those activities with gentle ones like yoga. Science has proven that yoga helps prevent rheumatoid arthritis. Stretching, exercising, pedaling, or walking for  150 minutes per week, 30 minutes per day, for five days, is recommended. Do those activities for 2 days, then take a day off, or do them for 3 days, then take a day off. Swimming and aqua-gym, and water aerobic exercises (walking or jogging under water) help joints perform optimally by stimulating them to secrete more lubricant, which helps decrease abrasion. Light weight lifting and stretching using an elastic band can help tone muscles and lower the chance of getting arthritis. Physical activities such as gymnastics and tai-chi are also very beneficial for those with arthritis. You can learn and practice yourself by watching YouTube videos.

How do I know that I am over-exerting my joints?

Dr. Khôi: First, if you are overweight, try to lose some pounds. Being over-weight has very bad impact on cartilages and joints. You should not fear that you might hurt your joints and avoid exercising. Exercising gently helps to prevent and decrease pain.

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Dr. Khoi Nguyen

Dr. Khoi holds a Science Degree from the University of Toronto and received his medical degree in 1988. He is currently seeing patients at his private family medicine practice. In 2010, he received the Canada’s Citizenship Award for his numerous contributions to the community.

Bác sĩ Khôi tốt nghiệp ngành khoa học tại University of Toronto và tốt nghiệp y khoa năm 1988. Hiện nay ông đang làm việc tại phòng mạch tư chuyên về sức khỏe gia đình, và đã được vinh dự nhận giải thưởng Canada’s Citizenship Award năm 2010.