5 STEPS TO DEALING WITH YOUR OSTEOARTHRITIS
Joint pain and stiffness of arthritis may worsen with age. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t treatment options or helpful changes you can make in your life.
Osteoarthritis, caused by years of normal wear and tear, is no fun. Its aching, stiffness and swelling can be painful, frustrating and sap your mood. And although there aremedical therapies – pills, rubs and injections – many times they only offer temporary or limited benefits and may cause side effects.
That’s why it’s best to learn all you can about your options and consider combining treatments. “Learn everything you can learn,” says Dr. Epler. “And keep learning. The information will help you to control the situation and make decisions that are best for you.”
Weight Control. Carrying excess weight puts added stress on joints, especially your knees, hip and spine. Two-thirds of all obese adults will develop arthritic knees during their lifetime. And shedding just 10 pounds of this excess weight is enough to rid the knees of about 40 pounds of pressure; dropping 15 pounds will cut your knee pain almost in half.
Exercise. A recent Cochrane review of 32 studies found that exercise relieved the pain of knee arthritis as effectively as medication. Regular exercise can help keep your joints flexible and lubricated. Added to aerobic activity, strength training will aid in building the supporting muscles. Aim for at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise a day, five days a week, plus two days of strength training each week.
Heat and cold. Heating pads or ice packs can be helpful in relieving arthritis pain. Try a moist, hot pad or a warm, damp towel; or relax in a warm bath or shower. Ice packs may help reduce the acute pain and swelling associated with arthritis.
Assistive devices. To improve your ability to perform daily tasks and help protect your joints, canes, walkers or crutches can help take the load off painful hips or knees. Orthotic shoe inserts can help arthritic knees in some cases.
Tap into the power of your mind. A positive attitude goes a long way toward easing pain and discomfort and moving on with your life. Instead of focusing on your disabilities, focus on what you can do. If a task seems overwhelming, break it down into smaller, more manageable tasks. Balance your activity with adequate rest. And rely on the kindness of friends and family; a emotionally supportive social group can help relieve stress and has far-reaching benefits for your health.
You may also want to read:
Exercise Your Way to Health http://epler.com/blog/exercise-your-way-health
Five Steps for Staying Strong http://epler.com/blog/five-steps-staying-strong