If you’re living with arthritis, you know firsthand the discomfort and limitations that can accompany the condition.
From chronic joint pain to exhaustion, arthritis can put a damper on daily life. But there are many ways you can help manage the symptoms and, possibly, the disease.
1. Exercise for Arthritis Relief
Low-impact exercises, such as walking and swimming, can have a positive effect on your arthritis pain. Such activities can improve muscular strength, flexibility and mobility, as well as pain levels.
But before starting an exercise program, talk with your doctor or physical therapist. He or she can set up an exercise plan tailored to your needs. Also, don’t push yourself too hard — listen to your body and take it slow.
2. Use Heat and Cold Therapy
Heat or cold therapy can help relieve arthritic pain. Soaking in a hot bath or taking a warm shower may help ease joint pain and stiffness. Heating pads, hotpacks and warm paraffin wax baths may also help.
Cold therapy, such as applying an ice pack to the affected area, can reduce inflammation and numb pain. Cold packs, ice massage and coolant sprays may also be beneficial.
3. Eat Arthritis-Friendly Foods
So-called anti-inflammatory foods can help reduce inflammation. Such foods include walnuts, flaxseeds, blueberries, salmon, avocados and olive oil, among others.
On the flip side, some studies have found that certain foods and additives may increase inflammation and worsen arthritis pain — these include processed meats and soft drinks.
4. Make Use of Assistive Devices and Aids
Canes, walkers, wheelchairs and other assistive devices can help improve mobility and reduce stress on joints.
In addition, there are other aids that can make daily life easier, such as jar openers, long-handle shoehorns and reachers.
5. Take Medication and Supplements
Medication is a common approach to managing the pain and disability associated with arthritis. Many anti-inflammatory pain relievers are available, including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
For those with rheumatoid arthritis, disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) are also used to slow progression of the disease and improve joint function. Of course, talk to your doctor to see what’s best for you.
Also consider dietary supplements — some studies have found that omega-3 fatty acids, glucosamine and chondroitin may help reduce arthritis pain.
Easing Arthritis Pain Is Possible
Arthritis can be painful and debilitating, but there are ways to ease your pain and manage your symptoms. Be sure to talk to your doctor about exercise plans, dietary changes, medication and other treatments that may be helpful.