1. Move! Be active. Sometimes moving and exercise may not be the first thing you want to do when arthritis aches. Multiple studies show that physical activity is one of the best ways to improve your quality of life and decrease arthritis symptoms. Exercise increases energy, strengthens muscles and bones, and improves flexibility. Muscles protect and support joints affected by arthritis. If you’re experiencing upsurge in arthritic pain, it may be better not to exercise until the pain subsides.
2. Eat a well-balanced diet. Studies show that a variety of nutrients may help ease arthritis symptoms. Foods rich in vitamin C, especially fruits and vegetables, may help. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish and fish oil, may also help relieve pain. Focus on healthy foods and eating habits. Consult your primary care physician or dietician for diet guidelines.
3. Aim for a healthy weight. Being overweight puts undue stress on weight-bearing joints such as your knees, spine, hips, ankles, and feet. Losing weight can ease symptoms of arthritis. Make small changes each day that help you eat smaller portions and burn more calories.
4. Alternate between heat and cold on affected areas. By increasing blood flow, hot compresses can ease pain and stiffness. Cold compresses reduce swelling. Trial heat versus cold packs to see what works best.
5. Get a good night sleep. Good sleep helps with the pain of arthritis and allows the body rest. To sleep better. Try to go to bed at the same time every night. Discomfort in bed because of arthritis can be alleviated with pillows to take the pressure off painful joints. If you have frequent sleep problems, talk to your MD.
6. Keep pain under control. Over-the-counter medications can reduce arthritis pain. Acetaminophen (Tylenol and store brands) can be helpful. Talk to your physician for guidance.
7. Other alternatives can include: acupuncture, massage, joint braces, assistive devices, gentle yoga and more. Stay positive, have hobbies that you can do that do not inflame arthritis pain.
Amy Hileman, PTA