Arthritis is a common health complaint that causes inflammation of joints throughout the body, and that comes in over 100 different forms. When we talk about arthritis, however, most people are talking about osteoarthritis, a form of the disease related to general wear and tear and common in older adults. But what can be done to manage the symptoms? In many cases, arthritis – not just osteoarthritis, but also many of the other variations – can be managed through basic lifestyle changes.
If you’re struggling with arthritis pain, begin with these four simple steps. Not only can they help reduce your discomfort, but they also form the foundation for overall wellness.
Mind Your Weight
One of the most common causes of osteoarthritis, specifically in the knees, is being overweight. Carrying too much weight puts strain on the joints, wearing down the cartilage and causing the bones to rub together. In order to minimize the pain associated with movement, it’s important to manage your weight carefully. Eating a healthy diet and beginning a gentle exercise routine can help you bring down your weight, reduce your pain, and improve your mobility. And once your weight is stabilized, it’s important to maintain these healthy habits.
What should you do if arthritis makes it difficult for you to exercise? Low impact activities like swimming can be a good alternative to walking or biking. However, if the pain makes it difficult for you to perform daily activities like climbing stairs or crossing a parking lot, you might also consider regenerative therapy using stem cells to boost joint healing. Stem cell therapy can help the body rebuild damaged cartilage and get you back on your feet.
Vary The Temperature
If you’ve ever sprained your ankle or pulled a muscle, you’ve likely used a heating pad or cold pack to reduce the pain and inflammation. The same practice is also useful when dealing with arthritis pain. Applying heat to the joint increases blood flow to the area, delivering nutrients and oxygen to the tissues, and aiding in healing. On the other hand, when inflammation is at its peak, cold therapy can pull blood away from the area, minimizing swelling and numbing the pain.
Be Smart With Supplements
Many arthritis patients rely on over the counter pain relievers to manage inflammation and discomfort, but there are also natural solutions to these issues that can be easier on the body. Consider adding supplements to your diet, such as turmeric, which has been shown to block inflammatory enzymes, and fish oil, which are converted by the body into resolvins, a chemical with anti-inflammatory properties. Those with rheumatoid arthritis can also benefit from immune boosting Cat’s Claw, gamma-linolenic acid supplements, and ginger.
Manage Your Mental Health
Living with daily pain can be hard on your mental health, causing depression, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping, yet few arthritis patients consider how pain and mood are related. Recently, though, research has shown that attending to the mental health aspects of pain can actually ease the symptoms. With this in mind, arthritis patients should consider practicing meditation or other mindfulness activities that can reduce stress and quell anxiety. It’s also important to build a support system and to stay involved with friends and hobbies, as maintaining a sense of normalcy can help lift your mood and minimize your arthritis symptoms.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, nearly 50% of adults over age 65 have been diagnosed with arthritis, so knowing how to manage this disease should be a top priority. Luckily, by practicing healthy habits beginning early in life, including managing your weight and eating a nutritious, balanced diet, you can minimize your risk of developing arthritis later in life. Though not all forms of arthritis are preventable, most are manageable with lifestyle changes. The key is to support your joints so that they’ll keep supporting you well into old age.