10 Tips to Put Away the Pain
Gardening? Forget about it. Your knees are too stiff and painful to get up and down to plant flowers. Playing with the grandchildren? Not an option when your hips ache all the time.
To supplement or not to supplement?
Manufacturers of glucosamine and chondroitin, marketed to relieve arthritis pain, claim that relief comes as a result of these supplements forming new cartilage and keeping it flexible. Although older studies suggested that they can relieve knee pain, a recent large study by the National Institutes of Health found no evidence to back up these claims. In fact, only a small group of study participants with moderate to severe pain found relief. Speak with your healthcare provider first if you’re thinking about taking glucosamine and chondroitin.
Arthritis pain and stiffness usually stem from joint inflammation, muscle strain and fatigue. Try these simple strategies to help keep discomfort in check:
- Move it. Inactivity actually worsens arthritis pain. So don’t sit or stand in the same position too long. Be active every day. Walking, water aerobics or gentle exercises like tai chi are great for people with stiff and achy joints.
- Lose it. Eating right and shedding excess pounds take undue stress off your joints. Choosing a diet low in saturated fats can also decrease your body’s inflammatory response, reducing joint inflammation.
- Go warm, go cold. Applying cold packs or warm compresses can relieve pain and stiffness. Cold packs work best within the first 24 hours of an injury or flare-up. Heat works well after that time.
- Rub it in. Massage eases pain and stiffness by helping your body produce painkilling endorphins. Be sure to choose a trustworthy professional who has experience with arthritis sufferers.
- Part ways with your pumps. Instead, look for a well-cushioned, well-fitting supportive shoe that gives your toes plenty of breathing room.
- Brace yourself. Braces for elbows, wrists, knees and other joints can take a load off your aching joints. Check with your healthcare provider to see whether a brace might benefit you.
- Extinguish the fire. Smokers face greater bone fracture risks because smoking can reduce bone mass. It can also lengthen your recovery time if you have joint surgery. Look into patches, inhalers and other quit-smoking aids so you can put the puffs behind you.
- Mind your Cs and Ks. Multivitamins contain essential vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins C and K and calcium, that can help keep joints healthy. Ask your healthcare provider to recommend one, and be sure to take it daily.
- Sail away. Vacations do wonders for stress, which can worsen arthritis pain. Plan a trip or even just a day or two away.
- Follow doctor’s orders. Take arthritis medicine as directed. If the drug causes side effects, don’t stop taking it before talking with your provider. The same goes for prescriptions you may feel aren’t working. Your provider can change your medicine or make other suggestions.
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