You may think of arthritis as the ‘wear and tear’ condition commonly seen in older people. The fact is, there are more than 100 different types of arthritis, with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis being the most common, and it can affect people of all ages.
More than 54 million people in the U.S. are living with some form of arthritis, and it is the leading cause of work-related disability. If you or someone you know is suffering from one of the many forms of arthritis, check out these lifestyle tips that may help to ease some common arthritis symptoms, including joint pain, swelling, and stiffness.
Stay active and keep fit. Studies show that physical exercise may help reduce arthritis pain and fatigue. Talk with your healthcare provider about the types of exercise that may be best for you. He or she can also help you learn to pace yourself so that you don’t overdo it.
Rest when you need to. When your joints feel painful or are swollen or stiff, take some time to rest and conserve your energy. Ask a family member or friend to help you with your chores and activities.
Eat a healthy diet. Though there is no specific anti-inflammatory diet to follow, studies show that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables may help reduce inflammation.
Maintain a healthy weight. Weight loss may help reduce pressure on joints and ease pain.
Meditate. Chronic pain studies showed that meditation had positive effects on pain, quality of life, and functional status. Medical professionals believe meditation may help people with arthritis manage their pain and symptoms of depression.
Get a massage. A study showed that just 60 minutes of massage once a week helped to ease knee pain due to osteoarthritis.
Improve your sleep habits. Poor sleep may worsen arthritis-related pain and fatigue. To help improve sleep habits, try:
- Keeping the bedroom cool, dark, and quiet.
- Avoiding caffeine and strenuous exercise in the evening.
- Relaxing in a warm bath or doing relaxation exercises before bedtime.
- Talking with your healthcare provider about other ways you can improve your sleep.
Try using arthritis-friendly gadgets. Assistive products may help with everyday tasks. Look for specially designed versions of items, including:
- Doorknob adapters.
- Kitchen tools.
- Gardening tools.
- Walk-in bathtubs.
- Pill cases.
- Office supplies, such as scissors.
Apply heat or cold treatments. Heat treatments may help with circulation, stiff joints, and tired muscles. Consider using heating pads and taking warm baths. Cold treatments may help to reduce swelling. Examples include taking ice baths and putting a gel cold pack, ice bag, or a bag of frozen vegetables on the painful area.
Stay informed. Don’t be afraid to ask your healthcare provider questions about arthritis or your treatment. Use books, magazines, and online resources to learn more about arthritis and stay up to date on new developments in medicine and treatment options.
Keep working with your healthcare provider. Talk with your healthcare provider about changes in your arthritis symptoms. This can help him or her determine the right treatment for you. Always take your medication as prescribed and be sure to report any health changes or medication side effects to your healthcare provider.
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