5 Tips for Managing Arthritis Pain
Arthritis is a condition involving inflammation of the joints that can cause debilitating pain. There are many types of arthritis; however, two of the most common include rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA).
RA is an autoimmune disease and systemic condition in which the immune system attacks healthy joint tissue throughout the body. Whereas OA – a more common form of arthritis – is a degenerative condition, the result of general wear and tear on the cushion of cartilage in our joints that results in bones grinding against each other causing inflammation, damage and pain.
If you suffer from arthritis, your primary care physician has likely prescribed medication. But there are self-care steps you can follow at home to ease your arthritis pain. Try these five.
Watch your weight. Our joints, especially our feet, knees and hips, carry the brunt of our weight and are key in managing our mobility capabilities. It’s a no-brainer, then, that packing too many pounds puts increased pressure on the joints, causing inflammation that can increase arthritis pain flareups. Managing your weight is vital to help ease arthritis pain, improve mobility and prevent ongoing joint damage, as well as your overall well-being.
Move more. Low-impact exercises can help keep your joints mobile, prevent inflammation, increase flexibility and strengthen joint muscles that provide support – all of which can help control your arthritis pain.
Apply heat and cold. For chronic pain such as arthritis, try heat. A hot shower can help ease stiffness and arthritis pain often experienced in the mornings after waking up. If morning pain and stiffness is a regular problem for you, try sleeping with a heated blanket or heating pad. For a bout of pain, applying an over-the-counter pain relief cream that uses capsaicin — a compound that causes the burning effect in hot chili peppers — an ingredient might help.
However, if you’re pain is acute, such as soreness after working out, you’re better off with cold relief. This can be placing a frozen gel pack or even a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a dish towel to your painful joints for 20 minutes to help ease swelling and pain. Remember never to apply ice directly on your skin. Another option is a pain relief cream that uses methyl salicylate (or oil of wintergreen) as an ingredient, as it creates a cooling sensation.
Eat a healthy diet. Foods with anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties and rich in vitamins D and K may help reduce arthritis pain. Many of these foods are part of a Mediterranean-style diet and include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, olive oils, nuts, seeds and cold-water, fatty fish like salmon. Following a Mediterranean-style diet also means giving up highly processed foods high in sugar, salt and preservatives, which are known for causing inflammation.
Consider alternative therapies. Acupuncture and meditation are two methods deemed to help ease arthritis pain. Discuss these options with your doctor who can help you find an accredited acupuncture practitioner or meditation teacher.