An estimated 50-70 million adults have been diagnosed with some form of arthritis worldwide, making it a leading cause of chronic disability among older people. The most common type is osteoarthritis, which gets worse over time and commonly affects the joints near the base of the thumb, spine, hips, knees, neck, shoulders, and hand.
Arthritis can be debilitating, but if you have it, you can do many steps to improve your condition and enjoy a good quality of life.
It may sound counterproductive, but arthritis patients who have joint stiffness should perform a series of exercises to improve their range of motion. Warming up the joints before performing exercises that put a strain on them will keep your muscles and bones strong, which will help you maintain good posture and prevent back pain.
Daily walking is one of the best exercises for people with arthritis because it’s gentle on the joints and helps strengthen the legs, hips, and back. The Centers for Disease Control recommend 30 minutes or more of moderate activity per day for adults with arthritis, depending on the severity of the symptoms.
If you have a permanent limited range of mobility, staying in assisted living facilities can help. These places usually have an on-staff nurse, so they can stay current with patients’ medications and check for side effects. The facility will also tailor their daily recreation plans to the patient’s abilities, which makes it easier for them to participate in the appropriate exercises.
2. Maintain a Healthy Diet
Some arthritis symptoms are caused by dietary deficiencies related to certain vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that alleviate pain and inflammation while keeping bones strong.
Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with osteoporosis (a condition where the bones become thin, brittle, or misshapen) in many arthritis patients because it reduces calcium absorption, which is important for bone formation.
Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause several issues, including increased risk for heart disease and osteoarthritis. This vitamin helps metabolize homocysteine, which is linked to plaque build-up in the arteries while also helping form collagen that keeps bones strong.
Zinc deficiency may result in arthritis because it plays a role in bone formation and protecting cells from oxidative damage, maintaining a healthy immune system, and regulating insulin levels.
You can take these as supplements, with your doctor’s approval, but you also need to improve your diet. Try to eat a lot of fresh vegetables and fruits in general, because they’re rich in the vitamins and minerals you need.
3. Manage Pain Effectively with Medication
People with arthritis sometimes feel overwhelmed by the number of medications they need to take multiple times per day for it. Make sure that your doctor is aware of all your medications so that he or she can prescribe replacements that will help manage your symptoms without having too many side effects.
Your primary care physician may refer you to an orthopedic specialist who might have some more advanced therapies available for patients with osteoarthritis. You should ask your general practitioner about these options so you can find one that’s right for you and start living more comfortably again.
A doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications to relieve painful symptoms associated with arthritis, but this doesn’t mean you can’t find it from other sources as well! Some people find relief in alternative medicine like acupuncture, which can also help with stress and sleep problems.
4. Improve Posture
In some cases, arthritis pain is caused by poor posture resulting from muscle weakness or tightness caused by prolonged periods of sitting or standing without taking adequate breaks. Getting up every 20 minutes will help stretch your muscles and prevent fatigue associated with prolonged muscle use.
Keeping your back straight, shoulders down, and head up can help you distribute your weight evenly. Don’t stand for too long in one position, because it will cause pressure on the lower back.
5. Maintain a Healthy Weight
It’s not uncommon for people with arthritis to be overweight, but it can make their symptoms worse. Excess pounds put a lot of stress on joints and cause stiffness because the extra weight makes muscles work harder to provide support. On top of that, being obese means you have a greater chance of developing other health problems related to obesity such as heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer.
Obesity can impair your mobility as well as affect your emotional state where you feel lonely or isolated because you’re having trouble doing things with friends or family members that used to be easy for you.
Your doctor may prescribe medications for this problem if diet and exercise aren’t enough by themselves. You should always consult a doctor before starting any new weight-loss program, but keep in mind that losing just 10 percent of your body weight can decrease the strain on your joints by 25 to 50 percent.
There are many ways to manage arthritis pain and live a healthier life. You can take supplements, eat a healthy diet, improve your posture, and maintain a healthy weight. Talk to your doctor about which treatments might be best for you, and don’t be afraid to try alternative therapies like acupuncture if you’re not getting the relief you need from medications.