Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis and as the population ages, more and more people will be diagnosed with this chronic condition. Approximately one in five adults have osteoarthritis. Joint pain and joint stiffness are two commonly reported symptoms of people living with osteoarthritis. There are many tips to relieve the joint pain and joint stiffness associated with osteoarthritis so that the disease doesn’t prevent you from enjoying life.
What is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is sometimes called degenerative joint disease. Osteoarthritis refers to the inflammation that occurs because of the degeneration of cartilage that surrounds a joint. Common areas that osteoarthritis affects are the: hands, feet, spine, hips and knees. There are many causes of osteoarthritis including: increasing age, trauma, injury, genetics and disease. Common symptoms of osteoarthritis include joint pain and joint stiffness. There is no cure for osteoarthritis; treatment focuses on reducing joint pain and joint stiffness which will help you maintain proper functioning of the affected joint.
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1. Eat right – eating a healthy diet, including lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, will help you to maintain a healthy weight. If you are over-weight, losing weight will help to reduce stress on your weight bearing joints. This will help to reduce the chance of injury.
2. Exercise –you may think that physical activity will increase your joint pain and joint stiffness but exercise is one of the best ways to help your osteoarthritis. Exercise will help you to maintain a healthy weight, increase flexibility and decrease joint stiffness, decrease joint pain, strengthen muscles (including your heart!) and improve your mood. Be sure to include cardiovascular exercise, flexibility exercise and strengthening exercises for the best benefit.
3. Get out and have fun! – this may seem simple, but for people with osteoarthritis, sometimes the joint pain and stiffness results in a decreased interest in activities. Make sure to get out and enjoy time doing activities that you enjoy – gardening, sports, get-togethers with friends, etc.
4. Use Ice and Heat – alternating ice packs with hot packs can provide much relief. Heat will increase blood flow to the area relieving joint stiffness and joint pain while ice will reduce joint inflammation.
5. Get enough sleep – you’ll feel better and have a better mindset if you get enough sleep. Taking a hot shower or bath before bed will help to relieve sore muscles and may help you sleep better.
6. Take your medication as prescribed – over-the-counter and prescription medication can help to reduce the symptoms of osteoarthritis but it’s important that you follow the label on how often to take them. Speak to your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions about your medication.
7. Use alternative therapies – seeing a registered massage therapist, acupuncturist or chiropractor in combination with tradition medical treatment may help to provide further relief from the joint stiffness and pain that you may be experiencing.
Utilizing these tips to help manage the joint pain and joint stiffness that comes along with a diagnosis of osteoarthritis will help to ensure that the osteoarthritis doesn’t control your life.