4 Tips for Managing Osteoarthritis
It’s estimated that about 15 percent of all people on Earth are living with osteoarthritis (OA), a common form of arthritis that often affects joints in the spine, knees, hands, and hips. Producing symptoms that can range from mild to debilitating, the progressive inflammatory condition can’t be reversed or completely stopped. However, there are steps you can take to make it easier to enjoy what matters most in your life if you have OA.
Get Regular Exercise
It may seem counterproductive to exercise when you have discomfort related to osteoarthritis, but not doing so can weaken core muscle groups and place added pressure on joints already susceptible to fractures. Regular exercise, which can involve daily walks, water aerobics, or yoga, also boosts the production of endorphins. These are “feel good” hormones that have effects similar to mild pain-relievers.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Extra weight can place added pressure and stress on joints. If you are carrying around excess weight, consider working with a dietician or asking an orthopedic specialist for recommendations. Avoid fad diets and focus on adopting healthy eating and exercise habits. Even losing 10-15 pounds can make a difference in how OA affects your joints.
Eat Nutritious, ‘Bone Healthy’ Foods
The foods you eat and the ingredients you use to cook can have an impact on your joints. Numerous studies suggest arthritis-related symptoms may be eased with low-fat dairy products, nutrient-rich fruits and veggies, and foods with omega-3 fatty acid levels. Ginger, cayenne pepper, garlic, and cinnamon are among the spices that naturally reduce inflammation. If you can’t get sufficient nutrients from diet alone, supplements may be beneficial.
Treat Yourself to a Good Night’s Sleep
Your body’s natural healing processes take place during the deeper stages of sleep. So, if you’re not getting enough sleep or you’re regularly tossing and turning and waking up, tissues around your joints are more likely to remain irritated. Improve your odds of enjoying productive sleep by choosing a supportive mattress and strategically placing pillows in a way that takes pressure off of painful joints. Also, get into the habit of sticking to a regular sleep schedule.
If you reach a point where these OA management tips aren’t effective, an orthopedic specialist may suggest injections with corticosteroid medications around the affected joints. Partial or complete joint replacement (arthroplasty) is another possibility. Take comfort in knowing that many of the surgical techniques used today are less invasive, which often means shorter recovery periods.