Stop Thinking You Can’t Exercise
Many people who have arthritis are afraid if they’re active they’ll have more pain and so they just don’t get any exercise. This may be one of the biggest misconceptions about arthritis.
At the same time, it’s an ironic idea because inactivity actually makes pain and disability from arthritis worse over time, while regular exercise keeps joints moving and prevents stiffness, strengthens the muscles around the joints, and improves mobility.
So if you’ve been sedentary out of fear you’ll make your arthritis worse, talk to your healthcare provider to make sure it’s OK to exercise. Then start slowly with gentle, joint-friendly movements. It’s fine to respect your arthritis pain, but you don’t have to let it stop you.
What Is A Joint And How Does It Work
A joint is where two or more bones meet, such as in the fingers, knees, and shoulders. Joints hold bones in place and allow them to move freely within limits.
Most of the joints in our body are surrounded by a strong capsule. The capsule is filled with a thick fluid that helps to lubricate the joint. These capsules hold our bones in place. They do this with the help of ligaments. These are a bit like very strong elastic bands.
The ends of the bones within a joint are lined with cartilage. This is a smooth but tough layer of tissue that allows bones to glide over one another as you move.
If we want to move a bone, our brain gives a signal to the muscle, which then pulls a tendon, and this is attached to the bone. Muscles therefore have an important role in supporting a joint.
How Stress Affects Arthritis Pain
Feeling stressed, depressed, and overwhelmed by arthritis pain is common, but such emotional reactions may actually make your arthritis pain feel worse and inhibit you from doing what you know you need to, like exercising and taking medications.
To help you control your stress levels:
- Take a vacation if and when you can just bring along your medication and all your doctor’s information.
- Express your feelings in a journal, diary, or blog several times a week.
- Turn to your religion or another form of spirituality for support and guidance.
- Get enough rest, at least eight hours each night, and take a short nap when you need it.
- Meditate a few times a week.
- Read, relax, enjoy a hot bath, and just savor some private quiet time alone.
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Stop Avoiding Mobility Aids
A cane, walker, or wheelchair may be necessary for some people with arthritis to stay independent and get around on their own. Understandably it can be tough to think about needing some sort of mobility aid, but if you do need one and don’t use it you risk missing out on things you would enjoy.
A cane or wheelchair doesn’t define who you are, and no one will judge you or think less of you for using one. In fact, you’ll probably be admired for getting out there and having fun in spite of needing a little help.
What Are The Symptoms Of Artritis
Experience of osteoarthritis symptoms can be different, says Dr Benjamin Ellis, a rheumatologist at Londons Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and senior clinical policy adviser at Arthritis Research UK.
We all have aches and pains, but you need to be concerned if these everyday ones dont seem normal or dont go away. Our bodies go through a natural cycle of wear and repair. But as we age, this doesnt work as effectively and that is why we suffer osteoarthritis.
Typical symptoms include pain in joints as well as stiffness and swelling, often after prolonged use of a joint.
The joint itself might become lumpy. Some people suffer redness and general fatigue. Neither X-rays nor blood tests are needed to diagnose osteoarthritis.
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Treatments For Arthritis In The Ankle
Ankle arthritis doesnt have a cure. But many treatments are available that may help relieve pain and improve function.
The goal with these treatments is to help patients function and do their daily activities with less pain, says Narandra Bethina, MD, a rheumatologist at the University of Vermont Medical Center and assistant professor at the Robert Larner, MD College of Medicine at the University of Vermont in Burlington. This can also result in better quality of life.
Use Hot And Cold Therapy
Heat and cold treatments can help relieve arthritis pain and inflammation.
- Heat treatments can include taking a long, warm shower or bath in the morning to help ease stiffness and using an electric blanket or moist heating pad to reduce discomfort overnight.
- Cold treatments can help relieve joint pain, swelling, and inflammation. Wrap a gel ice pack or a bag of frozen vegetables in a towel and apply it to painful joints for quick relief. Never apply ice directly to the skin.
- Capsaicin, which comes from chili peppers, is a component of some topical ointments and creams that you can buy over the counter. These products provide warmth that can soothe joint pain.
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Physical And Occupational Therapy
Physical therapy helps you to restore joint function through specific exercise. This can help alleviate pain for many patients. Activities like cooking and bathing can sometimes be difficult to perform and may cause pain. Occupational therapy will help you to learn how to change some of your daily behaviors so they arent painful.
Other professional therapy services that can help alleviate pain include massage therapy and acupuncture.
Wrist Hand Or Finger Splints
If youre going through a bad arthritis flare-up, using resting splints can help quiet the active inflammation and give you some relief, Dr. Osterman says. These are devices, usually made of plastic and secured with velcro, that temporarily immobilize the joint, which allows it time to rest, he explains.
Im only 22, but some of my fingers are already severely bent and fused from having juvenile arthritis. Splints are helpful for the pain and for helping keep them straight so hopefully they dont bend more, says rheumatoid arthritis patient Emma A., from Melbourne, Australia. My favorites are ring splints since they look like jewelry instead of a medical brace.
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Take Advantage Of Assistive Devices
If you have arthritis, dont be embarrassed to use devices that make daily life easier on your joints. Assistive devices, like a walker or cane, can make it easier to walk. For some people, shoe inserts provide pain relief.
Using assistive devices can make it easier for you to perform daily tasks, which helps you maintain your quality of life and manage your condition.
Physical Effects On Arthritis Pain
The sensitivity of your nervous system and the severity of your arthritis determine how your body reacts chemically to pain. These factors also determine whether your nerves will send or block a pain signal.
There are many ways to help control pain. Some pain control methods focus on emotional and social factors. Other methods focus on physical factors. Using a combination of methods is often the best way to control your pain.
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These Arthritis Home Remedies May Be Worth A Try As Part Of Your Overall Doctor
While medication is a cornerstone and critical part of managing arthritis, home remedies and lifestyle changes can be important in your arthritis treatment plan too, says Susan Blum, MD, MPH, chronic disease specialist, assistant clinical professor in the department of preventive medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, and author of Healing Arthritis: The 3-Step Guide To Conquering Arthritis Naturally.
You need to treat arthritis from a whole body perspective, not simply a medical one, which means incorporating all facets of wellness, including what you do at home, she says. She knows firsthand of what she speaks, noting that she uses home remedies to help her own arthritis and autoimmune disorder. She swears by a daily meditation, green smoothies, gardening, and walking outdoors.
However, its important to note that home remedies should not replace medication. And you need a healthy amount of skepticism when deciding which ones to try and implement, says Don R. Martin, MD, a rheumatologist with Sentara RMH Rheumatology in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Many natural remedies arent backed by science or the research is very limited or weak. And even for therapies that have shown to be effective, supplements and natural therapies are not regulated the same way prescription medications are, so the purity and quality can vary widely, he adds.
Tips To Ease Joint Pain
Arthritis joint pain and symptoms can make simple activities difficult. This head-to-toe guide can help.
Arthritis pain in even one joint can take a toll on your entire body. For example, a painful neck can prevent you from turning your head properly, placing stress on your shoulders. A painful knee may cause you to walk in a way that affects your hips, back and feet. And holding a joint still to protect it can make moving it more difficult and in some cases almost impossible over time.
If joint pain is caused by an inflammatory disease such as rheumatoid arthritis or juvenile idiopathic arthritis, systemic treatment is needed to stop inflammation that can lead to joint damage or destruction. For flares of pain, persistent pain or pain due to other causes, there are many things you can do on your own or ask your doctor or physical therapist about to get relief.
Solutions vary and may include splints, therapeutic exercises or more informal daily modifications at home and beyond. Here are a few suggestions to help ease joint pain head-to-toe:
Neck pain can make it difficult to look up or turn your head sideways. If you avoid twisting your neck by moving your shoulders or entire body, the surrounding muscles may hurt as much as the joints themselves.
The mandible joint can be a frequent source of discomfort, making it painful to bite into a thick sandwich or an apple. Jaw pain is common on the side of the face or just in front of the ear.
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Tips For Using A Cane
When using a cane, remember the following tips:
- Ensure the cane isnt too tall or short. You shouldnt slump or slouch over when using a cane. Its height should come to the top of your wrist.
- Use the cane on your strong side. If your affected hip is your right one, hold the cane with your left hand. When you step forward with your right leg, the cane will provide support. Practice moving your affected leg and the cane at the same time.
- Advance the cane an appropriate distance. Move the cane about 2 inches to the front or side of you. If its too far from your body, you might lose balance.
A physical therapist can help you develop a safe technique.
Your insurance company may cover the cost of these aids. Your healthcare provider can write a prescription for these mobility aids to help in the reimbursement process.
Are There Any Other Treatment Options Being Investigated
For osteoarthritis, some clinical research trials are underway in the U.S. exploring stem cell treatment. Early findings are encouraging. Stem cell therapy so far has shown to provide some pain relief and improvement in function. The ultimate goal would hopefully be to use stem cells to regrow cartilage.
Over the past decade, researchers developed many new medications for psoriatic arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, with more studies underway.
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Add Cloves To Your Diet
Cloves contain an anti-inflammatory chemical called eugenol that interferes with a bodily process that triggers arthritis. In one animal study, eugenol prevented the release of COX-2, a protein that spurs inflammation . Cloves also contain antioxidants, which are important in slowing the cartilage and bone damage caused by arthritis. Aim for ½ to 1 teaspoon a day for joint pain relief.
Proper Oseteoarthritis Treatment Includes Exercise
There’s no cure for osteoarthritis, but there is a lot you can do to slow its progression, reduce pain, and maintain or improve function. Losing weight can be particularly helpful if you’re overweight or obese. You can often relieve pain with over-the-counter analgesics such as acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , including ibuprofen and aspirin. The use of canes, splints, or braces may be necessary to protect a joint from further injury.
But if there’s one osteoarthritis treatment an individual with osteoarthritis should do every day, it’s exercise. Regular exercise strengthens muscles and improves flexibility and balance. It not only helps ease pain and stiffness but also improves overall health. It’s also good for your mood and for staving off other conditions prevalent in older age.
Exercise as an integral part of prevention and treatment of osteoarthritis, especially in people ages 65 and over. After reviewing the evidence, the group also concluded that moderate-intensity exercise does not as some have feared increase the risk for osteoarthritis.
Research suggests that older women may be able to prevent osteoarthritis pain by getting as little as one to two hours of moderately intense physical activity each week. Lack of exercise may contribute directly to osteoarthritis, especially by causing the atrophy of supportive and shock-absorbing muscles, such as those surrounding the knee.
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Surgery For Arthritis In The Ankle
Your doctor may recommend surgery for your ankle arthritis if your pain causes disability and isnt relieved with nonsurgical treatment. Your doctor may recommend more than one type of surgery. Ankle surgery is complicated as it most commonly involves a fusion of the rearfoot or ankle joint or both, says Dr. Archer. If there is significant spurring of the ankle joint, the spurs can be resected via ankle arthroscopy first before fusion is attempted to try and restore ankle motion. However, all non-surgical measures should be attempted before surgery is planned.
Whats right for you depends on the extent of your arthritis in the ankle. Here are some options.
Ankle arthroscopic repair: Ankle arthroscopy is useful to clean up loose joint bodies, or small pieces of bone spurs in the joint that have broken off over time, says Dr. Archer. It can lead to less pain and improved range of motion, says Dr. Bilal. Since the surgery can be done laparoscopically, your surgeon will make a few small incisions.
Ankle arthroscopic repair is helpful in the early stages of arthritis in the ankle and for those with limited ankle arthritis. Its often ineffective in advanced ankle arthritis, says Dr. Bilal. Thats because when a significant amount of cartilage has worn away, the procedure wont help the joint.
Dr. Archer says that you shouldnt expect to walk as you once did. But if the pain is bad enough, you may welcome the chance to walk slightly differently without pain.
Add Natural Supplements To Your Diet
A number of supplements, vitamins, and minerals may help reduce inflammation and arthritis pain. Vitamins A, B, C, D, E, and K, as well as minerals like zinc, calcium, iron, and magnesium, all play important roles in overall health.
Some people with arthritis find capsaicin, turmeric, and a variety of other supplements can improve arthritis symptoms. Talk to your health care team to find out which supplements might be a good addition to your arthritis management plan.
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The Future Of Oa Treatment
Unlike rheumatoid arthritis, OA hasn’t had any major breakthroughs that have dramatically improved its medical treatment. Drug development for this type of arthritis has been slow because the disease itself follows a slow process. It takes time to track whether a treatment can halt joint damage when that damage occurs so gradually. “Joint replacement surgery has been successful, but medical treatments for OA have been limited,” Dr. Aliprantis says.
Hopefully, strontium or another disease-modifying therapy will prove its merit in future studies. But it could be several more years before any approach revolutionizes the treatment of this condition. “I think we’re just starting to understand OA,” Dr. Aliprantis says.
Berries Apples And Pomegranates
Berries are rich in antioxidants and the Arthritis Foundation notes that blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, cranberries, raspberries and boysenberries all provide arthritis-fighting power. Youll get health benefits no matter if you eat them frozen, fresh or dehydrated , so be sure to eat a variety of berries throughout the week.
Apples are also high in antioxidants and a good source of fiber. Plus, they provide crunch and can help curb your appetite for unhealthy snacks, Dunn says.
Pomegranates, which are classified as berry fruits, are rich in tannins which can fight the inflammation of arthritis. Add these to a salad or stir into plain yogurt for some added benefits.
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What Outcome Can I Expect If I Have Arthritis In My Hands
There is no cure for arthritis. However, you can usually manage mild to moderate symptoms with a combination of medication and non-medication approaches. Surgery may be an option if other treatments fail or the arthritis in your hands is severe. Your healthcare provider will explain what outcome you can expect for your type and severity of arthritis, your age, other existing medical conditions and other factors.
Salmon Tuna Sardines And Mackerel
These fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which studies have found can decrease inflammation. According to the Arthritis Foundation, eating a 3 to 4 ounce serving of these fish two or more times a week is recommended for protecting the heart and reducing inflammation.
While fresh fish can get pricey quickly, one tip to make it more affordable is by looking in the freezer section or buying canned sardines, salmon or tuna. Be sure to choose lower sodium options when purchasing canned items if you need to keep your sodium in check.
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