Daily arthritis management includes following directions from your doctor and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Make sure you're taking medications and going to physical therapy according to your doctor's recommendations. Maintaining a diet low in calories and saturated fats and high in grains, fruits, and vegetables can help slow the progress of the disease. Remember that obesity is a risk factor, so exercising, losing weight, or maintaining a healthy weight is very helpful. To manage pain, hot baths, heating pads, or ice packs may be helpful. Also, don't hesitate to use assistive devices like walkers or canes that can help you do your daily tasks with less pain.
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Honor Society of Nursing (STTI) answered
Learning techniques to reduce pain and limitations can be beneficial to people with arthritis and other chronic diseases. Self-management education programs, such as the Chronic Disease Self Management Program (CDSMP), can help you develop the skills and confidence to manage multiple chronic conditions and live well each day in spite of the limitations they cause. Participants in these programs have learned to manage pain and fatigue, and also reduce frustration or worry about their health. Effective, arthritis-focused options such as the Arthritis Self Management Program (ASMP) also are available. Interactive workshops are low cost (about $25-$35) and available in communities across the country.
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Celeste Robb-Nicholson, Internal Medicine, answeredThe following strategies and therapies can make coping with arthritis a little easier:
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- Regular exercise. It may be counterintuitive, but physical activity not only helps maintain joint function, but also relieves stiffness and decreases pain and fatigue. It should help to increase range of motion, strengthen muscles, and build endurance. As little as one to two hours of moderate physical activity each week should start to produce results. Work with your clinician or physical therapist to develop your own exercise routine.
- Achieving and maintaining a normal body weight. Bearing excess weight results in more stress on joints, more deterioration of cartilage, and more pain.
- Assistive devices. A wide variety of splints are available by prescription and over the counter for hands and fingers, wrists, elbows, knees, and ankles. These may help to ease pain and increase mobility. Using a cane can relieve pressure on hips and knees substantially. An increasing array of helpful gadgets, from jar openers to dusters to garden pruners, are available online and at home and hardware stores.
- Acupuncture. A meta-analysis of 24 studies found that acupuncture significantly improved pain in people with hip or knee osteoarthritis. If you are considering acupuncture, find a licensed practitioner. Keep in mind that acupuncture isn't covered by Medicare and may not be covered by your insurer either.
- Heat therapy. A warm shower or bath can work wonders anytime, especially before and after exercising. Hot packs and moist/dry heating pads, or even a folded towel warmed in the oven or microwave, can offer instant relief.
- Cooling. Gel-filled cold packs, coolant sprays, ice chips in a plastic bag, and packages of frozen peas can soothe hot, painful joints. To avoid disrupting circulation to the joint, don't leave them on longer than 20 minutes.