Tips on Managing Arthritis Pain
The joint pain caused by arthritis can be debilitating, particularly as this incurable condition progresses and intensifies. Managing arthritis pain is one of the primary goals of treatment, but it can be very challenging, especially in complex or advanced cases of the disease. While the exact strategies that your doctor will recommend depend on the severity of your condition, the type of arthritis you are suffering from, and your overall level of health, there are some common "dos and don'ts" you should always adhere to in order to ease arthritis pain. These guidelines are equally applicable to osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis treatment.
Managing Arthritis Pain: Dos and Don'ts
Here are some good approaches to arthritis pain management and treatments for rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis:
- Exercise in the evening, if symptoms allow. A bout of evening exercise will help prevent your joints from being stiff the following morning. Most arthritis sufferers report their pain is at its worst upon waking up, and this strategy can help prevent intense morning pain and stiffness.
- Don't stay in one place too long. If you are sitting at a desk, watching television or performing any other sedentary activity, be sure to shift positions regularly and avoid staying in one place for too long. You should also bend and stretch your arms, legs, and neck on a regular basis to stop joints from stiffening up.
- Go easy. Pushing an affected joint too hard will worsen your pain. Listen to your body; if a certain activity is making pain worse, stop it and get some rest.
- Stretch before exercise. This is particularly important for arthritis sufferers.
- Choose activities wisely. Doctors stress the importance of engaging in low-impact activities which improve strength and flexibility. Swimming, cycling, yoga, walking, and water exercises are all recommended. Avoid running, jumping, repetitive movement, and high-impact activities.
- Stay active. Inactivity can make your arthritis symptoms worse.
- Rest before taking a painkiller. If your joints feel stiff and achy following activity, take it easy for about half an hour to see if they improve without taking drugs.
- Choose the right OTC medications. For relief of occasional arthritis pain, doctors recommend aspirin or acetaminophen. For long-term arthritis pain management, use ibuprofen or naproxen instead.
- Maintain a healthy body weight. Being overweight or obese is almost certain to worsen your arthritis pain symptoms and speed up the rate of disease degeneration.
- Always remain mindful of these arthritis "don'ts:"
- Don't engage in high-impact activities. Running, jumping, and certain forms of aerobics should all be avoided.
- Don't perform repetitive movements. This will put a great deal of strain on affected joints and cause your symptoms to flare up.
- Don't be inactive. While the pain may limit your ability to engage in physical activity, it is worse to do nothing. Remaining inactive causes your joints to stiffen up, which will exacerbate your pain.
- Don't over-treat or undertreat your pain. Avoid taking painkillers if they're not necessary, but at the same time, don't deny yourself medication if you need it. Joint degeneration can require daily treatment in its advanced stages.
- Don't smoke. Smoking puts stress your body's connective tissues, which will inevitably make your arthritis symptoms worse.
More Tips for Managing Arthritis Pain
You should always maintain clear and open lines of communication with your doctor, and report all symptoms you are experiencing, regardless of whether they are causing pain and regardless of whether or not they seem to be related to your arthritis. In some cases, symptoms which may not seem to have anything to do with your arthritis may, in fact, be a direct result of the condition.
You should also educate yourself on your condition, and find out all you can about the type of arthritis you have. This will help you remain proactive and keep a positive mindset, which can make a world of difference.