The Do's & Don'ts of Arthritis
When you’re first diagnosed with arthritis, it can be hard to know what to do next. How can you stop the condition getting worse? Will you have to give up the activities you enjoy? And how do you cope with a flare up when it does happen? We know these questions can plague your mind no matter how long you’ve had the condition, so we spoke to Dr Wendy Holden, Medical Advisor & Consultant Rheumatologist at Arthritis Action, for her ‘Do’s and Don'ts’ for managing arthritis.
Tips for managing arthritis?
“There is no absolute cure for arthritis, however there are many ways to manage your condition and help reduce painful symptoms. Some of these can be provided by healthcare professionals, such as surgery or prescription medicines, but there are also many ways you can manage your condition yourself,” says Wendy.
“There are a variety of approaches and techniques to address both the physical and mental impact of arthritis. Arthritis affects people differently, so each individual can choose the techniques that help them live a fuller, more active, life whilst living with the condition,” she continues.
Wendy’s do’s of arthritis:
- Do try to keep to a healthy weight. For every pound that you are above a healthy weight, an extra 4 or 5 pounds of weight goes through your hips, knees and feet. This can increase the pain you feel in those joints.
Do keep your muscles strong and do some exercise. Exercise that increases muscle strength can really help support the joints and reduce the pain of osteoarthritis.
- Do keep to a healthy diet. Eating healthily can help maintain muscle and bone strength, and help you keep to a healthy weight.
Do try to relax to help manage the pain better. Distraction, meditation, reducing stress and trying to help your sleep can all help reduce pain
Do try painkillers and anti-inflammatory medicines if necessary, but be cautious. They are often prescribed to help with the pain and stiffness of osteoarthritis. These can be taken when needed or before activity that you know can trigger the pain. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen can be very effective for helping pain and stiffness, but they should be used in the lowest possible dose for the shortest possible time as they can increase the risk of irritation of the stomach including ulcers as well as cardiovascular disease such as heart attack and stroke.
Do be open to physical therapies such as physiotherapy, osteopathy and chiropractic treatment can all help. Therapists can give you exercises to help you manage your pain and improve your function.
- Do keep in mind that joint injections of a corticosteroid and local anaesthetic can sometimes help individual joints that are especially painful. The benefits can last for many months or even longer
Things avoid when you have arthritis?
“Lifestyle choices can make a big difference. Smoking increases the risk of rheumatoid arthritis and can make medicines for arthritis less effective. Being overweight significantly increases the risk of osteoarthritis, especially in the hips, knees and feet, and makes drugs for rheumatoid arthritis less effective. Having an injury to a joint (for example a sporting injury or broken bone) can also increase the risk of osteoarthritis in later life. Meanwhile, drinking excess alcohol can trigger attacks of gout,” says Wendy.
“Many people worry that hard work or exercise can cause arthritis, but this is definitely not the case. Exercise doesn't damage the joints and in fact is one of the most important things that you can do to help with the pain and stiffness of arthritis,” she continues.
Wendy’s don’ts for arthritis:
Don’t be afraid of exercise - it can help you maintain a healthy weight, strengthen your joints and maintain healthy muscles.
Don’t drink too much - it can lead to gout and, as a depressant, can be detrimental to your mental health.
Don’t smoke if possible - alongside adverse health effects, it can increase your chances of rheumatoid arthritis and reduce the effectiveness of some arthritis medications.
- Don’t give up - arthritis can be a hard condition to live with, but with the right self care and treatment you can still live a full and happy life.
And don’t forget, drug-free FlexiSEQ has helped millions of people living with arthritis. FlexiSEQ is clinically proven to help ease the pain and stiffness associated with osteoarthritis. It can be just the thing to help you get moving and #SayYesToLife.
What are some of your do’s and don’ts for arthritis? Let us know on Facebook!