7 Tips to Slow the Pain of Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is a common degenerative joint disease that affects 10 million people in the UK alone. It occurs when the protective cartilage that cushions the joints wears down over time, leading to pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility.
While there is no cure for osteoarthritis, there are steps you can take to slow its progress and improve your quality of life. If you’re living with osteoarthritis you’ll know the pain all too well and are likely worried about how it could impact you as time progresses. But there are ways you can protect your joints and manage osteoarthritis to help slow its progression. Read on to find out more.
1. Healthy Weight
One of the most crucial factors in managing osteoarthritis is maintaining a healthy weight. Excess weight places additional stress on your joints, particularly on weight-bearing joints such as the knees and hips. By losing weight and achieving a healthy BMI (Body Mass Index), you can significantly reduce the strain on your joints and alleviate pain. Consult with a healthcare professional to determine a suitable weight loss plan that includes a balanced diet and regular exercise.
2. Regular Exercise
Regular exercise is essential for preserving joint health and slowing down the progression of osteoarthritis. Low-impact exercises like swimming, cycling and walking can help strengthen the muscles around your joints, improve flexibility and reduce pain. By moving painful joints you help bring essential nutrients to them, which in turn can help ensure they are more likely to better support you in the long run. A physical therapist can develop an exercise routine tailored to your needs to ensure you’re doing what is right for you. Remember to start slowly and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts.
3. Protect Your Joints
Protecting your joints from excessive stress and injury is crucial in managing osteoarthritis. When engaging in physical activities, use protective gear and appropriate joint supports (such as braces or wraps) to provide stability and reduce strain. Avoid repetitive movements or activities that place excessive pressure on your joints. It's important to listen to your body and take breaks when needed to prevent overexertion. Many people have found things like ibuprofen gels can reduce the pain in the short term. However, for those looking for a drug-free solution, FlexiSEQ has been clinically proven to help ease the pain and stiffness associated with osteoarthritis.
4. Healthy Diet
A nutritious diet plays a vital role in managing osteoarthritis symptoms. Include foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids (such as fatty fish, walnuts, and flaxseeds) as they have anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce joint pain and inflammation. Incorporate plenty of fruits and vegetables into your meals, as they provide antioxidants and essential nutrients that promote joint health. Additionally, limit your intake of processed foods, sugary snacks and saturated fats, as they can contribute to inflammation that makes joint pain significantly worse.
5. Hot and Cold Therapies
Applying heat or cold to affected joints can provide temporary relief from pain and stiffness. Use a heating pad, warm towel or warm bath to apply heat to your joints. Heat helps relax muscles, increase blood flow and ease joint stiffness. Conversely, cold therapies such as ice packs or cold compresses can help reduce swelling and numb the area, providing pain relief. Alternate between hot and cold therapies based on your symptoms and whichever offers you the relief you need.
6. Complementary Therapies
Several complementary therapies have shown promise in managing osteoarthritis symptoms. Hydrotherapy, for example, takes place in a warm swimming pool, thereby taking the weight off your joints, while a therapist takes you through some simple exercises that can greatly alleviate joint pain. Massage therapy can also help reduce muscle tension, increase circulation, and alleviate pain. Discuss these options with your healthcare provider to determine if they are suitable for you and ask if they are available through the NHS.
7. Rest & Relaxation
Resting and allowing your joints time to recover is crucial in managing osteoarthritis. Avoid overusing or straining your joints by balancing periods of activity with sufficient rest. Incorporate relaxation techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises or gentle yoga into your routine to reduce stress and promote overall well-being. Quality sleep is also vital for joint health; this can be hard if you are in constant pain, so it’s worth looking into ways to help joint pain at night.
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