If you have painful joints caused by arthritis, the thought of staying active might seem daunting or even unattainable. But, staying active actually helps to reduce joint pain and allows you to continue to do the activities you love.
Texas Orthopedics rheumatologists Dr. Robert J. Koval, Jr. and Dr. Joseph R. Martinez share four healthy habits to minimize arthritis pain and help you stay active.
One of the worst things you can do if you have arthritis is to stop moving. Getting regular exercise is a key component of arthritis management and can help to reduce joint pain and decrease added stress on joints due to excess weight.
But before you get moving, make sure you always properly warm up by stretching and then cool down after your workout. Gradually build up to more strenuous activities as your body feels ready to move to the next level to prevent injury.
Dr. Martinez advises his patients to listen to their bodies during exercise. “Feeling a mild soreness during exercise is normal. However, if you’re developing a clear feeling of pain, it is best to stop that exercise,” he explains.
Dr. Martinez recommends low-impact exercises for both your warm-up and cool-down such as walking, cycling or yoga are a good fit.
Try an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Many people with arthritis have found that an anti-inflammatory diet such as the Mediterranean diet can help to reduce arthritis pain and keep joints feeling flexible. The Mediterranean diet is a plant-based diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods, including vegetables, fruits, herbs and nuts.
Above all else, Dr. Koval recommends avoiding foods with high sugar and trans fat levels as these can increase inflammation in the body.
Consider Anti-Inflammatory Supplements or Medications
In addition to making dietary changes, taking an herbal supplement such as turmeric, ginger and ginkgo may help to reduce joint inflammation and pain. Talk with your doctor before starting a new herbal supplement, however, to make sure they will not interfere with any medications you’re currently taking.
You can also try over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen.
People often don’t realize just how much stress can negatively impact their lives until they take steps to significantly reduce it. Chronic stress is known to cause inflammation throughout the body, contributing to arthritis pain.
“Studies have shown that stress directly contributes to inflammation and tends to increase pain in all forms of arthritis,” Dr. Koval says. “This creates a vicious cycle, as the pain and inflammation then leads to more stress.”
Practice good stress management habits like taking up tai chi or yoga, listening to soothing music or trying aromatherapy to help better manage arthritis.
Improve your quality of live
Incorporating these healthy habits into your lifestyle can help manage your arthritis symptoms. However, if you start to experience intense pain, sudden swelling, or feel warmth around your joints, we recommend making an appointment with your doctor. They can help develop a safe and effective arthritis treatment plan to help you improve your function and quality of life.
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