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Tips for Managing Osteoarthritis

Posted November 30, 2017

Osteoarthritis (or OA) is a chronic, degenerative joint disease that affects over 27 million people in the United States.

More often than not, OA occurs in the knees, hips, lower back, and neck. It can be an incredibly painful and debilitating condition, but there are some ways you can manage the symptoms and pain. 

Get Up and Move

Diagnosing physicians are often surprised at the inconsistency between the pain levels of patients with similar x-rays/imaging tests. Some with mild or moderate osteoarthritis may rate their pain quite high, while others with grade 4/severe arthritis have less reported pain and live fully functional lives. The difference? There may be numerous reasons for this, but one consistent factor is exercise. You have to get moving and keep moving to keep the pain at bay. Simples activities, such as walking, biking, and light exercise (aerobics, for example) can reduce pain and help you maintain a healthy weight. 

Additionally, strengthening exercises that build muscle can help ease the burden of affected joints, and “range-of-motion” activities can help improve flexibility and reduce stiffness. 

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Excess weight already puts stress on joints and bones. Add OA to the mix, and you could be looking at some serious problems. Maintaining a healthy weight will reduce pain and limit additional damage to your joints. If you’re struggling with OA, it’s important that you carefully monitor what you eat. Take in fewer calories and make sure you stay active. 

It is critical to consume a diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables. Just ask 40-year old New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. He remains one of the best in the business at a relatively advanced age, and he chalks it up to just such a diet. The nutrients in fresh fruits and vegetables help your body recover from stress by removing and replacing damaged cells. The result is reduced inflammation, less pain, and better range of motion. You don’t have to be a world class athlete to benefit. You may not win a multi-million dollar contract, but you will feel much better.

Stretch

Stretching your joints and muscles is good practice no matter what. But with OA, simple stretches every day can go a long way to reducing stiffness and improving flexibility. Light yoga and tai chi are both excellent options. 

Physical and Occupational Therapy

A trained therapist can provide a number of treatment options for OA in a professional, controlled environment. These include:
  • Education on proper joint function
  • Heat and cold therapies
  • Range of motion and flexibility exercises
  • Assistive devices

Medication

While there is currently no cure for OA, there are different medications that can help reduce pain. These include analgesics, NSAIDs, corticosteroids, and hyaluronic acid.

Additionally, there are surgical options that can repair or replace severely damaged joints if needed. 

If you suffer from osteoarthritis and would like to be alerted to future clinical trials for treatment, just follow this link.