May is National Arthritis Month! Until I hit middle age, I don’t think I truly understood the impact that arthritis has on the millions of Americans who suffer from it. While my aches and pains simply mean a little stiffness in the morning, for many who suffer from arthritis the disabling pain and stiffness make even the simplest daily activities challenging. This month recognizes the importance of diagnosis, new treatments and research for arthritis.
Arthritis is a condition that can affect any joint in the body. It is generally characterized by inflammation within the joints due to the loss of cartilage, the smooth slippery covering at the ends of the bones where two bones meet. This leads to pain and stiffness of the joints. For those suffering from arthritis, it can be challenging to manage the pain and stiffness and lead an active and healthy lifestyle.
Although there is currently no cure for arthritis, there are many options for managing the symptoms. These options can range from making simple changes to your everyday life to joint replacement surgery. Joint replacement surgery is typically considered only after all other options fail.
Here are a few tips for making everyday activities more manageable:
- Moderate exercise. Contrary to popular belief, low to moderate exercise, including stretching and light strengthening, may help improve arthritis pain
- Over the counter medications. Prior to starting any medications, even over the counter medications, it is important to talk to your doctor.
- Warm moist heat including hot showers or warm packs. According to the Arthritis Foundation, heat therapy should be limited to 15 minutes up to three times a day.
- Ice packs. Ice packs or cold therapy should be limited to 15 minutes up to four times a day.
- Weight management. Even slight reductions in weight can improve arthritis pain.
- Walking aids-cane or walker. Assisted devices can relieve the sore joint leading to improvements in pain. Use canes in the hand opposite of the sore joint.
- Stress reduction and relaxation. Sore joints need rest. Listen to your body when it is time to relax.
Be aware of the symptoms of arthritis, and talk to your doctor about what diagnostic and treatment options might be right for you. Learn more about Meriter’s Orthopedic Program today.