Arthritis is an umbrella term that is used to describe joint pain or joint disease that causes inflammation, pain, and stiffness of the affected joint(s). There are over 100 different types of arthritis, and roughly 54 million adults in the United States have been diagnosed with a form of the condition.
Depending on the severity of the diagnosis, there are certain habits and tips that can alleviate some of the pain and symptoms associated with arthritis. It’s important to note that, before making any lifestyle changes, you or your loved one should consult with a healthcare professional to ensure a treatment option is the best solution.
1. Weight and Exercise Management
Excess body weight can place unnecessary stress on joints - especially those affected by arthritis. While many assume exercise would have a negative impact on joints, when done appropriately, physical activity can help ease the pain of arthritis and boost energy levels.
Simple exercises, such as yoga, stretching, water aerobics, and walking, are low-impact workouts that may help you or your loved one manage the symptoms of arthritis. Knowing how to manage arthritis with exercise is all based on the person’s body, comfort level, and physician recommendations.
2. Dietary Changes
Surprisingly, changing your parent or loved one’s diet can also help manage the pain and symptoms of arthritis, such as:
Fish - Fish, especially fatty fish, is high in omega-3 acids, which have been shown to have properties that help reduce inflammation. Certain types of fish are also rich in vitamin D, which may also help reduce the symptoms of arthritis.
Berries - High in antioxidants, berries may be a key to helping reduce inflammation. In a study involving over 38,000 women, those who ate at least two servings a week of strawberries were 14% less likely to experience swelling. In a different study, the properties of antioxidants (quercetin and rutin) decreased the symptoms of arthritis in test subjects.
Spinach - Regarded as one of the healthiest vegetables, spinach is rich in many nutrients, including antioxidants, iron, protein, and minerals. Studies suggest that consuming spinach can help manage arthritis and help combat other diseases.
It’s important to do your research and consult with a healthcare professional, as there are additional foods that are proven to help reduce some of the symptoms of arthritis.
3. The Use of Heat and Cold Therapy
The heat side of this therapy can help increase blood flow while reducing stiffness and pain in the affected joints. Taking a bath with warm (92 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit) water can help, but should be avoided if your joints are swollen or bruised. For this treatment to be effective, be sure the water is a consistent temperature and should be done for an extended period. The heat side of the therapy is also perfect for pre-workout.
The cold side of this therapy should be used to help reduce swelling and tender joints. Wrapping an ice pack around a swollen joint can reduce inflammation, reduce pain, and prevent muscle spasms. This side of therapy is perfect for post-workout, as it can help reduce potential inflammation caused by strain and stress on affected joints. Doctors agree that a mixture of both heat and cold therapy can help in reducing symptoms, but it is important to note your parent or loved one’s comfort level and accessibility.
4. Massage Therapy
According to the Arthritis Foundation, massage therapy comes with a variety of benefits that can help reduce arthritis symptoms. Massage therapy, whether administered by yourself or a professional, can help reduce pain, stiffness, improve the overall function of the joints, and increase range of motion. Massage therapy, in general, can help relieve stress, anxiety, and has shown to help improve the quality of sleep, a common issue amongst those who have arthritis. To get the best treatment for you or a loved one, speak to a healthcare professional, and ask for a reference (as opposed to going to a massage therapist who is unaware of the conditions).
Knowing how to manage arthritis is all about listening to one’s body. One of the best methods for healing is RICE:
Before trying any specific therapy, consult with a healthcare professional to help ensure success. If you found this information useful and would like more information regarding senior health, you can visit HarborChase Senior Living’s blog.