One statement that I often hear in the clinic is, “never get old.” Although we all wish that we could stay young forever, getting older doesn’t mean that we have to slow down. There are several things that we can do to help reduce arthritis pain and stiffness over time, and possibly slow down the process altogether. Listed are the topics that will be discussed:
- What is arthritis?
- What can be done to reduce arthritic pain and stiffness?
- Are there ways that we can slow down or prevent arthritis?
What is Arthritis?
Arthritis is a broad term that encompasses many different diseases, but common arthritis symptoms of pain and stiffness are usually caused be degenerative arthritis (osteoarthritis), which involves inflammation in the joints and gets worse with age. Osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis and is caused by wear and tear over the years, while rheumatoid arthritis is caused by the immune system attacking the joints as if they were foreign tissues, marking rheumatoid arthritis as an autoimmune disease.
Ways to Reduce Arthritis Pain and Stiffness
Even though osteoarthritis is a normal part of the aging process, there are several ways to get relief from the pain and stiffness and continuing doing the things you love. Many people believe that movement will make their arthritis worse, but that is not the case. When you have arthritis, movement can decrease your pain and stiffness, improve your range of motion, increase your endurance, and strengthen your muscles.
Before you even start your day, you can help relieve pain by applying heat to your aching joints, either by using a heating pad or taking a hot bath or shower. By using heat, it will help to relieve pain temporarily as well as warm up the muscles to get you started for any activities that you may be doing. Once you’ve heated for about 15-20 minutes, keep your joints moving by doing daily, gentle stretches that move your joints through a full range of motion, making sure that you are not overdoing the stretches and causing pain. Once you have warmed up and stretched, you’ll be better prepared for any activity that you may be doing, whether you’re playing pickleball, golf, going for a walk, or just going to the nearest grocery store to pick up some food.
When exercising with arthritis, you should focus on workouts that will help build muscles around the joints, without damaging the joints themselves. You should work on stretching, range of motion exercises and gradual progressive strength training. Also, performing low-impact aerobic exercises, such as walking, cycling or water exercises, will help build up muscle strength and endurance while having the least impact on your joints. On the other hand, you should be avoiding activities that involve high impact and repetitive motion, including running, jumping, tennis, high-impact aerobics and repeating the same movement again and again. After you have finished exercising, or at the end of the day, you should apply ice packs to help relieve sore muscles and to decrease inflammation and pain.
How to Slow Down Arthritis
Unfortunately, there is no sure way to prevent arthritis, but you can reduce your risk and delay the potential onset of certain types of arthritis. Listed are four quick tips that can help you reduce your risk:
- Use good posture while sitting, standing and moving.
- Manage your weight to prevent unnecessary stress on your joints.
- Avoid sports injuries through proper equipment, adequate training and safe play. (Sports injuries, such as ACL tears, may lead to osteoarthritis later in life.)
- Strengthen the muscles surrounding your joints to help support and protect your joints from stress and impact throughout the day.
If you are interested in getting a more customized approach then click the link below. Buffalo Rehab Group is currently offering free consultations by our Physical Therapists. If you are currently suffering from arthritis and would like to learn more about exercises you can do to reduce your pain and stiffness, then a free discovery visit is your next step!
Benefits of Exercise for Osteoarthritis. Arthritis Foundation. 2017.
Arthritis Pain: do’s and don’ts. Mayo Clinic Staff. 2017.