Of course, if you suffer from arthritis and you are feeling stiff and sore, you may not feel like doing much of anything. This is a poor decision. Instead, if you want to continue to be active and busy, you need to learn how to cope with arthritis.
How to Cope with Arthritis Pain
While most people with arthritis may experience pain, stiffness and discomfort, there are several things they can do to ease that pain.
* Use the medications your doctor prescribes or suggests. Your physician may recommend an over-the-counter medication such as a low dose of Tylenol or Aleve. In more extreme cases, you may need to take a prescription medication. You may have to try several different medications before you find the one that works best for you. Don't give up until you find something that eases your discomfort so you can remain active.
* Experiment with supplements that help some people with arthritis pain. Among the supplements you may want to try, with your doctor's approval, are glucosamine combined with chondroitin or MSM. Other people have been helped by taking fish oil, faxseed oil, and/or avocado/soybean oil. Make sure your doctor knows what you are taking, so nothing you take conflicts with what they prescribe. With your physician's approval, however, you may find something that eases your stiffness.
* Stay as active as possible. You will become more flexible and have less pain if you participate in low-impact exercises such as yoga, walking, Tao Chi and water exercises. Start gradually so you do not do too much too soon. Make sure you do something for exercise every day. It is also a good idea to break your exercise up into small pieces. Strive to get a total of at least 40 minutes of exercise a day, but it can be broken into two or three sessions that are 15 to 20 minutes long.
* Lose weight. Each time you lose one pound, you will take four pounds of pressure off your hips, knees and ankles. This will also help ease your pain.
* When pain flares up, take time to rest your joints. Alternating activity with relaxation is the ideal way to help your joints. However, you do not want to remain inactive for too many days unless you are recovering from surgery or your doctor advises you to rest for a lengthy period of time. Otherwise, resume your activities as soon as possible.
* Alternate heat and cold when your joints are inflamed. In addition to taking medication and resting your joints, you may also want to use heating pads or cold packs on your painful joints. It may also help to take a warm bath.
* At times, you may want to apply a topical painkiller. Many people have found temporary relief when they have used creams containing capsaicin on a sore, inflamed joint.
* Practice relaxation techniques. Your state-of-mind can have a tremendous effect on your level of pain. Practice yoga, deep breathing, meditation, aromatherapy, guided imagery, hypnosis or other relaxation techniques to help you learn to be less sensitive to pain.
* Consider natural treatments such as massage, acupuncture or acupressure. These alternative treatments may help you relax and reduce the pain you are experiencing.
* See a chiropractor or osteopath if you think your arthritis pain has caused your body to get out of alignment. Their adjustments can help you feel more comfortable and increase your range of motion.
* Learn to listen to your body. You need to recognize the signs of fatigue and be able to identify when you might be putting too much stress on a joint. This will help you know when you should back off and modify your activity. For example, if walking on land is too painful at first, you might want to try walking in a swimming pool. Don't overdo it, though!
* Modify your activities, as needed. Finally, you may have to make some small changes to your lifestyle in order to accommodate your arthritis, especially if it is severe. Depending on where you feel the most pain, you may need to do things such as purchase an electric jar opener, sit on a tall kitchen stool when cooking for any length of time, have your door knobs replaced by levers, or ask for other assistance devices. You may benefit from a stair lift to help you get up to a second floor bedroom or a comfy chair lift that helps you get back on your feet after sitting. Don't be embarrassed to ask for help when you need it!
You can also order products online that will help you adapt to your arthritis. Use this Amazon link to see some of the different products that are available, whether you order them from Amazon or not. Amazon has everything from special gloves, handy grips, topical medications and much more. You may discover the perfect solution to a problem that has caused you to restrict your activities.
You can find more information about how to cope with your arthritis from the Arthritis Foundation at arthritis.org.
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