Showing posts with label exercises for chronic pain. Show all posts
Showing posts with label exercises for chronic pain. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

How to Cope with Arthritis Pain

It seems that everyone I know in the Baby Boomer age group is dealing with sore knees, painful hands, irritated shoulders or other stiff joints.  Although arthritis may be a common part of the aging process, there is no reason to allow it to define who you are or to let it completely restrict your activities.  With a few modifications, most people can continue to enjoy everything they like to do.

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

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Exercises that Help Fibromyalgia

Gentle exercises like Tai Chi
seem to lesson pain.
Like many of us, I have a few friends who suffer from Fibromyalgia.  In the people I have observed who are suffering from this disease, their pain seems to have gotten worse as they aged.  They are exhausted from dealing with the chronic pain, and all they really want to do is stay home and move as little as possible.

A little research has shown me, however, that sitting still is the worse thing they could be doing.  Although they shouldn't take up an aggressive exercise program, a little gentle movement on a regular basis may be exactly what they need in order to relieve their pain.  One of my friends has chosen to avoid most exercise; the other one has signed up for a yoga class, and believes that it is helping. 

According to the website, there are some exercises that you might find helpful if you are living with the chronic pain of Fibromyalgia.

Exercises that Help Fibromyalgia Pain

Start with water exercises, especially in a warm pool.  You might try swimming laps, or taking a water aerobics class.  Being in the water makes this a low-impact exercise, and it has been shown to reduce stiffness, pain, fatigue and even the depression that is common in people with Fibromyalgia.

If you don't like water, try low impact aerobics, including biking, walking, or a gentle aerobics class.  Do not get too aggressive if you decide to take aerobics.  Take your time and keep the distances short if you are biking or walking.  In fact, you may want to start out on a stationery bicycle or a treadmill, so you can stop whenever you need to.  Keep moving, but don't push yourself too hard.

Strength training may help your muscles.    In fact, according to RealAge, strength training with lightweight hand weights or gym equipment has been shown to reduce the number of tender points on your body ... a common indicator of Fibromyalgia.

Stretching exercises, such as those done in physical therapy and yoga, seem to improve your flexibility, and reduce your stiffness.  Be gentle, and don't push yourself too hard.  However, doing some gentle stretching exercises daily may be a good way to get started on an exercise program for your Fibromyalgia.

Tai Chi and Chi-Gong are both martial arts that will improve your posture, breathing, and balance, and may help you cope better with chronic pain.  The over-55 community where we live offers classes in both Tai Chi and Chi-Gong.  You may want to see if a community organization or senior center in your area offers these classes, too.

Whatever exercise you choose, don't stop.  The people who reap the greatest benefit from these programs are those who keep it up.  If doing a half hour of exercise a day seems too much, break it into smaller pieces.  In fact, spending 10 - 15 minutes engaging in gentle exercises several times a day may be especially effective in helping someone who has become sedentary because of their pain.

As always, check with a doctor before starting any exercise program.

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