How to Live a Relatively
Pain-Free Life with Arthritis
Pain-Free Life with Arthritis
Can you live a pain-free life if you’re diagnosed with arthritis? It can be scary learning you have arthritis. Now you have a name for the aches you’ve been experiencing in your hands or feet. And it’s not going to go away because the weather warms up. It’s here to stay. But you can manage it.
Arthritis, or joint pain, is a rheumatic condition most commonly affecting men and women 65 years and older. It’s also known to occur in younger people, but this is rare. It can appear suddenly or gradually with time.
While arthritis cannot be cured, various forms of treatment can help alleviate symptoms, allowing you to live a relatively pain-free life. In this article, we’ll explore the different ways to reduce arthritic inflammation.
Read the full article or Use the quick links to jump ahead.
- What is arthritis?
- How do you stop arthritis from progressing?
- What is the best prescription medicine for arthritis pain?
- What lifestyle changes can help arthritis?
- Foods to alleviate arthritis pain
- Foods to avoid with arthritis
- Get assessed
What is arthritis?
Arthritis is a chronic inflammation of one or more joints. It causes pain, stiffness, swelling, and a decreased range of motion which does worsen with age. People who have arthritis often complain their joints ache more in the mornings or on icy days.
There are over 200 types of arthritis, but the most common include osteoarthritis, gout, fibromyalgia, and rheumatoid arthritis.
How do you stop arthritis from progressing?
Learning you have arthritis isn’t easy. You may want to know if you can stop the condition from progressing. While you cannot stop it, you can slow it down. Here are the changes you need to make to alleviate the symptoms of arthritis.
1. Maintain a healthy weight
Carrying more than your ideal weight puts extra stress and strain on your joints. Keeping active and eating a balanced diet will help you to maintain a healthy weight. Some foods are known to cause flare-ups, so you may need to adjust your diet. Keep reading to learn more.
2. Protect your joints
When you’re young and fit, you don’t worry about picking up heavy objects or going for a run without warming up. But as you get older, these activities can strain your joints leading to injuries and inflammation. Monitor your posture, stretch regularly, and take care to warm up before you do any heavy lifting.
3. Maintain a healthy lifestyle
Don’t drink or smoke. Try to get enough sleep and manage your stress levels. A lack of sleep can aggravate arthritis pain, so aim for eight hours of shut-eye. Also, think about what activities you can do to help you relax? Whether that’s yoga, going for a run, or meditation, take time to slow down and reset.
4. Get fit
Did you know, as little as thirty minutes of exercise is all you need to do each day to prevent arthritis or reduce joint pain? Building muscle helps to support and stabilize joints. Just make sure to listen to your body. If you experience pain during exercise, stop what you’re doing. Take a break, and try again another day.
What is the best prescription medicine for arthritis pain?
While lifestyle changes can reduce joint pain, doctors may also prescribe certain medicines for quick relief.
The best medicine for arthritic pain includes:
- immunosuppressants like cortisone or prednisone, which reduces inflammation,
- non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen which helps to manage pain and reduce inflammation
- Analgesics like Tylenol and Vicodin control pain.
Remember, most joint pain medications can only be taken for short periods. If you have arthritis, you must make necessary lifestyle changes and consider trying certain homoeopathic treatments to reduce the symptoms.
Many of these symptoms are not specific to cancer. Other bowel conditions, including benign diseases, may cause such symptoms, but this needs to be checked out by a doctor to rule out cancer or detect it early so that treatment can be effective and curative.
If you suffer from any of the symptoms listed above, contact one of our GPs. We can discuss your concerns and arrange appropriate investigations for your situation.
What lifestyle changes can help arthritis?
There are a host of natural remedies which you can use to alleviate pain and swelling. Most of these are homoeopathic treatments and work in combination with the arthritis pain medication prescribed by your doctor.
The goal of the methods listed below is to improve joint function and alleviate arthritis symptoms. See which works best for you.
- Meditation – Deep breathing and focusing on your breath can help reduce inflammation. Remember, arthritic pain can flare when you’re stressed, and meditation is excellent for calming the mind and body. So try it.
- Acupuncture – A traditional form of Chinese medicine, acupuncture is known to help relieve inflammation. Tiny needles are used to stimulate energy and correct imbalances of qi. This is a preferred method for people suffering from osteoarthritis.
- Exercise – While exercise might be the last thing you feel like doing when suffering from joint pain, it’s good for you. Exercise ensures good blood flow and can lower inflammation. You want to combine strength training (building muscles to support your joints) with aerobic workouts such as swimming, cycling, or running. Swimming is excellent because it gives you a full-body workout without impacting your joints. Yoga is also ideal for people with arthritis. It’s a mix of meditation, breathing, and low-impact exercise. If you’re strapped for time, try yoga.
- Massage – Massage has been used for thousands of years to ease pain. Whether you prefer a Swedish massage or hot rock massage, it’s a very good natural remedy for joint pain and inflammation. Speak to a massage therapist or physiotherapist about the areas that pain you. Combining massage with essential oils works wonders to relieve painful joints and relax your mind and body.
- Muscle relaxation – Another great natural technique to try is progressive muscle relaxation. This involves tightening and relaxing every muscle group in your body. Here’s how. Find a quiet room, lie down on the ground and close your eyes. Focus on every muscle in your body, starting with your toes. Tighten and release your feet. Remember to contract your muscles when you breathe in and relax when you breathe out. Slowly work your way up your body moving to your calves, then thigh muscles, the buttocks, stomach, chest, and arms before focusing on your facial muscles. This should take you roughly 10 minutes, and you’ll feel calm and relaxed once it’s completed.
- Using heat pads and cold packs – If you’ve played sport competitively, you’ll be familiar with using hot and cold therapies to help relieve tight muscles and prevent stiffening. It can also help to reduce arthritis pain. Applying hot pads and ice packs works best for rheumatoid arthritis. Ice packs help to reduce swelling and inflammation in your joints. Grab an ice pack, or crush ice, place it into a cloth, and hold it against the inflamed joint for roughly 15 minutes a day. Alternate this with a hot water bottle or heat pad. The heat relaxes your muscles and helps blood flow to the inflamed joint.
- Aromatherapy – Another natural treatment to consider is aromatherapy. While there’s no evidence to confirm that aromatherapy helps to reduce inflammation or pain, it does positively impact your mood.
- Topical creams – Rubbing certain natural ointments or creams such as Arnica help to alleviate painful arthritis symptoms. This, combined with massage, can reduce the effects of arthritis.
- Use a walking aid – In severe cases, it’s best to try to take pressure off your inflamed joints as much as possible. Use a cane or walking stick to give your arthritic feet or knees a break.
Foods to alleviate arthritis pain
What foods are good for arthritis? Quite a few, actually. You’ll want to switch up your diet with inflammation-reducing foods and foods that are full of antioxidants. These are fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, and fish and nuts.
A vegan or plant-based diet is best for people with arthritis. Plant-based diets are known to reduce inflammation so where possible, remove red meat. Foods rich in Omega-3, nuts, beans, seeds, olive oil, and whole grains are crucial to joint health.
You’ll also want to add certain herbs and spices such as turmeric, ginger, garlic, peppermint tea, and black pepper. Turmeric, in particular, is believed to block proteins that cause inflammation, so try to use it regularly.
Seven foods to avoid with arthritis
You’d be surprised by how many foods and beverages negatively impact your health and cause inflammation. Many of these trigger foods are staples in our pantries. If you want to reduce the symptoms of arthritis, you need to change your diet.
Here is our list of foods that cause joint pain. Avoid consuming these for a relatively pain-free life with arthritis.
- Sugar – If you have arthritis, it’s vital you limit your sugar intake. Fizzy drinks, sweets, ice cream, desserts such as cakes, cookies, and puddings, and some sauces have been reported to increase inflammation and worsen symptoms. Also, sugary beverages can increase your risk of developing arthritis. Avoid them if possible. Consider replacing fructose-filled drinks with sparkling water or iced tea.
- Gluten – Foods containing wheat, rye, and barley, such as pasta, crackers, and bread, increase inflammation in people with arthritis. Many doctors recommend a gluten-free diet. Consider changing to polenta, quinoa, or brown rice. They’re easy to cook and rich in fibre.
- Processed meat – If you are a heavy red meat eater or love processed meat, you’ll need to consider removing this from your diet as it’s known to increase inflammation. Eat fish instead. It’s rich in Omega-3, and it’s good for you.
- Highly processed food – While delicious, fast food, baked goods, and breakfast cereals are highly processed foods that contain potentially inflammatory ingredients. They can also negatively impact your health and increase your risk of heart disease. Even if you love them, try to limit or altogether remove these foods from your diet.
- Foods high in salt – Research shows that cutting back on salt can positively impact your health. So avoid foods like pizza, packed soup, certain cheeses, shrimp, and processed meat, and try to limit your use of salt when cooking.
- Alcohol – Although it’s nice to cap off the day with a glass of red wine or a gin and tonic, consuming alcohol can worsen arthritis symptoms, so it’s advised you limit if not completely remove it from your diet.
- Butter and margarine – Spreads such as butter and margarine are high in advanced glycation end products (AGEs), leading to inflammation and stiffness. Because cooking with heat generates AGEs, they can be found in grilled, roasted, and fried foods. Instead, substitute butter and margarine with hummus. It does still contain AGEs but in a much smaller amount. It’s also delicious and high in protein so give it a try.
If you routinely suffer from joint pain, speak to your doctor. You could have early onset arthritis. Rather than living with the pain, get assessed. Book an appointment today. You can reach us on +264 64 218 911 or email email@example.com or find a doctor here.
Welwitschia Hospital is one of Namibia’s leading private hospitals. We are ready to assist you.