When you are living with the effects of arthritis, you can find ways to effectively control your symptoms. By making a few lifestyle changes and following your physician's instructions, you may find your quality of life can change. Here are a few smart ways to keep arthritis pain at bay and enjoy more freedom and mobility.
1. Discuss Treatment Options With Your Doctor
Ask your health care provider about options for effectively and safely controlling your condition. Your doctor will most likely evaluate your case and possibly take x-rays or other tests. You may also be asked a few questions such as what symptoms you are experiencing and what activities make those symptoms more pronounced. The doctor will note whether there is swelling and inflammation.
Once you have been evaluated, your health care provider can set a treatment plan in motion. Following a self-care routine may help prevent further joint damage as well as alleviate your discomfort.
If your physician prescribes medication to relieve your inflammation and pain, take it according to the directions. Medications may include pain relievers such as ibuprofen which may also reduce inflammation. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are another option.
In more severe cases of inflammation that do not respond well to NSAIDs, steroids may be prescribed. Keep in mind that steroids are a powerful drug that should be taken according to doctor's instructions. Steroids often have some risks and side effects, so speak with your doctor if you have concerns. As an alternative to an oral steroid, your doctor may suggest a steroid injection.
2. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Being overweight places extra stress on joints, especially in the knees, hips, and lower back. If you have arthritis of the knees or lower back, try to lose weight if need be. Once you shed the excess weight, your pain should decrease, and you may find that your mobility is better as well. For your health and safety, only attempt a weight loss program under the supervision of a doctor.
As part of a healthy weight loss program, watch your diet and get more exercise if you can. Choose a low impact activity that will not place stress on the joints. Walking is a good option, and swimming is another good choice.
3. Consider Aquatic Therapy
If you find that walking is placing stress on your feet, consider the benefits of aqua therapy. Water therapy, also known as hydrotherapy, is a low impact activity that may soothe your painful joints and restore some mobility. Swelling may also be reduced. You might submerge yourself in the tub, swimming pool, or even the local lake if the weather permits.
You might also consider taking a special aquatic water therapy class in your neighborhood. Classes are typically taught by a trained instructor.
4. Enjoy a Massage
Many studies have been conducted touting the benefits of massage on individuals with arthritis. You may find that a simple massage helps ease your arthritis pain and improve your range of motion. Try a relaxing massage at your favorite spa or during physical therapy. If you prefer, enlist the aid of a loved one or friend to give you a massage.
Although massage may be helpful in controlling your arthritis pain, this option does not work for everyone. If you have high blood pressure, varicose veins, a skin rash, or brittle bones, massage may not be a suitable option. Ask your doctor for advice.
Always seek medical advice before undergoing any major lifestyle change or trying a new treatment approach. Schedule an appointment with your health care provider at the B-L Family Practice P.A. and begin to enjoy a better quality of life.