People who have been diagnosed with the disease frequently experience swelling, stiffness, decreased mobility, and pain. Fortunately, there are ways for arthritis sufferers to feel more comfortable. Below, we provide tips for arthritis pain management that may offer you relief:
1. Warm Water
Bubble baths aren’t just relaxing, luxurious soaks. The warm bath water also minimizes arthritis pain by reducing the force of gravity that’s compressing the joint, offering support for sore limbs, and decreasing inflammation. To get the maximum benefit, plan to take a 20-minute warm—not hot—bath and do some gentle stretching once you get out.
It might seem counterintuitive to suggest that arthritis sufferers exercise. Shouldn’t they be resting their joints instead? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the answer is “No.” Not only does physical activity reduce arthritis pain, but it also increases mobility. The CDC offers the following exercise guidelines for people with arthritis:
- 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity per week OR
- 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic activity per week OR
- An equivalent combination of moderate and intense activity
Furthermore, the CDC also recommends muscle strengthening activities at least twice a week and balance exercises three days a week for those who are at risk of falls.2
Not sure how to get your cardio in? There are a number of group exercise programs designed specifically for people with arthritis. Check out your local library or store for videos, or the Arthritis Foundation has some available online as well! However, before beginning any physical activity, consult with your physician.
3. Quit Smoking
Just say no to nicotine! Smoking places stress on connective tissue which leads to arthritic pain.3 Furthermore, researchers have found that cigarettes are linked to the development of more severe rheumatoid arthritis.4 If you’re ready to kick the habit, talk to your doctor for suggestions about the best way to go about doing so. He may prescribe medication to make the process easier.
4. Weight Loss
Extra pounds create additional stress on your joints. Fortunately, losing even a small amount of weight can significantly reduce joint pain. A 2005 study of overweight adults with knee arthritis published in Arthritis & Rheumatology found that losing one pound of weight resulted in four pounds of pressure being removed from the knees.5 A ten-pound loss would relieve 40 pounds of pressure!
Consider engaging in a medically-approved diet and exercise program that will allow you to reduce excess weight gradually. Your joints will thank you!
There are a number of different medications doctors use to reduce arthritic pain. For instance, analgesics minimize pain, while non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) alleviate inflammation and discomfort. Steroids mimic the effects of the hormone cortisol and are often used in cases of extreme inflammation.
Consult with your doctor for medication advice. He may recommend an over-the-counter pain reliever, NSAIDs, steroid injections, an analgesic salve, or some combination of these.
An arthritis diagnosis doesn’t have to mean a life of chronic pain. Many people with arthritis have found relief by taking medication, exercising, quitting smoking, losing weight and enjoying warm bubble baths. These activities may be beneficial for you as well. While you always want to check with your physician before beginning a new health regimen, a bubble bath may be just what the doctor orders for arthritis pain management!
1 Arthritis Foundation. What Is Arthritis? Arthritis.org. Available at http://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/understanding-arthritis/what-is-arthritis.php. Accessed August 5, 2015.2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Physical Activity for Arthritis Fact Sheet. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/pa_factsheet.htm. Accessed August 5, 2015.
3 Mayo Clinic. Arthritis Pain Do’s and Don’ts. Available at http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/arthritis/in-depth/arthritis/art-20046440. Accessed August 5, 2015.
4 WebMD. Cigarettes Cause More Severe Arthritis. Available at http://www.webmd.com/rheumatoid-arthritis/news/20020315/cigarettes-cause-more-severe-arthritis. Accessed August 5, 2015.
5 Messier SP, Gutekunst D, Davis C, DeVita P. “Weight Loss Reduces Knee-Joint Loads in Overweight and Obese Older Adults with Knee Osteoarthritis.” Arthritis & Rheumatology. July 2005. Available at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/art.21139/full. Accessed October 13, 2015.