3 Strategies For Managing Osteoarthritis

Posted on: 4 May 2018

Osteoarthritis is a common joint condition that often causes pain and can limit daily functioning. Addressing the problem early can slow the destruction of the joint and possibly delay joint replacement surgery.

1. Physical Activity

Maintaining a healthy body weight and engaging in regular exercise can help many people with arthritis maintain functional fitness and reduce pain. Since regular exercise can be difficult with arthritis, especially if you have lived a sedentary lifestyle, start with exercises that are easiest on the joints. Walking is always recommended because it is low-impact as long as you are not climbing steep inclines. 

If your weight-bearing joints are affected by arthritis, do not be ashamed to use a cane or other assistive device for added support. Exercises that integrate stretching, such as yoga, are often easier on the joints and can help you maintain your range of motion. Once you are more comfortable exercising, consider adding resistance bands or weights. Building strength in the muscles surrounding an arthritic joint can also reduce pain and improve daily functioning.

2. Use Pain Medication Sparingly

Since arthritis is a chronic condition, you may frequently need pain control. Whatever medication you are using to control pain, it is important to use it sparingly. Many of the medications used, such as anti-inflammatory drugs, whether they are prescribed by your doctor or bought at the store carry a risk of gastrointestinal bleeding. 

Even if your doctor has prescribed something stronger, such as an atypical narcotic, using your medication only as directed can minimize the chance of building tolerance. Try adding other pain management tactics to help control pain. Hot and cold therapy can be used to reduce pain and/or swelling. Some people find wrapping the affected joint can also help because it offers some compression and stability.

3. Consider an Orthopedic Evaluation

Many people with long-standing arthritis will eventually need to be evaluated by a surgeon to determine the extent of their joint damage and whether surgery might provide relief. Generally, surgical options are considered after you have tried numerous non-invasive treatments, such as pain management, steroid injections, and physical therapy, but your pain and limitations are becoming worse. 

Depending on the joint that is affected by arthritis, having the joint repaired or replaced might improve pain. Another consideration is your age. Younger people with arthritis, especially in their weight-bearing joints are often discouraged from having a joint replacement due to the need for revisions later in life.

Dealing with arthritis requires tackling the problem early to minimize the amount of destruction. Maintaining a healthy body weight and low-impact exercises to keep the joint mobile can help you manage arthritis. For more information, contact your local arthritis treatment center.