Achy knees? Stiff fingers? Painful hips? Unfortunately, there still is no cure for arthritis. But there are plenty of steps you can take to manage the pain.
Doctors recommend several nonprescription pain relievers for arthritis. These include acetaminophen, aspirin, and ibuprofen. Glucosamine and chondroitin also can be bought without a prescription. Some studies have shown that both of these supplements may help ease the pain of osteoarthritis in knees and hips. But experts stress that more research is needed.
Heat or cold packs may offer relief. Ask your doctor what’s best for you.
EXERCISE AND WEIGHT CONTROL
Doctors recommend range-of-motion, strengthening, and aerobic exercises for arthritis sufferers. The following tips will help keep your workout safe:
• Work out when your pain is less severe and your joints are more flexible.
• Take frequent breaks, and change position regularly. Be sure to stretch muscles before and after working them.
• Ask your doctor to adjust your exercise program if you show any of the signs of too much exercise. These include increased weakness or joint swelling, unusual fatigue, decreased range of motion, or pain that lasts longer than an hour after exercising.
Another benefit of exercise for arthritis sufferers is that it helps keep weight in check. Being overweight can put extra stress on joints. Shedding excess pounds cuts down the wear and tear on joint tissues, and it also can help relieve pain and stiffness.
PROTECT YOUR JOINTS
Canes, crutches, and walkers can make walking less of a strain on your knees and hips. To protect other joints, use larger and stronger joints whenever possible. For example, carry grocery bags with your forearms or palms instead of your fingers.
From jar openers to long-handled shoehorns, many items on the market can make daily activities easier on sore joints.
Using a splint for a short time around painful joints can reduce pain and swelling. Ask your doctor if you should use one.
OTHER THERAPIES THAT MAY HELP
Many sufferers find relief by using one or more of the following measures:
• Soaking and exercising in a pool or whirlpool to cut pain and stiffness
• Relaxation therapy to release tension in muscles
• Massage therapy to increase joint motion and muscle and tendon flexibility
Ask your doctor which measures might help you. Your treatment plan should be tailored to fit your own particular symptoms..
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