Hard as it might be to believe, some of your everyday habits could actually be making your arthritis pain worse. From gradual weight gain to giving in to the temptation not to exercise, your lifestyle choices could be doing more harm to your aching knees and other painful joints than you realize.
Take charge of your condition by trying the following 10 arthritis pain control habits to help achieve arthritis pain relief.
1. Control Weight Gain
Has the needle on your scale been inching up? Your aching knees may be responding directly to that weight gain. Being overweight or obese means your joints must carry a greater load, and this causes the wear and tear that characterizes osteoarthritis. If you want arthritis pain relief, losing even 10 pounds will help.
2. Get Up and Move
Lounging may be a good thing for a Sunday afternoon, but if it is a daily habit, you may actually be adding to your arthritis pain. It sounds counterintuitive, but don’t use aching knees or other joint pain as an excuse for being physically inactive.
Although arthritis can make it difficult to get started with an exercise plan, it is important that you do so. Water-based activities are especially good for arthritis pain relief. Not near a pool? Increasing the distance you walk every day can help.
3. Do It, But Don't Overdo It
If running one mile is good for arthritis, then winning marathons is better, right? Wrong. Pushing yourself too hard puts you at risk for joint injury and increased joint pain. So be active, but stick to a moderate pace and try to build a variety of activities into your life. Gentle exercise can delay the onset of arthritis even in people with a strong genetic predisposition for it, and can help you stay mobile after arthritis sets in.
4. Avoid Repetitive Motion
The tasks we do throughout the workday make it difficult to achieve arthritis pain control. This is especially true when those tasks involve repetitive joint motions. You might be surprised by who gets arthritis because of this phenomenon.
Truck drivers, for example, may develop osteoarthritis of the spine from their daily tasks, explains rheumatologist Jamal A. Mikdashi, MD, associate professor of medicine at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore. Take breaks during the day to do simple stretches that will help you work better.
5. Don't Pass Up Healthy Fats
Omega-3 fatty acids can play a role in arthritis pain relief, says rheumatologist Bonita S. Libman, MD, an associate professor of rheumatology and clinical immunology at the University of Vermont in Burlington. These fats have anti-inflammatory properties similar to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
You need fairly high daily doses (2,000 to 3,000 milligrams) to achieve pain relief. Take supplements and try to eat foods, such as salmon, that contain these healthy fats naturally. Make sure you tell your doctor about these and any other supplements that you’re taking.
6. Get More Vitamin D
You may not consciously be avoiding vitamin D, but if you religiously wear sunblock and tend not to eat eggs, dairy, or sardines, you probably don’t get enough of this essential vitamin.
Preliminary research suggests that if you don’t get enough vitamin D, which plays a key role in keeping bones healthy, you are at greater risk for joint pain and arthritis. Consider taking a supplement as well as amping up the vitamin D food sources in your diet.
7. Take Your Arthritis Medications
Missing a dose of your arthritis medication will mean that there is a gap in your arthritis pain control. It’s easy to skip a dose if you are feeling good at any given moment, but you might pay later in joint pain and aching knees. Whether your medications are prescription or over-the-counter, you should take them exactly as your doctor directed.
8. Stop Putting Up With Clutter
Fall prevention is essential as you get older. If you already have arthritis, compensating for joint pain and stiffness could make you unsteady and put you at greater risk of falling. So it won’t help to have clutter creating tripping hazards that add to your challenges. Tripping and falling may add to existing joint pain or create new damage to a joint. Learn how to prevent falls at home and at work.
9. Get Good Sleep
A lack of sleep and arthritis pain combine to create a vicious circle. Studies show that people who haven’t had enough sleep the night before are more likely to report all kinds of pain, including joint pain, the next day. Unfortunately, for many people with arthritis, sleep is a challenge because joint pain wakes them up. Nonetheless, sleep is important. Talk to your doctor about arthritis pain control that can help make sleep possible.
10. Stamp Out Stress
You don’t need us to tell you, but it’s a crazy, stressful world, especially if you are living with aching knees or joint pain. The problem is that stress can make your arthritis pain worse. Many people with joint pain feel their pain more deeply because their muscles tense up to protect the joint.
If you are stressed, your overall physical tension can be greater, magnifying joint and muscle pain. So take a deep breath, and try to let all that stress go. Meditation, massage, and acupuncture are all good options.