The Dos and Don’ts of Managing Arthritis Pain

Arthritis can be calamitous, especially if you have always enjoyed an active lifestyle. Joint inflammation can not only have an impact on your flexibility and movement, but can result in chronic pain that affects your quality of life. Thankfully, there are ways to manage your arthritis, but there are also things you should avoid. Here are a few important dos and don’ts when it comes to arthritis pain management.

Definite Dos

Posture, physical activity, and a good mindset are at the heart of a number of arthritis management “dos.”

Stay Active

Weak muscles can aggravate points in your joints, and weak muscles are often the result of inactivity. While you may be tempted to avoid physical activity because of joint pain, constant joint movements actually work to strengthen the muscles around your knees and other joints and ease the pain of arthritis. People have asked if walking makes arthritis worse. Actually, lower impact exercises such as walking, swimming, and stationary cycling can do all this as well as enhance joint flexibility and improve range of motion. If you are just starting out in a physical therapy program or have not been a fitness junkie historically, you can start with gentle stretching exercises and work your way up.

Mind Your Posture

Bad posture puts undue stress on your joints and can lead to further arthritic progression. You may not have noticed any posture problems pre-arthritis, but there’s no time like the present to remedy your posture issues. Train yourself not to slouch. Open your shoulders and keep your back straight as you walk or move. It may help to try posture-enhancing insoles in your shoes to help you hold your body in a balanced way and to avoid putting pressure on your knees.

Quit Smoking

While the link to arthritis may not be obvious, smoking does have a negative impact on your joints. Not only do harmful substances in cigarettes and cigarette smoke tend to irritate connective tissues around joints, but certain toxins may cause other joint problems. Also, it is a lot easier and more comfortable to exercise with greater lung capacity and better breathing.

Get to and/or Maintain a Healthy Weight

If you are overweight, you may be putting extra pressure on your joints, which will increase the pain you feel from arthritis. Regular exercise will definitely help, but you should also look at your diet; not just for weight loss, but to get optimal nutrition for your joints and muscles. Vitamin C, for example, can help regulate inflammation and prevent damage to cartilage. Foods like fish, cruciferous vegetables, nuts, ginger, and turmeric have anti-inflammatory properties.

Stay Positive

This is not so much about maintaining a cheerful outlook as it is about not giving up on arthritis pain management. There are a variety of ways to manage arthritis pain. In addition to diet and physical activity, there are medications for pain relief and to reduce joint swelling. There is also physical and massage therapy. Stay the course, and you will notice a difference.

Decisive Don’ts

Knowing what activities make arthritis worse and what triggers arthritis attacks will go a long way in terms of arthritis pain management. Here are a few important “don’ts.”

Avoid Strenuous and High Impact Activities

While regular exercise, as described in the “do” section, can help with arthritis pain, overdoing it can make things much worse. Avoid exercises with a lot of jumping and running, such as tennis, skiing, and gymnastics. Activities that involve your feet leaving the ground may also result in injury, which will only exacerbate your arthritis symptoms. You should also avoid exercises with repetitive motions, which increase stress on joints. 

Don’t Eat Foods That Trigger Inflammation

Just as there are foods and substances that reduce inflammation, there are foods and substances that cause it. It is best to avoid things that are high in sugar, salt, and monosodium glutamate (MSG), as well as meat cooked at high temperatures (such as grilled and fried meat dishes). 

Do Not Engage in Heavy Alcohol Consumption

Apart from encouraging weight gain through empty calories, drinking a lot of alcohol can increase your risk of medical conditions and counteract certain medications. 

Effective Arthritis Pain Management

Arthritis pain management doesn’t have to be onerous. By following these simple dos and don’ts, you can stave off arthritis attacks and decrease the joint pain associated with arthritis. Talk to our pain management experts for more ways to manage your arthritis pain