Do you or a loved one struggle with arthritis? According to the Arthritis Foundation, nearly 53 million adults in the United States have some form of arthritis, making it a prevalent condition affecting millions nationwide. Although more common in older adults, especially women, it is important to recognize that arthritis can afflict people of all ages and genders. But what exactly is arthritis, and how can you manage its symptoms effectively?

At Davis Orthopedics, we understand how debilitating arthritis can be. This May, during Arthritis Awareness Month, we want to help you understand what arthritis is and give you tips on managing and treating its symptoms.

What is Arthritis?

Arthritis is a condition characterized by inflammation, often progressing from smaller to larger joints. The most common types are osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). OA typically develops in old age as cartilage naturally wears down, while RA occurs when the immune system attacks joint cartilage, leading to inflammation.

The symptoms of arthritis include:

  • Joint pain
  • Joint stiffness (especially in the morning)
  • Swelling
  • Reduced range of motion

This condition can affect various joints, including the following:

  • Hands
  • Knees
  • Hips
  • Neck
  • Lower back

While there are many types of arthritis, this article focuses on living with OA, the most common form that predominantly affects older individuals. OA is a joint disease that results from the gradual breakdown of joint tissues over time. While it can be painful, proactive management through education and self-care can significantly improve symptoms, enabling individuals to maintain an active lifestyle.

8 Tips On How To Manage and Treat Arthritis

Managing and treating arthritis involves a comprehensive approach to improving joint function, preventing further damage, and enhancing overall quality of life. Here are some additional tips to help you effectively manage arthritis:

1. Nutrition

A balanced diet is essential for overall health and can significantly impact arthritis symptoms. Incorporating anti-inflammatory foods into your meals, such as:

  • Fatty fish rich in omega-3 fatty acid
  • Nuts, seeds
  • Leafy greens

These foods can help reduce inflammation and support joint health. Additionally, lean proteins provide essential nutrients for muscle repair and maintenance. By prioritizing a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and omega-3s, you can optimize your body’s ability to combat inflammation and promote joint wellness.

2. Exercise Regularly

Regular physical activity is crucial for managing arthritis symptoms and maintaining joint function. Engaging in low-impact exercises like walking, swimming, or tai chi can help strengthen muscles, improve flexibility, and alleviate joint pain. These activities provide gentle yet effective movement, reducing stiffness and enhancing overall mobility. By incorporating regular exercise into your routine, you can improve joint health and enjoy a more active lifestyle.

3. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Excess weight can exacerbate arthritis symptoms by adding stress to weight-bearing joints such as the knees and hips. Therefore, maintaining a healthy weight is essential for managing arthritis effectively. You can reduce joint strain and alleviate discomfort by shedding excess pounds through healthy eating and regular exercise. Focus on adopting lifestyle changes that promote sustainable weight loss, such as portion control, mindful eating, and consistent physical activity.

4. Physical Therapy

Working with a physical therapist can be instrumental in managing arthritis symptoms and improving joint function. A skilled therapist can develop a personalized exercise program tailored to your needs and goals. Through targeted exercises and techniques, physical therapy aims to strengthen muscles, improve range of motion, and reduce pain. You can consistently follow a customized physical therapy regimen to enhance joint stability, regain mobility, and optimize overall function.

5. Assistive Devices

Incorporating assistive devices into your daily routine can provide valuable support and alleviate strain on affected joints. Splints, braces, and orthotic inserts are designed to stabilize joints, reduce pain, and improve overall function. You can identify suitable assistive devices by consulting with your healthcare provider. Whether you require extra support during physical activities or daily tasks, these devices can enhance comfort and mobility, allowing you to maintain an active lifestyle.

6. Mind-Body Practices

Mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, and guided imagery are powerful tools for managing arthritis-related stress and pain. These mind-body practices promote relaxation, reduce muscle tension, and improve coping skills. Incorporating these techniques into your daily routine can cultivate a greater sense of calm and well-being. Additionally, mindfulness-based stress reduction programs can provide valuable support and teach practical strategies for managing arthritis symptoms.

7. Explore Medication Options

Consulting with your healthcare provider about medication options can help manage arthritis symptoms and improve your quality of life. Pain-relieving medications, supplements, or injections may be recommended based on your needs and preferences. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help reduce pain and inflammation, while corticosteroid injections may provide targeted relief for swollen joints. Additionally, dietary supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate have been shown to support joint health in some individuals. By discussing treatment options with your healthcare provider, you can make informed decisions about managing arthritis symptoms.

8. Implement Lifestyle Modifications

Incorporating ergonomic habits and lifestyle modifications can help minimize strain on affected joints and reduce arthritis-related discomfort. Simple adjustments, such as maintaining proper posture, practicing joint protection techniques, and using adaptive tools, can make daily tasks easier and more comfortable. By adopting ergonomic habits and prioritizing joint health in your daily activities, you can minimize stress on your joints and optimize overall function.

Arthritis can present significant challenges, but with the right knowledge and support, individuals can effectively manage its symptoms and lead fulfilling lives. If you’re experiencing joint pain or suspect you may have arthritis, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with Davis Orthopedics for personalized care and treatment options. Your journey to relief starts here.