Easy Tips to Relieve Your Arthritis Pain through Exercise and Diet
Did you know that one in five American adults and 300,000 children have arthritis? Did you know that people with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis in the United States miss a combined 172 million workdays every year? In fact, arthritis is the number one cause of disability in the U.S. May is Arthritis Awareness Month, so it’s the perfect time to think about how you can improve your life through self-care while living with the chronic pain that comes with arthritis.
There are over 100 disorders that fall under the arthritis umbrella, and all of them cause chronic pain by affecting the joints or areas around the joints. Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis and is often referred to as “wear and tear” arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is also very common. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease that affects the linings of the joints and can attack tissues in the skin, lungs, eyes, and blood vessels. People with arthritis can have mild or severe pain. The pain can be constant or occasional when flare ups occur.
There are a variety of over-the-counter and prescription creams, medication, splints, braces, and more that you can use to help ease the pain from arthritis. Talk to your health care provider about the treatment plan that is best for your individual situation. However, exercising and eating a healthy diet are two steps you can take right now that make a significant difference in chronic pain management caused by arthritis.
Exercise Tips to Relieve Arthritis Pain
People who are more than 10 pounds overweight put greater stress on their joints, particularly those that bear weight like knee and hip joints. Therefore, maintaining a healthy weight is essential to reducing the stress on painful joints. Of course, you should check with your health care provider before you start an exercise routine.
The Arthritis Foundation provides a variety of arthritis-friendly workouts and exercise videos that you can use to get started. In addition, follow the exercise tips below to relieve your arthritis pain:
- Choose a type of exercise that you actually like doing.
- Do exercises that use all of the joints affected by arthritis.
- Exercise at a regular time and place.
- Fit exercise into your normal routine by taking the stairs, not the elevator.
- Start slowly and progress slowly so you don’t overdo it or burn out.
- Always use slow and gentle movements when you exercise.
- Break your exercise up into shorter increments throughout the day.
- Always warm up and cool down for five minutes at the beginning and end of every exercise session.
- Make sure you’re not out of breath when you exercise. If you can’t speak while exercising, you need to slow down.
- If one of your joints becomes painful, red, or swollen, stop exercising.
- If you have sore joints, it can help to apply heat before you exercise and cold packs after you exercise.
- Rest your joints after exercise.
- Your focus should be on freedom of movement.
- Use relaxation techniques to ease tension in your muscles, which also relieves pain.
- Water therapy can reduce pain and stiffness, so try exercising in a pool.
Diet Tips to Relieve Arthritis Pain
A healthy diet is an important part of managing chronic pain from arthritis. Not only does excess weight cause more pain to your joints, but many foods can actually increase inflammation in the body and pain. With that in mind, follow the diet tips below to relieve your arthritis pain as much as possible:
- Eat a variety of healthy foods.
- Eat lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain foods. Follow the link to learn 10 tips to eat more fruits and veggies!
- Limit the amount of sugar you eat.
- Limit the amount of salt that you eat.
- Don’t drink more than one to two alcoholic drinks per day.
- Limit the amount of cholesterol and fat you consume. You can follow the link to learn about 10 ways to reduce cholesterol naturally.
- Make sure you get between 1,000 and 1,500 mg. of calcium every day.
- Eat cold-water fish (like salmon, trout, and tuna), flaxseeds, and/or walnuts at least two time per week. These foods are high in Omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce inflammation.
- Eat prepared foods on days that you’re having a lot of pain and can’t prepare a healthy meal. For example, buy ready-to-eat vegetables like baby carrots, and keep them on hand for days when you’re experiencing too much pain to cook.
- Ask your doctor if you should take Vitamin D, fish oil, flaxseed oil, or other supplements.
Arthritis can be hereditary, or it could be caused by overuse of joints or by injuries. Whatever the cause, arthritis sends over one million people to the hospital every year. In addition, arthritis is common among people who suffer from other conditions. According to the Arthritis Foundation:
- 57% of American adults who have heart disease also have arthritis.
- 52% of American adults who have diabetes also have arthritis.
- 44% of American adults who have high blood pressure also have arthritis.
- 36% of American adults who are obese also have arthritis.
- 33% of American adults who have arthritis and are 45 years of age or older also have either depression or anxiety.
In other words, managing chronic pain from arthritis shouldn’t be thought of in isolation because it’s inter-related with so many health conditions. The most important thing to remember is to talk to your doctor and follow the tips above to exercise and eat a healthy diet so you can ease your pain.
Another important step you can take to manage your chronic pain and other conditions is to work with a certified coach who is highly educated in helping people like you use a variety of proven strategies and techniques to live healthier and happier lives. If you’re ready to feel better than ever,