Approximately 50 million Americans deal with some form of arthritis or a related disease that causes pain. Pain is our body’s signal that something is wrong.
If you touch a hot iron and burn your finger, you feel pain, which tells you to pull your finger away from the heat. Similarly, pain in your joints tells you something is wrong. The joint tissues may be inflamed, or the cushioning cartilage and joint fluid may be so depleted that bones rub against one another with every movement.
So, what can you do to deal with arthritis pain? There are several changes you can make to your daily eating and activity habits to help you cope with arthritis pain and improve your lifestyle.
One way to help fight inflammation is to eat less of the "bad stuff," like processed and fried food, and more of the "good stuff," like veggies, fruits, nuts, tea and even small amounts of dark chocolate. These good foods can also help to decrease inflammation and weight gain, which can make a huge difference in managing joint pain.
Foods that decrease inflammation:
- Lean or low-fat sources of protein like chicken, seafood, beans, peas, nuts and seeds
- Dairy foods rich in calcium such as low-fat or skim milk, cheese and yogurt
- Dark green or orange vegetables such as spinach, greens, broccoli, sweet potatoes, squash, carrots, black beans and garbanzo beans
- Fruits that are high in antioxidants like tart cherries, blueberries and raspberries
Foods that cause more inflammation:
- Fried foods
- Foods high in sugar
- Processed foods
A 2008 study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that sedentary individuals with arthritis (both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis) who exercised twice a week for an hour experienced significant decline in pain and fatigue and improvement in their ability to manage their arthritis.
Physical activity and weight management are important and can help manage the pain and stiffness caused by many forms of arthritis. Low impact activities are best for those joints. As always, you should consult with your provider prior to starting a new exercise program.
Exercises that may help manage pain and stiffness:
- Water aerobics
- Stretching (to help flexibility and range of motion)
Whether you are working out, working in the yard or just looking for a way to be kind to your hard-working joints, it is important to minimize the trauma they experience. Here are some tips to help protect joints and keep them feeling good.
- Use good body mechanics
- Walk in supportive shoes that have a low heel
- Do not sit or stand for long periods of time
- If you need to lift objects, find someone to help, if you cannot, make them lighter loads and carry objects close to your body
Many people diagnosed with arthritis struggle with pain that affects their lifestyles. Talk with an orthopedic
or therapy provider
and start your treatment plan today.