Arthritis cannot be cured but that doesn’t mean you have to tolerate the severe pain & diminished quality of life it can cause. Movement was once thought to be bad for arthritic joints, but just the opposite is true. Exercise helps ease pain & stiffness. In fact, exercise can be crucial for increasing strength and flexibility, reducing joint pain, and helping combat fatigue
Here are a few tips to help relieve arthritis pain when it flares up in different areas of the body. Always check with your physician for the best treatment for your individual condition.
Wrists & Hands
Each hand contains 27 bones and each wrist 8 bones. Over time, arthritis causes people to lose cartilage – the connective tissue between joints. When the buffer between the bones is gone, the bones rub against each other, causing simple, everyday tasks to become painful.
Wearing a wrist splint at night can help support joints while you sleep.
Range of motion exercises can be done a few times each day to enhance strength & mobility. Clasp and unclasp your fingers, rotate your wrists, & touch the tips of each finger to your thumb. Google “hand arthritis exercises” for a wealth of examples.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, close to half of the people in their sixties and seventies suffer from arthritis foot pain. Our feet take a lot of abuse. The base of the big toe is a common site for arthritis pain.
Wear comfortable, well-fitting shoes. Low heels and good arch support will help ease pain.
Stretch your Achilles tendon (the cord at the back of your heel) as well as the tendons in the balls of your feet and toes. A good exercise for arthritic feet can be as simple as wiggling your toes. Toe wiggling makes good use of TV commercial breaks.
When the hips are affected by arthritis, everything from bending over to climbing stairs can become painful. Start your day with exercises that stretch your hips. Try lying on your back, then slowly raising one bent knee toward your chest until you feel the stretch. Regular hip exercises may even prevent or delay hip replacement.
Arthritic knees can compromise your ability to bend, walk, run & climb, limiting everything from housecleaning to gardening to sports involvement.
Weight loss can reduce hip, knee & foot pain in those who are overweight.
For active people, make the switch from high-impact sports that require a lot of fast sudden movements to low-impact activities such as swimming or cycling. Yoga is great for increasing strength & flexibility.
Both osteo & rheumatoid arthritis can cause an erosion of the cartilage or inflammation of the joints in the spine. Back pain can make even simple activities a chore.
Heat & cold therapy has been proven to reduce pain more effectively than over-the-counter pain medications. Heating pads, heating pack and warm baths can all be beneficial.
Water-based therapy in a heated pool can help to relieve pain and strengthen back muscles.
Cervical arthritis can lead to the degeneration of vertebrae in your neck. This results in pain, muscle fatigue, stiffness, headaches and may even compromise your sense of balance.
Neck arthritis responds well to strength training, which may improve your range of motion and reduce pain. Simple resistance exercises are easy and require no equipment.
Sit or stand using good upright posture. Place your hands against your forehead and apply light resistance while pushing your forehead into your palms. Place your hands behind your head and pull gently forward while pressing your head back. Press your right palm into your right temple while pushing your ear right ear toward your right shoulder. Repeat on the left side.
As the old adage goes, “move it or lose it”! Keep moving to reduce arthritis pain and maintain a healthy quality of life.