Osteoarthritis is the kind of arthritis that happens when cartilage at the ends of bones breaks down, causing joint pain. It is a very common type of arthritis, and while it cannot be cured, there are several strategies for managing pain. Osteoarthritis typically occurs in joints of the hands, neck, lower back, hips and knees. Osteoarthritis has been referred to as “wear and tear arthritis” and there are several natural ways that it can be managed to enable sufferers to enjoy normal activity levels:
1. Avoid repetitive motions
Osteoarthritis is caused by frequent use, so the best way to manage pain and avoid further damage is to avoid repetitive motions in the affected area. Depending on the location and severity of the discomfort, this can be challenging. A brace, wrap, or other corrective device can be purchased and employed to prevent the most painful actions. Although restrictive, this protection helps by not allowing repetitive motions that can further damage your joints.
2. Low impact exercise
Staying active is very important in managing and minimizing osteoarthritis symptoms. When joints are inflamed or painful from repetitive or high impact movements, it can be challenging to find a suitable activity. Low impact exercises function to improve overall health while lowering the impact and stress on affected joints. Good low impact exercises include bicycling, swimming, elliptical machines and walking. Yoga can also be a good practice to implement for osteoarthritis, it works to lower overall stress levels and lengthens muscles which can lead to pain relief. The general rule with osteoarthritis and exercise is, if it causes joint pain, avoid it and find another way to get your exercise in.
3. Maintain a healthy weight
Maintaining a healthy weight is very important for those who suffer from osteoarthritis symptoms. With osteoarthritis, joints are already stressed and have lost important connective tissue, so carrying around additional body weight is particularly painful on already compromised joints. Working to maintain a healthy body weight not only alleviates additional health concerns not associated with osteoarthritis, but it lowers the stress and amount of work your body has to perform with everyday, simple tasks.
4. Control blood sugar
Maintaining healthy blood sugar levels is imperative for osteoarthritis. While not directly related, being overweight contributes to the risk of developing both type two diabetes and osteoarthritis. One of the symptoms of diabetes is joint pain, which exacerbates already existing osteoarthritis pain. Diabetes also eventually causes muscle, skeleton and nerve pain that can be challenging to manage. Staying aware of blood sugar levels and staying within the normal range will help avoid developing diabetes and all of the concerns that come along with it.
5. Eating healthy fats
Eating healthy fats is essential for treating osteoarthritis. Many fats cause inflammation but healthy fats, omega-3 fatty acids, do the opposite. These fatty acids actually decrease inflammation associated with osteoarthritis by decreasing the production of cytokines and other enzymes that break down cartilage. In addition to consuming omega-3s in foods such as fish and other seafood, there are several supplements that contain omega-3s to help you reach optimal levels.
Although it can be scary to receive an osteoarthritis diagnosis, it is very possible to manage the symptoms. Changing some aspects of your life to accommodate activity while minimizing risk to your joints leads to a healthier lifestyle, which can minimize painful arthritis symptoms.