While there are more than 100 types of arthritis, the two most common forms of the condition are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis typically develops as people get older and affects the fingers, knees and hips. But the doctors at the Los Alamitos Medical Center know that rheumatoid arthritis can affect not only joints and bones, but also internal organs and systems when the body’s own defense system stops working properly. Regardless of the type of arthritis, coping with the pain, inflammation and stiffness that often accompany the condition can be difficult. But you can manage symptoms through medications, exercise and other ways to make living with arthritis a little bit easier.
You can start by talking with your Los Alamitos Medical Center doctor about your symptoms. If you have arthritis, it is important to get an accurate diagnosis as early as possible to start treatment that can possibly prevent joint damage and lessen pain. Take medications as prescribed or over-the-counter drugs as necessary for occasional pain. Don’t stop taking a medication because you think it is not working or is causing side effects. Sometimes it can take weeks or months to realize the full benefits of a medication or for side effects to ease.
Exercise on a regular basis to help lessen pain, reduce fatigue, increase range of motion, and improve sense of wellbeing. Be sure to include flexibility exercises to enhance movement, aerobic exercises for endurance, and strengthening exercises for muscle fitness. Select low-impact activities that help build joint muscles without harming the joints themselves, such as walking, cycling, yoga, Tai chi or water aerobics.
Avoid additional stress on joints by using assistive devices that can make things more manageable, including rubber jar openers, zipper pulls, buttoning aids or handrails in the bathroom. Since one pound of additional weight can add four pounds of pressure on each knee, maintaining a healthy weight can help protect joints by relieving damaging pressure on hips and knees. Choose comfortable, padded, well-fitting shoes that don’t cramp your toes.
Try to start the day off right with a nutritious breakfast that includes fruit, fiber such as oatmeal, and a big glass of orange juice instead of coffee. Oranges and other citrus fruits that have vitamin C and other antioxidants can help reduce the risk of
osteoarthritis and the progression of the condition, as well as lower the chances of developing cardiovascular disease in women who have lupus. Be sure to get enough calcium because inflammatory arthritis conditions can accelerate bone loss. The recommended daily dosage amounts for calcium are 1,000 mg for adults age 50 and younger and 1,200 mg for adults over 50. Look for calcium supplements that include vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium.
A few other ways to make living with arthritis easier include wearing sunscreen because some kinds of arthritis and certain medications can make you more vulnerable to the sun’s harmful rays, taking a warm bath or shower to reduce muscle tension and ease aching joints, and treating yourself to a massage by a certified therapist to increase circulation and lessen muscle spasms. For more information about living with arthritis, talk with your doctor or call 800-548-5559 for a free referral to a rheumatologist near you.