The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that almost half of all people age 65 or older have arthritis – the pain and swelling in one or more joints. If you are bothered by the condition, it may surprise you to know that arthritis is not a single disease: it’s a term for more than 100 medical conditions, known collectively as rheumatic diseases. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis among seniors and affects over 27 million Americans. Gout and rheumatoid arthritis are other common forms of the condition.
You likely already know from personal experience that arthritis can make it difficult to do everyday activities. Pressure applied to a joint — like a handshake from a friend or the simple task of trying to open a jar — causes pain. Getting up in the morning can be difficult due to stiffness that lasts up to 30 minutes. Discomfort and fatigue are common symptoms.
Want to feel more in control of your health and feel better despite arthritis? Try these tips:
- Get Moving: Studies show that exercise can mitigate and relieve inflammation and help reduce arthritis pain and stiffness. Talk to your doctor and then try some low-impact activities like walking, biking, tai chi, yoga and swimming.
- Get a Massage: A regular massage can improve circulation through the joints, reduce swelling and pain and increase mobility.
- Get Smart About Medication: There are many prescription and over-the-counter remedies to help manage arthritis pain. Talk to your doctor about what could work best for you:
- Pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), aspirin or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) may help.
- Topical creams that contain active ingredients like menthol (Bengay, Stopain) or capsaicin (Capzasin, Zostrix) can be applied directly to painful areas.
- Prescription painkillers, including Celebrex, may be necessary if arthritis symptoms are severe.
- Get on Board with Gadgets: Assistive products are designed to make daily living tasks easier on the joints. Look for these devices in the hardware store, pharmacy or online:
- Supportive devices like splints, braces and shoe inserts are designed to give you more stability and reduce discomfort.
- Mobility devices like canes, transfer aids, carts, scooters and walkers help with safe mobility and keep you independent.
- Assistive devices like faucet levers, grabbers, dressing aids and more can help make everyday activities easier to accomplish.
- Get Into Fruits and Vegetables: Antioxidants can reduce inflammation and moderate pain. Make it a habit to include berries, apples, pomegranates, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli in your menu planning.
- Get Rid of Foods That Cause Inflammation: Research suggests that certain foods can trigger inflammation. Avoid or limit fried and processed foods and refined carbohydrates such as products made with white flour and white potatoes.
Living with arthritis can be challenging but you can take control and manage your symptoms. See you doctor regularly to stay current with medical advances and to track your progress.
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