Arthritis refers to joint pain or joint disease. It is a group of conditions that are found in people of all ages. However, it is usually associated with aging. Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis found in older adults. The condition occurs when cartilage in joints wears away, causing bones to rub together.
Patients with osteoarthritis can experience several symptoms, including stiffness, swelling, pain, and tenderness. They may also notice a crunching feeling or sound that occurs when bone rubs on bone.
Osteoarthritis often affects the neck, lower back, hands, and weight-bearing joints like the feet, hips, and knees.
Sadly, there is no cure for arthritis. Some people live with the condition for years. The only solution we currently have is to find ways to reduce pain and inflammation. Methods can range from medication to holistic treatments and lifestyle changes.
What can you do to ease the pain of arthritis?
Maintain a Healthy Body Weight
Being overweight increases your chances of developing arthritis. The extra weight puts pressure on joints, especially the knees. According to John Hopkins assistant professor of rheumatology Kevin Fontaine, “Being just 10 pounds overweight increases the force on your knees by 30 to 40 pounds with every step you take.”
Whether you have arthritis or are concerned about getting it later in life, now is the best time to manage your body weight. A healthy weight will also improve other aspects of your health and lower your risk of injury and illness.
Make Exercise a Part of Your Week
Exercise is a good way to ease arthritis pain. It may sound counterintuitive but moving your body can reduce joint pain. Stronger muscles provide better support while a good workout improves bone strength, balance, and energy levels. It also helps you sleep better at night, which can do wonders for your health.
It is best to talk to your doctor before starting a workout routine. A medical professional can assess your health status and let you know if you should avoid any specific exercises.
Stick with workouts that are low impact like Yoga or Pilates. Aerobic exercises like swimming, walking, and bicycling are also good choices.
If you reside in an assisted living community, check the activity calendar to see if fitness groups or classes are available. Many schedule senior-friendly workouts that are ideal for people with arthritis and other age-related conditions.
Lower Inflammation with Hot and Cold Therapy
Hot and cold can help soothe aching joints. Use a heating pad or take a hot bath to ease pain temporarily. Make sure the water or pad is warm, but not so hot that it will burn you. A heating pad should only be used for 20 minutes at a time and only while you are awake.
If you experience inflammation after exercise, try applying an ice pack or something cold to relieve pain.
Quit Smoking and Don’t Start the Habit
The dangers of smoking are well documented, but many people still do it. It’s a habit that is hard to shake. Seniors with arthritis have another reason to quit.
People who smoke have higher levels of cytokines or inflammatory proteins. These contribute to organ and joint damage that comes with rheumatoid arthritis. Smokers are also less likely to experience remission. Stop smoking now to give your body the best chance to recover.
Try Relaxation Techniques Like Meditation
Relaxation can help with arthritis and other conditions. Meditation and breathing techniques are commonly used to help people cope with pain. These methods make you more aware of your thoughts and feelings. Being mindful helps you manage your view of stress, which has an impact on how your body responds to it.
By distancing your emotions from the situation, you can lower stress levels and reduce or even prevent the physical reactions that they can trigger.
Eat a Nutritious, Senior-Friendly Diet
Exercise and a good diet can work wonders for the human body. Not only is food essential to maintaining a healthy body weight, but it can also affect inflammation. Look for foods that are anti-inflammatory with antioxidants. Research indicates that the right diet can help lower arthritis pain for some seniors.
A good way to start is to make sure you have omega-3 on your menu. Good sources of omega-3 include salmon, tuna, mackerel, and sardines. The Arthritis Foundation recommends a three to four-ounce serving of fish two or more times per week to get the desired effect and protect the heart.
Other beneficial foods include berries, pomegranates, olive oil, ginger, turmeric, nuts, and vegetables.
Follow Doctor’s Orders and Take Medications
Your doctor knows what is best for your health. You should always follow their recommendations and take prescribed medications. Your doctor may also recommend an over-the-counter medicine to help manage pain.
If you have trouble keeping up with medications, moving into an assisted living community can help. Most offer medication management services that ensure residents get the treatment they need every day without worrying about under or overdosing.
Avoid Putting Excess Stress on Joints
Joint strain can cause further discomfort for people who already have arthritis. It’s best to be mindful of how you use your joints to protect them as much as possible. Consider the type of physical activity you plan to do before doing it.
Moving is a good thing for seniors with arthritis, so a diagnosis doesn’t mean you shouldn’t move at all. Stretching and exercise can ease pain and help adults stay fit and healthy.
Move to an Assisted Living Community
Assisted living communities offer amenities and services that are ideal for people with arthritis. These facilities are built for the convenience and comfort of seniors who may have chronic pain and mobility limitations.
Visit Casas Senior Assisted Living now to learn more about how the right community can make life easier for aging adults with arthritis.