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Osteoarthritis Health Center

All About Osteoarthritis and Women

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13 Tips: Rein in Your Osteoarthritis Pain continued...

2. Work on Your Diet. If losing weight is a goal, talk to a dietitian to get on track with healthy eating habits. Also, antioxidant and calcium supplements can boost your bone strength: Vitamin D (400 IU daily) and calcium (1,000-1,200 mg daily). Antioxidant vitamins C and E may also provide bone protection.

3. Stay Active. Exercise is hands-down the best treatment for osteoarthritis. Exercise helps you lose weight, increases flexibility, eases pain, boosts your mood, strengthens your heart, and improves blood flow. Mall walking, swimming, and water aerobics are popular because they are easy on joints. If exercise is painful at first, stay with it... it will get easier, reducing overall pain in the long run. But be sure to talk to your doctor before starting a new fitness or diet plan.

4. Get Strong. Muscles become weak when you have osteoarthritis, and that leads to more pain. By doing exercises to strengthen muscles, you ease the pain and develop greater stability in your joints -- so there's less risk of falls. Also, special exercises can increase the range of motion in your joints. Talk to your physician or physical therapist to be sure you're doing these exercises correctly.

5. Have Fun. Don't let your life be all about osteoarthritis. Get out, have a good time! When you're distracted from the pain, you'll feel happier. Sports, hobbies, volunteer projects, and other activities can take your mind off the pain. If you're having trouble participating in favorite activities, talk to an occupational therapist about your options.

6. Make Adjustments. Sensible changes can lessen the strain on joints and muscles and prevent painful spasms. If you have osteoarthritis in your back, make sure it gets good support when you sit. That means sitting in a chair to read, not reading in bed. If you have arthritis in your hip, it helps to adjust the toilet seat or furniture to a comfortable level.

7. Use Heat and Cold. Heating pads, hot packs, a warm bath or shower, warm wax (paraffin) applications -- these increase blood flow, easing pain and stiffness. Cold packs can reduce inflammation in a sore area. Many people keep bags of ice or frozen vegetables (like peas) on hand. Wrapped in a towel, these cold packs easily mold to fit a sore joint, like a knee.

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