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Osteoarthritis Health Center

All About Osteoarthritis and Women

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

8. Take a Break. While exercise is great for helping osteoarthritis, overexertion can cause even more pain. It's important to slow down or stop when you need to. Tune in to your body, and learn when you're doing too much.

9. Catch Lots of ZZZs. Life is better when you get a good night's sleep. You feel less pain and cope better overall. If you're having trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor or physical therapist. You may need a better mattress or different sleep position. Taking your medications on a different schedule can also provide more nighttime pain relief. Take a warm bath before bedtime to relax sore muscles.

10. Get a Soothing Massage. For treatment of pain, Americans rate massage as highly as medications. One in five adults got a therapeutic massage last year -- and three-quarters of them would recommend it to others, one survey showed. Massage helps relieve pain by increasing blood flow and warmth in painful areas.

11. Take Drugs Correctly. Non-prescription painkillers like Tylenol or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like Advil or Aleve can be effective at relieving osteoarthritis pain. But it's important to take them according to label directions. "A lot of patients take one pill a day and say it's not working," says Kaur. "Before you give up on it, you must take it around the clock as directed."

Creams, rubs, and sprays applied to the skin can also help relieve pain. These can be used in addition to oral painkillers -- but use them as directed, too, to make sure you get maximum benefit. Zostrix, Icy Hot, and Bengay are among the nonprescription topical pain relievers.

12. Alternative Therapy. When conventional pain treatments don't work, many people turn to complementary or alternative therapies. Research shows that acupuncture can help relieve joint pain by stimulating natural, pain-relieving chemicals produced by the nervous system.

Glucosamine and chondroitin are well-known and researched supplements for arthritis. Both are natural substances found in joint fluid. Each is thought to stimulate the increase of cartilage production and reduce inflammation. Studies have had mixed results; one large study found that the supplement had no effect on mild osteoarthritis, but did help with moderate-to-severe arthritis. Another study found that glucosamine slowed progression of osteoarthritis in the knee.

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