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Osteoarthritis Health Center

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National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

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What You Can Do: The Importance of Self-Care and a Good-Health Attitude continued...

Most people with osteoarthritis exercise best when their pain is least severe. Start with an adequate warm-up and begin exercising slowly. Resting frequently ensures a good workout and reduces the risk of injury.

Before beginning any type of exercise program, consult your doctor or physical therapist to learn which exercises are appropriate for you and how to do them correctly, because doing the wrong exercise or exercising improperly can cause problems. A health care professional can also advise you on how to warm up safely and when to avoid exercising a joint affected by arthritis.

3. Eat well: Though no specific diet will necessarily make your arthritis better, eating right and controlling your weight can help by minimizing stress on the weightbearing joints such as the knees and the joints of the feet. It can also minimize your risk of developing other health problems.

Exercises for Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis Exercises

People with osteoarthritis should do different kinds of exercise for different benefits to the body. Consult your health professional before starting.

4. Get plenty of sleep: Getting a good night’s sleep on a regular basis can minimize pain and help you cope better with the effects of your disease. If arthritis pain makes it difficult to sleep at night, speak with your doctor and/or physical therapist about the best mattress or comfortable sleeping positions or the possibility of timing medications to provide more pain relief at night. You may also improve your sleep by getting enough exercise early in the day; avoiding caffeine or alcoholic beverages at night; keeping your bedroom dark, quiet, and cool; and taking a warm bath to relax and soothe sore muscles at bedtime.

5. Have fun: While having osteoarthritis certainly isn’t fun, it doesn’t mean you have to stop having fun. If arthritis makes it difficult to participate in favorite activities, ask an occupational therapist about new ways to do them. Activities such as sports, hobbies, and volunteer work can distract your mind from your own pain and make you a happier, more well-rounded person.

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