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continued...

Other ways to alleviate pain include:

  • Using orthotics, custom-made shoe inserts that help protect knees and hips by acting as shock absorbers when walking
  • Knee bracing to help to stabilize the knee joint
  • Applying ice to the affected joint may help improve swelling, pain, and range of motion
  • Topical analgesics to relieve painful joints
  • Over-the-counter or prescription medications

In other cases, explains Mody, it may be time to talk about joint replacement surgery. “It’s important not to wait too long when that becomes necessary, because that can lead to muscle atrophy and joint contracture, and you may never really get back what you lost.”

3. When you need tools.

Much of the time, you can make your own changes to your home environment to stay as independent as possible and minimize your risk of injury. Get rid of throw rugs, put handles in the bathroom and a shower chair if necessary, and go minimalist in your decor, eliminating things like small occasional chairs and tables that block your path and giving yourself plenty of space to walk around.

But there’s a lot more that can be helpful to you. If you’re encountering a lot of difficulty managing independently at home, ask your physician for a physical/occupational therapy referral, or a home safety evaluation.

“They’re like MacGyver,” says Mody of occupational therapists. “If you have bad osteoarthritis of the hands, for example, they have assistive devices for things like doorknobs, jar lids, and writing with pens.”

4. When you’re de-feeted.

One of the biggest risks with osteoarthritis is a fall, and one of the biggest culprits in falling is bad footwear. Especially if arthritis has had an effect on the shape of your feet, you need customized shoes that will keep you comfortable andwell balanced.

“It used to be that arthritis patients had to wear these ugly orthopedic shoes,” says Mody. “Today, there’s no reason to be wearing uncomfortable, ugly or ill-fitting shoes. Talk to your doctor about meeting with a podiatrist. Life is too short to be wearing uncomfortable shoes!”

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