Osteoarthritis can make your daily activities painful and more difficult. But you don’t have to let pain and sore joints sideline your life or hobbies. While there’s no magic bullet, here are a few simple tricks and adjustments to help you feel better every day when you have OA.
Stay Healthy With OA
One of the best ways to treat your osteoarthritis is to stay as healthy as possible. Healthy habits that may improve OA symptoms include:
- Losing weight. Obesity is a key OA risk factor, especially for arthritis of the knees, hips, and spine. For each extra pound of weight, you add four pounds of pressure on your lower body. Take off 10 pounds and you subtract 40 pounds of impact with each step you take.
- Getting active. Even if you don’t need to lose weight, getting active is the best way to stay active! And if you do need to drop a few pounds, weight loss combined with regular exercise works better than weight loss alone at easing OA pain. Low-impact exercise is very beneficial for people with osteoarthritis. Try walking, biking, or the best of all possible OA workouts: swimming. It’s a no-impact way to work your cardio system and get stronger. Be sure to incorporate some strength training, too. It’s been found to ease arthritis pain by building stronger muscles to support your joints. And flexibility exercises are a must to stay limber and reduce joint stiffness.
- Eating right. A balanced, healthy diet keeps you stronger and more able to handle your day with gusto. Make sure you get plenty of important nutrients like vitamin C and other antioxidants, which may help slow progression of OA, and calcium, to decrease your risk of osteoporosis.
Ergonomics is the science of how we move, and the way that you move has a big impact on your joints.
- Adjust the way you sit. If you spend a lot of time on the computer, playing games or chatting online, make sure that you have a chair with good back support. Your feet should be flat on the floor, knees bent at 90 degrees and the top of the computer screen at eye level. If you can’t get an adjustable chair, use pillows and/or a footstool to put everything in its place.
- Take breaks. If you’re doing repetitive tasks like folding laundry or chopping vegetables, stop and stretch every 15 minutes or so.
- Lighten up -- on the household equipment you use, that is. Get a lighter vacuum or a super-light electric sweeper/mop so that you’re not lifting heavy loads to clean house.
- Use your larger, stronger joints for carrying and moving things. Try pushing rather than pulling, and bend at the knees when lifting so that you can use your legs instead of straining your back.