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Quiz: Do You Know How to Relieve Your OA Pain?

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Eating oranges and grapefruit triggers osteoarthritis pain.

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Eating oranges and grapefruit triggers osteoarthritis pain.

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There are a lot of myths around food and osteoarthritis pain. One is that citrus foods trigger inflammation, which then triggers pain. In fact, oranges and grapefruit are rich in vitamin C, which may reduce pain and help keep OA from progressing.

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Which has been shown to soothe osteoarthritis pain?

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Which has been shown to soothe osteoarthritis pain?

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Good news, music lovers. Studies of people who have chronic pain from osteoarthritis show that they feel more in charge of their lives, are less depressed, and have less pain if they listen to music every day. Remedies such as copper bracelets and dandelion greens lack the scientific evidence to back them up.

If you have pain and fatigue, you should avoid physical exercise.

If you have pain and fatigue, you should avoid physical exercise.

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It may seem that your body is telling you to sit on the sidelines, but you may feel better if you get into the game. Regular exercise can lower your pain and raise your energy. If pain is getting in the way of physical activity, apply heat or ice 20 minutes before you start. For fatigue, ease up on how hard or long you exercise until your energy returns.

Who is at risk for osteoarthritis?

Who is at risk for osteoarthritis?

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The estimated 27 million people in the U.S. who have osteoarthritis include men and women, young and old. But some people are more likely to develop OA than others. Athletes and people with jobs that require a lot of repetitive motion are at higher risk because of injuries and stress on joints. Obesity and aging also increase risk.

It's only osteoarthritis if the pain is in your knee or hip.

It's only osteoarthritis if the pain is in your knee or hip.

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Osteoarthritis does tend to strike in the knees and hips, as well as in the fingers and spine. But it can develop in any joint where cartilage wears away and the bones lose their cushioning.

Which is best for relieving osteoarthritis pain?

Which is best for relieving osteoarthritis pain?

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Heating pads and bags of frozen peas are two low-cost ways to relieve OA pain. Cold usually works well to reduce inflammation and pain. For stiff joints or muscles, heat is the way to go. But you can experiment to see which works best for you. A 2010 study showed that some people prefer heat, some prefer ice, and some prefer alternating. But all were effective in helping to relieve pain.

Regularly eating food like hamburgers and French fries can make your arthritis pain worse.

Regularly eating food like hamburgers and French fries can make your arthritis pain worse.

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Some kinds of fat can make OA pain worse and some can make it better. If you eat a lot of red meat and fried food, you’re loading up on Omega-6 fatty acids. They promote inflammation, which promotes pain. If you eat walnuts and cold-water fish such as salmon or tuna instead, you'll get Omega-3s, which fight inflammation. 

In the typical American diet, the ratio of Omega-6s to Omega-3s is at least 16 to 1. To reduce inflammation it should be 3 to 1.

A knee brace could reduce your pain.

A knee brace could reduce your pain.

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By reducing the pressure on your knee, certain kinds of knee braces can reduce OA pain. An “unloader” brace redirects weight away from the damaged side of your knee, so you can walk without dreading every step.

How much extra stress does each pound of weight put on your hips?

How much extra stress does each pound of weight put on your hips?

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For every pound you gain, your hips bear 6 extra pounds of pressure. And 1 pound is like 3 more pounds on your knees. But turn those sobering thoughts on their head and things start to look up. Lose 1 pound and you're lifting 6 pounds off your hips. Two lost pounds will feel like 12, and so on.

A spa treatment can relieve arthritis pain in your hands.

A spa treatment can relieve arthritis pain in your hands.

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Spa manicurists often dip people's hands in warm paraffin to make the skin smooth and the joints supple. You can get short-term relief from OA pain in your hands with the same treatment -- at a spa or at home -- with a kit available at drug stores or online. Some research suggests that adding a topical pain reliever to the wax soothes pain more.

Physical therapy is no better at reducing arthritis knee pain than exercising on your own.

Physical therapy is no better at reducing arthritis knee pain than exercising on your own.

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Physical therapy can increase the benefits of exercise in people with knee osteoarthritis. This may be because physical therapists can supervise exercise and provide hands-on therapy. One study showed that at the end of a year, people with knee OA who exercised and got physical therapy moved better and were less likely to be taking medication than those who only exercised.

Why would your health care provider prescribe a pain reliever?

Why would your health care provider prescribe a pain reliever?

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Pain relievers can reduce osteoarthritis pain and stiffness, so you can stay active. Having less pain makes it easier for you to exercise, which can also relieve pain. Over time you may be able to cut back on the medication you need to stay active.

If you have osteoarthritis, you'll be taking anti-inflammatory medications for the rest of your life.

If you have osteoarthritis, you'll be taking anti-inflammatory medications for the rest of your life.

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NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) help relieve pain, swelling, and inflammation. But they also can have side effects such as an upset stomach and bleeding ulcers. You can lower your risk by taking the lowest dose for the shortest time necessary to get relief. Always take NSAIDs with food and avoid alcohol. And try other pain treatments such as exercise and heat or cold.

The supplements glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate may:

The supplements glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate may:

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Evidence is mixed on the benefits of the dietary supplements glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate for osteoarthritis pain. One large study found that they did ease pain in some people with OA knee pain, but overall they provided about the same pain relief for knee pain as a placebo. Another two-year study found no difference in the joint health of those who took the supplements and those who took a placebo.

Strength training is the only exercise that can reduce arthritis pain.

Strength training is the only exercise that can reduce arthritis pain.

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  • Correct Answer:

Building muscle strength gives your joints better support. But diversifying your workouts can take pain relief to another level. Aerobic exercises such as brisk walking or biking can stave off weight gain, sleep loss, and the pain that goes along with them. Flexibility exercises can make joints less stiff and painful.

Acupuncture has been proven to relieve arthritis knee pain.

Acupuncture has been proven to relieve arthritis knee pain.

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Research is mixed when it comes to acupuncture as an arthritis pain reliever. Some studies have shown improved knee function after acupuncture, but one found that "real" acupuncture was no more effective than “fake” acupuncture.


If acupuncture works for you and you can afford it, it may be a good complement to your regular medical care.

A good night's sleep can reduce your arthritis pain.

A good night's sleep can reduce your arthritis pain.

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If osteoarthritis pain makes it hard for you to get to sleep or wakes you during the night, you probably already know that pain is often worse when you've lost sleep. Good sleep habits can help you sleep better. Three tips to help: Avoid caffeine late in the day, have a relaxing bedtime routine, and turn in at the same time every night.

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