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Osteoarthritis - Home Treatment

When you have osteoarthritis, you may find it hard to do your daily tasks. Your joints may ache or feel stiff, and they may hurt when you move. You can do some things at home to feel better.

Lifestyle changes

  • Rest. If your joints hurt a lot or are swollen, take a break. But try not to let too much time pass before you get moving again. A lack of activity can cause your muscles and joints to become weak. Getting enough sleep can help your mood and help you cope with pain. If you are having trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor.
  • Stay at a healthy weight. Being overweight puts extra stress on your joints. But losing weight can help. It can decrease the symptoms of osteoarthritis and allow you to be more active.2
  • Exercise. Some people may be reluctant to exercise when they have arthritis, but it can help reduce pain and improve balance. Try exercises that don't put a lot of stress on your joints, such as swimming, biking, walking, water exercises, and lifting light weights. And consider taking an exercise class designed for people who have arthritis. Many fitness clubs, community centers, and senior centers offer these classes. Be sure to talk to your doctor or physical therapist about what kind of activity is best for you.
    actionset.gif Osteoarthritis: Exercising With Arthritis

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Change how you do things

  • Protect your joints. There are some things that you can do to protect your joints. For example:
    • Try not to do tasks that cause pain or swelling in joints.
    • Use the largest joints or strongest muscles to do things. For example, when you lift a heavy object off the floor, use your hip and knee muscles, not your back. Or when you carry a bag of groceries, use the palm of your hand or your forearm instead of grasping it with your fingers.
  • Change activitiesChange activities. If your joints hurt when you do an activity, try other ways of doing it that don't cause pain. For example, walk instead of jog. Or use a sewing machine to make a quilt instead of making it by hand.
  • Modify your home and work areaModify your home and work area. If you have a hard time moving around or if you get tired easily, try making some changes in your home and work areas. For example, use a reacher to pick up things off the floor. Or for tasks that you would normally do standing up, use a tall stool instead so you can sit down.
  • Maintain good postureMaintain good posture. Poor posture puts stress on your back and neck. The key to good posture is to keep the right amount of curve in your lower back. Too much curve (swayback) or too little (flat back) can cause problems. Having good posture can help reduce pain.
  • Wear comfortable and supportive shoes. If you have arthritis in your back, hips, knees, or feet, you may be able to reduce the stress on your joints by wearing the right shoes or by adding insoles to your shoes. Talk to your doctor or physical therapist about the footwear that would be best for you.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: April 09, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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