Your joints take a lot of punishment. Even when you’re completely healthy, daily activity and exercise put strain on them. But when you have arthritis, your joints become cranky and creaky, susceptible to flare-ups. Here are thirteen simple ways to get the best from your joints while minimising pain and discomfort.
Your joints are wondrous, complex configurations of sinew, bone, cartilage and fluid – tough but fragile, flexible but limited. You need to keep them moving or they’ll seize up. You need to rest them or they’ll swell. So what are your options?
- Start with heat, end with cold: many people find that they can have an enjoyable and beneficial workout by combining warm and cold compresses to arthritic joints;
- Start slowly: Whether you’re going for a walk or pushing weights, start gently. If your exercise involves walking the dog and it’s an energetic hound, let it run around and burn off some energy first;
- Choose appropriate exercise: you might enjoy playing rugby, but you need to face up the fact that it’s bad for your joints. Try range-of-motion exercises such as swimming, t’ai chi, yoga, or even ballroom dancing;
- Stick to your routine: You should do range-of-motion exercises every day, or every other day at the most. You can vary their intensity, depending on how much pain you have, but you should make a point of moving the joints to keep them flexible;
- Wear a brace: lightweight casts and braces are very effective at restricting the movement of joints. Some people feel a little self-conscious about wearing them, but they work;
- Get help: no one will call you a hero for carrying eight bags of shopping to the car. Use a trolley or pay someone to carry them. The same applies to transferring washing from the washing machine to the tumble drier;
- Invest in gadgets: Replace your fancy tap handles with handles. Get fat foam sleeves to fit over your slender pens and pencils;
- Bury your dignity: you might think you look like a crock when you walk with a cane. You don’t. You look dignified and distinguished. And it’ll ease the load on your knees;
- Don’t rule out surgery: Having a knee or hip replacement might seem like a huge event, but these procedures are now refined and successful. People who’ve had them done find that they have great benefits;
- Lose weight: Even a few extra kilograms will add to the strain on your joints. You needn’t be a rail-thin, but keeping your weight down or losing weight can significantly add to the mileage you’ll get out of your joints;
- Know when to get help: Familiarise yourself with the symptoms. Know when to see a doctor, such as when your pain is accompanied by a fever, or if the pain in say, a wrist is accompanied by numbness or tingling in the fingers.
- Listen to your body: If a joint becomes inflamed, ease off until the inflammation subsides. You can’t “work though” the pain of an inflamed joint;
- Harness technology: qualified professionals employ a dazzling variety of pain relief techniques. Be open to suggestion, even if you haven’t tried a technique before, whether it’s ultrasound, acupuncture, TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation), or biofeedback
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