Living with joint pain daily can be incredibly challenging. In addition to the physical discomfort, it can diminish the quality of life and make activities that were once enjoyed much more difficult. Despite these difficulties, there are strategies you can use to manage your joint pain effectively and get back to feeling your best. Below is an overview of steps to make a living with day-to-day joint pain more manageable.
1. Exercise Regularly
Regular physical activity is essential for joint pain management. Exercise helps strengthen the muscles around your joints, reducing the stress put on them. It also increases blood flow and keeps joints flexible and mobile, which can help reduce pain levels.
Aim for 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise five days a week and two sessions of strength training. Low-impact exercises such as swimming, walking, biking, yoga, and tai chi are usually best for individuals with joint pain.
Applying heat or cold to affected areas can reduce inflammation that leads to joint pain. Heat therapy increases blood flow to the area while reducing stiffness, while cold therapy numbs the area and reduces inflammation.
Use a warm compress or soak in a hot tub for 10 minutes for heat therapy. For cold therapy, wrap a bag of ice or frozen peas in a cloth and hold it against your joint for about 15 minutes each session. Do not apply either therapy directly to your skin; always have something between your skin and the heat/cold source.
What you put into your body has an immense impact on joint health. Consuming a nutritious meal comprised of fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats can help to mitigate inflammation in the joints. Additionally, some nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D have been linked to improved joint health.
Avoiding processed foods and sugary drinks is also important for managing joint pain since they can contribute to inflammation. Lastly, maintaining a healthy weight is key; carrying extra pounds increases joint stress and increases pain levels.
If your joint pain is still difficult to manage despite lifestyle changes, you may need to consider medications or supplements. Over-the-counter options like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can relieve inflammation and swelling. If these still don’t work for you, talk to your doctor about prescription medications that may be more effective.
Additionally, supplements like glucosamine, chondroitin, and omega-3 fatty acids are linked to improved joint health. However, it’s important to talk to your doctor before taking any supplement to make sure it won’t interact with other medications you may be taking.
In some cases, joint pain may be so severe that it cannot be managed with lifestyle changes and medications. In these cases, doctors may recommend corticosteroid injections directly into the affected area. These shots can help reduce inflammation around the joints and relieve pain.
Surgery may also be recommended for more severe cases to repair or replace damaged joints. If this is the case for you, discuss your options with your doctor to determine which type of surgery would be most beneficial for managing your joint pain.
In addition to taking medications and making lifestyle changes, working with a physical therapist can be incredibly beneficial for managing joint pain. A trained physical therapist can create an individualized exercise program that considers your age, weight, and activity level.
A physical therapist can also show you how to properly use heat/cold therapy and provide guidance on assistive devices such as canes or walkers if necessary. You and the physical therapist will devise the best plan for reducing joint pain and improving mobility.
7. Take Regular Breaks
When dealing with joint pain, taking regular breaks from activities that increase inflammation and aggravate the joints is important. This includes anything from heavy lifting to sitting or standing for too long. Incorporating brief breaks into your daily routine can help support and decrease joint stress, providing them with a much-needed break.
Additionally, try to avoid overexerting yourself when engaging in physical activity. If you experience any pain or discomfort during your workout, take a break and give your body the time to recuperate before resuming. Taking these precautions can protect your joints while still staying active and enjoying physical activities.
Managing joint pain daily can be challenging, but with the right lifestyle changes and treatments, it’s possible to lead a healthy and active life. Eating a balanced diet, using medications or supplements when necessary, working with a physical therapist, and taking regular breaks can all help reduce inflammation and provide much-needed relief from pain. With these tips, you can be well on your way to managing your joint pain and leading a happy, active life.
Also, Read How to properly Manage Day-to-Day Joint Pain