Should we accept pain as a normal part of aging?
Chronic tension/pain has become an epidemic across North America and the industrialized world. The US Department of...
Arthritis is a common medical condition. Especially for older adults, pain and inflammation in the joints are common and tend to worsen over time. While constant pain in your joints can be disruptive and distracting, there are many ways that you can learn to cope with arthritis pain or even reduce the sensations of pain.
There are two main types of arthritis: osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). While both of them lead to pain and inflammation in joints, the causes behind each type are vastly different.
Osteoarthritis is often a result of wear-and-tear of the cartilage in our bodies. This can be attributed to aging, as our bodies tend to weaken over time, thus creating friction and inflammation between our bones.
Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, can be classified as an autoimmune disease. This type of arthritis occurs when the immune system mistakenly considers a joint tissue as harmful and begins attacking it.
Since joint pain and inflammation can be difficult to live with, doctors prescribe medicines for both types of arthritis. However, since arthritis can be a long-term condition (especially when associated with aging), it is important to make some lifestyle changes and consider natural healing approaches as well.
Before learning to cope with arthritis pain, it is important to have a strong understanding of your condition. Medical scans can help you identify which joints in your body have been damaged due to aging. You can then plan your coping strategies accordingly. It is also important to seek help whenever you need it. Tell your friends and family about your medical condition and allow them to provide you with assistance in basic chores such as getting up or sitting down if needed.
If you have tried everything else and still have not gotten any luck with managing arthritis pain, it is time to consider the following ten tips for coping. Some of them include lifestyle changes, while others focus on finding life hacks to make things easier for you. Pick and choose the tips that suit you best!
Did you know that the severity of your arthritis pain is related to your weight? The truth is that when you have extra weight on your body, it puts more pressure on your joints and bones – thus leading to more arthritis pain. Doctors suggest that it is very important to lose weight if you have arthritis, especially for older adults.
Managing your weight does not mean that you should stop eating – instead, you need to be more active. Your doctor can help you create a healthy diet for yourself, and you can add simple exercises to your daily routine. If arthritis pain makes it difficult to exercise, you can always go for a simple walk in the park. Consider low-impact and aerobic workouts, such as cycling and swimming, instead of jumping, running, or playing basketball or tennis.
Your diet can play a huge role in healing your arthritis pain. If you are an older adult who wants to reduce arthritis pain, we recommend adding fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain foods to your diet. Including fruits and vegetables will give your body natural antioxidants, reducing the inflammation caused by weak joints.
Eating healthy also means that you will have to cut down on processed food, saturated fat, and artificial sugar. These foods are known to increase inflammation throughout the body.
Making better dietary decisions is an important aspect of dealing with arthritis pain. If you think you need professional help in creating a diet plan, you should reach out to a nutritionist or a dietician.
If you experience stress and anxiety due to your arthritis pain, meditation can be a helpful way to cope with physical and mental stress. Tai chi and yoga are two of the most popular meditation techniques recommended for arthritis pain because they include deep relaxation, breathing exercises, and low-impact workouts.
Apart from typical meditation, you can also try your hand at mindfulness meditation. This is a state where you take a step back from your busy routine and become mindful of everything you are doing.
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While we all know that a massage can help create feelings of relaxation in the body, it is also particularly helpful for arthritis in older adults. Getting a massage may help reduce the pain and inflammation in your joints due to arthritis.
You can either learn to self-massage your joints regularly or get an appointment with a professional massage therapist.
Here is a life hack that can help you cope with arthritis: transfer all your large storage bins into smaller containers. Instead of having to carry heavy containers each time you need to do the laundry, for example, you can have smaller containers that do not put so much weight on your joints. This can also be helpful for things like kitchen items.
Apart from small containers, you can also keep a small cart to carry your products around the house. This works especially well with cleaning items since there are just so many of them. By having a cart, you can keep them neat, organized, and easy to carry.
If you have to cook with arthritis, you likely already know that standing for many hours at once can be a painful experience. To make things easier, we suggest that you meal prep in advance and cut down the cooking work you have to do daily. Use simple tricks such as lining your trays with parchment paper to reduce cleanup time. You can even start using disposable plates to lessen the burden of doing the dishes.
Medicines can only do so much to relieve your arthritis pain. If you no longer want to depend on medication for pain relief, there are some easy hacks that you can try. We suggest filling up a large winter sock with rice, tying a knot at the top, and microwaving it for 2 minutes. The small cushion will work as a comfy heat pad for your joint pain.
Another simple thing you can do to manage your arthritis pain is to consider making small changes to your house that cater to your needs. Instead of having to unplug and carry your heat pads and blankets all over the home, it may be easier to purchase a few more and keep them in every room where you spend the most time.
Try not to keep any extremely heavy objects around the house. Instead, opt for smaller and more portable items to reduce the amount of stress imposed on your joints.
If you cannot motivate yourself to exercise regularly, maybe a wearable fitness tracker will do the trick. You can choose your favorite brand of fitness trackers and select all of your favorite features. This simple tracker will allow you to count your daily steps and even keep your heart rate in check, among other benefits.
Herbal supplements are known to be beneficial for joint pain and inflammation. You can consider taking herbs such as ginkgo, stinging nettle, and devil's claw for arthritis pain. Remember to only buy herbal supplements from legitimate sources and consult your doctor before adding a supplement to your treatment regime.
Let us know in the comments below - how do you manage your arthritis pain?