Arthritis affects one out of four men and women in the U.S. That means over 54 million Americans suffer from arthritis and many of those live with chronic pain. Arthritis pain can last three to six months or longer, in some cases, arthritis pain can last a lifetime. It may be constant, or it may come and go but either way, chronic pain can make it hard to perform daily activities like walking, taking a shower, cleaning, getting in and out of your car, or getting dressed. Fortunately, there are ways to effectively manage chronic arthritis pain.
Here are 4 tips to help you feel better:
Take Your Medications
Prescription and over-the-counter drugs recommended by your doctor can help control inflammation and pain. If you have side effects that keep you from taking your medications, or if you have trouble affording their cost, speak to your doctor. There may be other options.
Manage Your Weight
Excess weight can cause more pressure on the weight-bearing joints and increase pain. Plus, adipose tissue (aka: fat) sends out chemical signals that increase inflammation. Being overweight is bad for your overall health, as it increases your chances for heart disease, diabetes and even some cancers. Make sure you have a balanced diet with plenty of vegetables, fresh fruit, whole grains and lean protein, such as beans, poultry, and fish. Stay away from processed foods, red meat, and sugary drinks.
In addition to helping control weight, activities like walking, water aerobics, or yoga can help reduce joint pain and improve flexibility, balance and strength. Cardiovascular exercise, like biking on a stationary bike, also helps keep your heart in shape. If you are new to exercise, talk to your doctor or physical therapist to find out what may be best for you. With exercise, you will also feel more energetic and it can help you sleep better.
Keep a Positive Attitude
Many people with chronic arthritis pain find that a positive attitude can significantly boost their ability to cope with pain. Try not to give in to pain. Find ways to keep your mind off it. Do the things you enjoy – like a hobby or spending time with family and friends – to keep your spirits high. If you need additional support, seek out a therapist or ask your doctor about how hypnosis, meditation and breathing techniques can help you ease your pain.