Millions of people suffer from arthritis pain every day of their lives. Osteoarthritis (degenerative joint disease), or rheumatoid arthritis (an autoimmune disorder) can make getting out of bed in the morning unbearable, and a good night's rest seem gone with the days of old. While living with arthritis can be difficult, it is not impossible. The following seven suggestions may help ease your day to day activities, and make living life with arthritis a little more bearable.
- Pharmacologic Treatment Anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen, help relieve arthritis pain by reducing the swelling and inflammation in joints caused by rheumatoid arthritis. For people with osteoarthritis, inflammation is usually low to non-existent, and they will benefit from acetaminophen for pain relief. Other prescription drugs may also be used, however, always discuss this option with your doctor before you begin taking any medication...serious side effects could occur, especially if used in combination with other medications.
- Exercise Despite the aching and pain that arthritis brings, not exercising is possibly the worst thing a person with arthritis can do. For those with rheumatoid arthritis, a lack of exercise, or not moving the joints that are causing the pain, can actually lead to worsening of arthritis pain and possible contractures of joints further down the road. However, no matter what type of arthritis is affecting you, be sure to have a good balance of rest and exercise, and discuss with your doctor or other trained professional an exercise plan that can work for you.
- Yoga Yoga is a form of exercise that helps keep the body in shape. Not only does it help relieve arthritis pain, but it also reduces stress and helps strengthen joints. The mind is intended to focus inward on the body while performing yoga poses such as the camel pose or the lotus pose. Not only is this helpful in those with osteoarthritis (by strengthening and using the joint, the stiffness gradually will go away as the day progresses), but also those with rheumatoid arthritis (as a form of distraction or imagery, it helps you to focus on something else besides the pain). Your doctor or trained professional should be able to recommend whether or not yoga would be something for you and may also be able to recommend a yoga center.
- Aromatherapy Aromatherapy has been used for centuries. It's known to help promote relaxation, reduce stress levels, and increase a person's overall well-being. Some common aromas that have been tested with arthritic persons are lavender, chamomile, rosemary, camphor and eucalyptus. Lavender has been noted to be particularly helpful when used as a massage oil or lotion on those with rheumatoid arthritis. These scents can be combined with oils and massaged into painful joints, or they can come in the form of a candle, incense stick or scented plug-in wall unit.
- Water Not only drinking it, but soaking in it. Drinking at least 6-8 eight ounce glasses of water a day helps keep the body well hydrated and increases the body's overall feeling of health. Warm massaging showers, whirlpools, or foot soaks with marbles help increase the body's circulation and can produce some pain relief. Throw in a few scoops of scented salts to get the double "water/aromatherapy" effect.
- Laughter The old saying "laughter is the best medicine" may be proving to be true. When we laugh, our body releases endorphins. The endorphins are our body's own way of killing pain...the more we laugh, the more endorphins that are released. Read the newspaper comics. Visit a comedy club. Watch a funny movie. Whatever makes you laugh, indulge in it.
- Posture Your mom didn't tell you to "sit up straight" all those years for nothing! Having good posture helps relieve stress on joints, an excellent deterrent to the pain of both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. So lift up that head, throw back those shoulders, straighten that spine, and place both feet flat on the floor. While the effects of good posture may not be noticed immediately, in time your joints will be thanking you!
Once again, as always, discuss your options of treating your arthritis pain with your doctor. Only you and your doctor know what routine will work best for you.