According to the Arthritis Foundation, approximately 31 million individuals in the U.S. live with pain due to osteoarthritis, which is known as the wear and tear type of arthritis.
Fortunately, there are many different ways to help ease your pain and manage your osteoarthritis more effectively. Specific lifestyle changes including losing excess weight and performing regular exercises that are joint-friendly, as well as taking your prescribed meds and listening to your body could all help you better manage your condition.
Do Joint-Friendly, Low-Impact Exercises Regularly, but Avoid High-Impact Repetitive Exercise
Low-impact exercises like swimming, biking, and walking are all aerobic exercises that are deemed friendly and fairly easy on the joints. These exercises help in building and maintaining strength around your affected joints as well as keeping them in proper alignment.
On the other hand, high-impact aerobic exercises like running, jumping, and tennis could easily put unnecessary stress on your knees. It’s a vicious cycle since these kinds of exercises cause pain, so you stop exercising because of the pain, and then you lose strength and proper alignment. Worst-case scenario, this might lead to needing knee replacement surgery.
With that said, always listen to what your body’s telling you. It’s also a great idea to work with a physical therapist to come up with an exercise plan that’s specific to your needs and goals.
Always Warm Up and Cool Down Prior to and After Exercising
Generally speaking, warming up lubricates the joints so that they’re less stiff and it will be easier for you to move. In turn, this reduces the risk of you being injured during a workout. Cooling down after exercising helps your body reset.
Incorporate Flexibility and Strength Training
These kinds of exercises will help make your leg muscles stronger. Strength training will help strengthen muscles surrounding your affected joints so they can support your joints better, while flexibility exercises can help maintain and in some cases, improve knee flexibility.
Do Not Hesitate to Use Appropriate Assistive Devices
You don’t have to use a lightweight wheelchair right from the get-go because chances are you don’t need them, although you will eventually. Basic knee braces and canes could play a vital role in improving function and reducing your pain. The reality is that with osteoarthritis, there might come a time that your pain might be disabling and this is when assistive devices could make a significant difference.
Try to Lose Excess Weight to Reduce Unnecessary Stress on Your Affected Knees
Excess pounds put a significant amount of unwarranted stress and pressure on your already compromised knee joints. If you are on the heavier side, shedding excess weight could help ease pain and to some extent, reduce your risk of premature cartilage degeneration.
Last but not the least, have a positive outlook regarding your condition. Keep in mind that your mental outlook could have a tremendous effect on your feelings and in turn, how well you’ll feel from day to day. Try focus and remember all your abilities and strengths instead of focusing on your disabilities.