Five Ways To Lessen Arthritis Pain

By Roger Hirchak, D.O., Vice President of Medical Services, Shell Point Retirement Community

In recognition of National Arthritis Month, we last discussed the most common type of arthritis – osteoarthritis (OA). Pain is the primary symptom of OA and is linked to functional impairment and disability. Usually OA pain develops gradually. With mild to moderate OA, pain typically worsens with use of the joint and improves with rest. As the disease progresses, pain is usually more persistent and may not be relieved by rest or basic treatments for osteoarthritis.

To alleviate the pain associated with arthritis and help lessen its progression, consider the following strategies:

  • Try low-impact exercise like walking, using an elliptical machine, or biking. A regular exercise program can help you lose weight and ease strain on your joints.
  • Gentle weight training can strengthen the muscles around the affected joint, providing it with greater support.
  • Use thermotherapy. Both heat and cold can relieve osteoarthritis pain. Heat can increase circulation and relax clenched muscles, while cold can numb painful nerve impulses to the joint and decrease swelling by constricting blood vessels.
  • Supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin are believed to help reform and repair worn or torn cartilage. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil or flaxseed oil are anti-inflammatory agents. Studies have found that SAMe (s-adenosyl-L-methionine) can help reduce osteoarthritis pain.
  • Meditate! It can ease muscle tension and help fight fatigue. Relaxation techniques can reduce the stress, anxiety, depression and sleeping problems that can accompany arthritis.