If you have arthritis, you know how painful it can be. Data from the CDC reveals that the chronic pain caused by arthritis affects millions of individuals in the U.S. Approximately one in four adults with arthritis – 15 million people – experience severe joint pain. And nearly half of all adults with arthritis report persistent pain.
Osteoarthritis is the most common cause of disability, according to the Arthritis Foundation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that about one in four adults in the U.S. (23.7%) or approximately 58.5 million people have been diagnosed with arthritis. This condition is more common in women than in men, more common among adults with fair or poor health compared with those in excellent or very good health, and less common among adults who are active. Arthritis prevalence increases with age.
Arthritis can impact individuals and their function. Approximately 43.5 percent of the 58.5 million adults with doctor-diagnosed arthritis have limitations in their usual activities due to the condition.
There is help. The Arthritis Foundation and CDC offer tips that can help arthritis sufferers manage the chronic pain of this condition.
Manage your weight. Excess weight can put more pressure on weight-bearing joints, which will exacerbate pain, and also increase inflammation. Work with your doctor or nutritionist to design and follow a balanced diet that includes plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains and lean poultry. Avoid processed foods, excess sugar and red meat.
Get regular exercise. Staying physically active can help ease arthritic pain. Walking, water aerobics and yoga can help reduce joint pain while improving flexibility, balance and strength. Riding a bicycle can also keep you flexible and heart-healthy. Exercise can give you more energy and improve sleep. Consult with your doctor to develop an exercise program that will work for you.
Take medications as directed. Your doctor will likely prescribe medications and over-the-counter drugs to help control inflammation and ease arthritic pain. If it’s difficult to get to the pharmacy or you have multiple medications, take advantage of an online pharmacy like PersonalRX, which delivers your prescription medications in convenient, customized dose packs to your doorstep every month.
Stay positive and keep busy. Find ways to keep busy, and keep your mind off of the pain. Stay busy doing things you love, whether visiting with family and friends, attending book clubs and special events or spending time on your hobbies. If you’re having trouble keeping your spirits up, you may want to see a therapist.
Investigate natural therapies. The Arthritis Foundation recommends that patients consider natural therapies to manage the pain of arthritis. Acupuncture, a form of Chinese medicine that involves inserting thin, small needs through the skin at specific acupoints on the body, can help improve blood flow and activate the body’s natural painkillers. Massage can reduce joint pain and stiffness, and can even improve range of motion. Tai Chi, a Chinese practice that uses gentle, flowing movements, deep breathing and meditation, can reduce joint pain and promote feelings of well-being. Yoga has been shown to decrease joint pain and stiffness, improve relaxation and reduce stress.
May is Arthritis Awareness Month and there is no time like the present. Start a regimen that begins to reduce your chronic pain today and pave the way for enjoying many happy and healthy tomorrows.