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With osteoarthritis, it’s tempting to cut back on your physical activities to help minimize the pain. But inactivity can lead to more health problems. So, it’s important to find ways to keep the pain under control.
Robert J. Meador, M.D., a rheumatologist on the medical staff at Baylor Medical Center at Garland, says that people with osteoarthritis should consider these options:
1. Lose weight. Every extra pound taxes your back, hips and knees. “A heart-healthy diet rich in vegetables and low in cholesterol can help you lose weight over time,” Dr. Meador says.
2. Quit smoking. Smoking can damage small blood vessels and impede circulation.
3. Stretch. Most people either don’t stretch when exercising, or stretch incorrectly. Learning the right way to stretch can lessen the pain in your back, knees and hips.
4. Exercise. Exercise might help alleviate pain a bit and can also help maintain mobility and flexibility. Yoga, low-impact aerobic exercises and water workouts can be good choices. Exercises that strengthen the quadriceps, such as leg lifts, can help provide support for your knees when you climb stairs or get up from a chair.
5. Heat it up. A heating pad set on low or a hot water bottle might help.
6. See a specialist. A physical therapist can offer techniques and suggestions for pain relief.
7. Try OTC options. Many people use over-the-counter pain relievers such as Tylenol, Aleve or Ben Gay.
8. Control other health conditions. Keeping chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and stress in check can help keep them from exacerbating arthritis.
9. Start early. If you are developing arthritis pain, take steps to keep it in check. It’s a lot easier to lose weight in your 40s than it is when you’re in your 60s and the pain has progressed.
10. Talk to your doctor. He or she can help come up with pain-relief techniques that will keep you active.
For a referral to a doctor on the Baylor Garland medical staff, call 1.800.4BAYLOR or click here.
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