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How to find relief from your osteoarthritis

July 11, 2014

If you have osteoarthritis, you know how painful and debilitating even the most simple tasks can be. According to AARP, it's the third most common chronic disease in America, affecting 27 million Americans. Here are some treatments that you can try alone or with the help of a medical professional to ease the symptoms of the condition. 

Gentle exercise
To increase better next-day relief for those with arthritis, the Mayo Clinic advised engaging in light physical activity before bedtime. Walking is a great, low-impact way of exercising and socializing with your friends. Additionally, there are usually a variety of light exercise programs offered in your neighborhood or in assisted living communities. Be sure to avoid activities like running, jogging or anything that requires a repetitive motion, like tennis or jumping. If you're staying seated for long periods of time, try to adjust your position periodically and stretch your joints frequently to make sure you don't get stiff. 

Mood shifting
It's understandable to feel down when you're in constant pain. The Mayo Clinic reported that negative thoughts can actually make the sensation of pain feel worse. And, conversely, AARP cited that when people are prescribed anti-depressants to treat the symptoms of arthritis, they feel their pain is more manageable. Try journal writing, meditation or cognitive therapy to help cope with the discomfort and channel it into something more productive. 

Lifestyle tweaks
Making small changes to your diet and daily habits can go a long way. For starters, if you smoke, you should limit or reduce your intake. Not only is it unhealthy for your heart and lungs, but its toxins can wear on your connective tissue, which can lead to even more joint problems and pain. Losing weight can also lessen joint discomfort. Obesity can add to the pain of arthritis simply because the extra weight puts more strain on your muscles and joints.

While Tylenol and Advil are effective for occasional periods of pain, some people call for something stronger. For more extreme cases, AARP reported that some doctors will prescribe Cymbalta, which was originally intended for severe depressive disorders. The drug works by inhibiting pain perception in the brain, but it's not for everyone. As always, before taking medication of any kind, you should consult with your physician. 

Medical procedures
AARP highlighted certain procedures seniors can have to reduce the painful symptoms of arthritis, including injecting a clear, gel-like substance or platelet-rich plasma into your joints. There are also other operations like cartilage replacements, though they only work well when the affected area is small and targeted.