Question:

How does one manage or treat arthritis?

Taking a Proactive Approach to Arthritis Management

Since osteoarthritis is a chronic, degenerative condition, achieving relief from arthritis pain involves patience and persistence. Once the damage is done to a joint, nothing short of surgical replacement is going to change that. Minimizing further joint trauma by avoiding movements and activities that apply stress to the joint is essential.

Swelling is a sign of inflammation within a joint, and also the arbiter of pain and dysfunction for someone with arthritis. Keeping inflammation to a minimum will help preserve the remaining joint surface as well as ease arthritis pain. For example, someone with an arthritic knee should avoid impact-producing activities like jogging or basketball, while an individual whose shoulder has signs of degenerative arthritis may want to avoid repetitive overhead motions such as lap swimming. When performing weight-bearing activities, wearing well-cushioned athletic shoes is highly recommended for anyone who has arthritic changes in their spine or lower body joints.

Maintaining the strength and pliability of the tissues that surround and support the affected joints is another means of achieving arthritic pain relief. A conservative, comprehensive strength program designed by a qualified medical professional such as a licensed physical therapist or certified athletic trainer will balance and strengthen the muscles around the affected area, which in turn helps disperse stress away from the joint. A program of gentle stretching is also effective, since muscles that are too tight compress the joints they cross and act to pull the bony surfaces together more tightly.

While there are many medications to provide pain relief for arthritis, one of the easiest ways to treat it--or prevent it altogether--is to stay active and fit.

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Jerry Mayo