Osteoarthritis is an inflammatory condition of the joints due to the breakdown of the cartilage that line the joint surfaces, resulting in friction, joint damage, and inflammation. This condition is associated with age, previous joint injury, or excess weight. Here are some tips to manage pain due to osteoarthritis.
1. Take anti-inflammatory medications
Arthritis is usually treated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Traditional NSAIDs such as aspirin or diclofenac may be helpful but can cause gastric irritation. Newer NSAIDs known as specific COX-2 inhibitors exhibit less gastrointestinal side effects but may increase the risk for adverse cardiovascular events. Take only what your doctor prescribes.
2. Lose weight
Since osteoarthritis primarily affects the weight-bearing joints such as knees and hips, losing excess weight makes a ton of sense (pardon the pun). When you lose weight, you ease the burden on your joints and cause your osteoarthritis to improve.
3. Eat the right diet
A balanced diet is important in managing osteoarthritis. Studies have shown that a diet rich in vitamin C, which is involved in the formation of collagen and cartilage, helps alleviate the symptoms of osteoarthritis. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish have been shown to decrease inflammation as well. Overall, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, fish and lean meats, and healthy oils such as olive oil is an important part of managing your osteoarthritis.
This may sound contradictory, but exercise and an active lifestyle actually helps relieve osteoarthritis by helping you lose weight and strengthening the muscles that support the joints. Do not remain inactive for long periods as this can cause the muscles to weaken, which puts an additional burden on the already damaged joint. However, do not over-exert an actively inflamed joint.
5. Use “RICE”
This stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. When your arthritis flares up, be sure to rest the joint and avoid using it until the inflammation subsides. Putting ice and compression, along with elevating the joint, help reduce the inflammation.
Always seek professional advice when in doubt about how to manage your condition. Remember, no matter how much it hurts at times, osteoarthritis should not keep you from enjoying the lifestyle you want.
Written by: J David, Medical Doctor & Writer
About the Author
J David is a medical doctor, writer, and owner of MadicalSchool.com, where he aims to help keep medical students from getting mad (as in “madhouse.”)