As we age, things start to change. Our skin becomes wrinkly, our hair becomes gray, our eyesight and hearing deteriorates. Unfortunately, aging also affects our joints. Suddenly, all those activities that we were always told were so good for our body – jumping, running, climbing stairs, kneeling, walking and so on – become really difficult. The cushioning cartilage around your joints starts to wear, and your bones will rub together, which is a very painful condition. At this point, your joint will start to get stiff and swollen and this is known as arthritis.
Arthritis comes in many shapes and forms, but osteoarthritis is the most common one. This is basically simple ‘wear and tear’ arthritis. The older we get, the more likely it becomes that you will suffer from this. If you are overweight, you are also a prime candidate for osteoarthritis.
There is treatment for this painful condition. Unfortunately, your joint problems cannot be cured through lifestyle changes and medication. However, there are things you can do so that the affected joints, be they your knees, hips, wrists or shoulders, start to move better and less painfully once again.
Protect Your Joints the Easy Way
There are two very important things that you can do in order to protect your joints and neither requires a doctor’s prescription. The first is to lose weight. If you are even just slightly overweight, there will be an increased amount of pressure on your joint, which means you will develop osteoarthritis quicker. To achieve a healthy weight, you need to eat properly. There is no such thing as an ‘osteoarthritis diet’, but eating healthy fats, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean protein is always going to be beneficial.
Next, there is exercise. You must make sure that your joint muscles are strong enough. Whether you go hiking or biking, whether you take part in yoga or swimming, there are plenty of options that are gentle on your body and will be really beneficial for you. Do make sure that you speak to your physician about which type of exercise is best for you. They may also prescribe some physical therapy.
Cold packs or heat pads can give some immediate relief on an achy joint. Different people have different preferences, so whether hot or cold will work best for you is a trial and error case. The exception is if you have an acute injury, in which case you should choose cold for a few days at least. You can apply these packs and pads several days, but make sure you don’t damage your skin. Only leave the pad or pack in place for half an hour each time.
The majority of people use nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to help deal with the pain. The majority of these drugs are available over the counter. Stronger versions do also exist, but they will require a prescription. Make sure you learn more about osteoarthritis treatment so that you can find out what will work best for you.