Many types of arthritis can be managed effectively without surgery. Try these six at-home methods first.
Arthritis symptoms range from an occasional mild ache to debilitating pain. Osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis, develops when the cushion of cartilage between the bones in a joint wears away, leading to pain (particularly after exercise), stiffness, a cracking noise during movement, and decreased mobility.
A degenerative disease, osteoarthritis usually occurs later in life. However, injuries such as a dislocation or fracture can make a joint more susceptible to arthritis. Fortunately, managing arthritis pain doesn’t always mean surgery. You can reduce the pain and stiffness of arthritis with several proven at-home, non-surgical therapies.
6 Ways to Manage Arthritis Pain Without Surgery
Whether it’s your hip, knee, or shoulder, first-line treatment for arthritis typically entails non-surgical methods to alleviate pain and increase range of motion. Try these at-home remedies for arthritis pain:
Exercise. Low-impact aerobic exercises such as walking, swimming, biking, and using an elliptical strengthen the muscles surrounding your joints. These activities also get your heart rate up without putting too much stress on your body. However, strenuous exercises that involve jumping, twisting, or deep bending should be avoided. A physical therapist can model effective ways to exercise or perform routine daily tasks like walking up and down stairs so you don’t strain your joints.
Lose Weight. Extra weight increases pressure on your joints, particularly your knees. For example, when you walk, your knees bear nearly two times your body weight. The more you weigh, the more stress you put on your knees. Exercise is one way to lose weight and reduce joint pain, but your diet plays a role, too. A plant-based diet of fruits and vegetables is helpful in fighting arthritis-related inflammation. On the other hand, processed foods, red meat, saturated fats, sugar, and salt contribute to inflammation and weight gain.
Hot & Cold Therapy. To ease stiffness, take a warm shower or bath or wrap yourself in a heated blanket. To reduce pain and swelling, apply a cold compress of ice covered by a towel or a gel ice pack to the aching joint. Just make sure the ice doesn’t directly touch your skin.
Anti-inflammatories. NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are available either over-the-counter (ibuprofen and naproxen) or by prescription (celecoxib and meloxicam). Each one is an effective pain reliever and can be taken before you start an activity that causes discomfort. NSAIDs are generally safe, especially if used for a short period of time. But check with your doctor before taking an NSAID to make sure the medication doesn’t interfere with other drugs you may be prescribed.
Assistive Devices. Supportive devices, such as a walker or brace, alleviate pain by lifting the pressure off the affected joints. Assistive devices can also help you more easily accomplish everyday activities. If the pain is centered in your hands, for example, toothbrushes and brushes with larger handles are easier to maneuver.
Reduce Stress. Dealing with a painful chronic condition like arthritis can cause stress and anxiety, which only increases the intensity of your pain. Meditation, yoga, and other relaxation techniques calm the mind and help you cope with stress and pain.
If these at-home remedies or physical therapy fail to relieve your pain, your arthritis may have progressed to a point where surgery or joint replacement is advisable. Fortunately, today’s minimally invasive arthroscopic procedures allow you to regain use of your joint after a brief recovery period.
Let Us Heal You
The physicians and physical therapists at New York Bone & Joint Specialists treat arthritis with a combination of surgical and non-surgical methods. Our goal is to relieve your pain and get you moving freely again. Contact us today for a consultation.