Arthritis pain: Do’s and don’ts

Will physical activity reduce or increase your arthritis pain? Get tips on exercise and other common concerns when coping with arthritis symptoms and arthritis pain.

Arthritis is a leading cause of pain and disability worldwide. You can find plenty of advice about easing the pain of arthritis and other conditions with exercise, medication and stress reduction. How do you know what will work for you?

Here are some do’s and don’ts to help you figure it out.

Basics

Whatever your condition, it will be easier to stay ahead of your pain if you:

Learn all you can about your condition, including what type of arthritis you have and whether any of your joints are already damaged

Enlist your doctor, friends and family in managing your pain

Tell your doctor if your pain changes everyday routines

Pay attention to your joints, whether sitting, standing or engaging in activity.

Keep your joints moving. Do daily, gentle stretches that move your joints through their full range of motion.
Use good posture. A physical therapist can show you how to sit, stand and move correctly.
Know your limits. Balance activity and rest, and don’t overdo.

In addition, lifestyle changes are important for easing pain.

Manage weight. Being overweight can increase complications of arthritis and contribute to arthritis pain. Making incremental, permanent lifestyle changes resulting in gradual weight loss is often the most effective method of weight management.

Quit smoking. Smoking causes stress on connective tissues, which can increase arthritis pain.

Exercise

When you have arthritis, movement can decrease your pain and stiffness, improve your range of motion, strengthen your muscles, and increase your endurance.

What to do

Choose the right kinds of activities — those that build the muscles around your joints but don’t damage the joints themselves. A physical or occupational therapist can help you develop an exercise program that’s right for you.

Focus on stretching, range-of-motion exercises and gradual progressive strength training. Include low-impact aerobic exercise, such as walking, cycling or water exercises, to improve your mood and help control your weight.

What to avoid

Avoid activities that involve high impact and repetitive motion, such as:

Running

Jumping

Tennis

High-impact aerobics

Repeating the same movement, such as a tennis serve, again and again

Medications

Many types of medications are available for arthritis pain relief. Most are relatively safe, but no medication is completely free of side effects. Talk with your doctor to formulate a medication plan for your specific pain symptoms.

What to avoid

Overtreatment. Talk with your doctor if you find yourself using over-the-counter pain relievers regularly.

Source: Mayo Clinic