May is Arthritis Awareness Month! It may come and go, but osteoarthritis (OA) pain lasts a lifetime. It’s a common cause of joint pain and disability. Simple daily activities like dressing yourself, cleaning, or playing with your kids can become a painful task. There are effective ways to manage your pain so that you can get back to doing what you love to do. Here are some things to keep in mind as you treat your arthritic pain.

  1. Take your medication.

    If your doctor recommends a particular medicine, take it as directed for best results.  Acetaminophen is often used first to manage pain. Make sure you don’t exceed 4000 mg per day. If the pain becomes more severe or there is evidence that a joint is swollen or inflamed, then NSAIDS like ibuprofen or celecoxib can help.  Topical NSAIDs are an alternative to oral medicines, especially in older patients. These have the advantage of not traveling much into the bloodstream so side effects can be lessened. Topical diclofenac is the one that’s FDA approved for OA. Nutritional supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin if taken in prescription doses of 800 mg of chondroitin and 1500 mg of glucosamine daily can help reduce symptoms as well.

  2. Consider steroid injections.

    Intermittent steroid injections into a joint can be effective in lessening pain and improving mobility. For OA of the knee, hyaluronic acid can be injected to ease pain and stiffness. This substance is a thick liquid that exists naturally in the synovial fluid of the joint. Being faithful with your medication regimen will help keep your pain under control. Meanwhile, taking medication is not the absolute solution to arthritic pain. Understanding the cause of your arthritis pain with help from sources like SpineUniverse can help you better treat it.

  3. Stay active and healthy.

    I cannot stress enough how eating a well-balanced diet and maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle can benefit your overall well-being and arthritic pain. Having excess weight puts unnecessary pressure on your joints. Fat also increases inflammation which in turn can lead to pain.  Consider starting an exercise program of aquatic therapy or supervised physical activity. Exercise increases flexibility, strengthens the muscles around joints, and promotes good sleep. Better sleep improves pain and restores body function. In previous blogs, I have mentioned how certain foods can help reduce inflammation like dark cherries and ginger, and avoiding fried foods.

  4. Stay positive and be open minded.

    If your arthritis is severe and even a healthy lifestyle and medications haven’t helped, don’t give up.  A positive mental attitude leads to better health.  If you think you’ll never find a treatment that works for you, you probably won’t. Remain positive and talk to your doctor about alternative treatments. Some techniques that you can try include arthritis gloves, pain relieving creams, hypnosis, meditation, and acupuncture. Tai chi and massage can be pain-relieving, and both yoga and Pilates increase blood flow to joints and calm the mind.

If you are new to the arthritis world, the Arthritis Foundation offers excellent resources and tips. Over 50 million Americans have Arthritis. That’s 1 in 5 adults and 300,000 children. You are not alone and there are plentiful resources to help you along the way. Let others know about your experience with arthritis during this arthritis awareness month. It’s important to let people know how to overcome pain and that they are not alone. Keep moving and stay healthy for arthritis’ sake!