The CDC estimates 54.4 million US adults have been told by a doctor they have at least some form of arthritis.
More than 100 kinds of arthritis exist. And osteoarthritis is the most common.
It occurs when the cartilage that cushions your joints degrades, leaving bone to rub on bone. And that causes the pain, stiffness, tenderness, swelling, and loss of flexibility you experience.
If you have osteoarthritis, you know it’s not fun and can be quite debilitating.
So let’s get to what you really want to know: how do you treat this painful condition?
It does not necessarily get worse over time. And you have a lot of power to reduce your symptoms.
Here’s what to do:
1. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Keeping a healthy weight is beneficial for your body in almost a countless number of ways. It’s one of the fundamentals you should always focus on at any age to keep yourself healthy.
If you’re obese and lose many pounds (in a slow, planned, and healthy way), you’ll likely experience noticeable relief from osteoarthritis.
But you can also experience relief even if you only have a few pounds to lose.
If there’s one thing you can do, make sure you do everything in your power to keep in a healthy weight range.
To judge your weight, use the body mass index (BMI). A BMI of 18.5 – 24.9 is the goal.
2. Physical Activity
Yes, your joints ache because of osteoarthritis. But, even though they do, physical activity is still a huge benefit for you if you have the condition.
Aerobic exercise like walking, running, biking, and swimming help. You may also lift weights to increase your muscular strength. And finally, stretching and increasing flexibility with yoga, pilates, or tai chi can help too.
However, make sure you do the right physical activity for the specific pain you’re experiencing.
So, it makes sense to talk to your doctor, ask what to do, and how much of it you should do.
Your doctor may also recommend physical therapy.
3. Over-the-Counter Medicine
NSAIDs like ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin can help. However, you should talk to your doctor before committing to their use regularly.
You can have too much of a good thing and cause yourself harm.
Prescription medication like oxycodone and hydrocodone may be suggested. And injections may be part of your treatment too, but only if your pain is severe.
4. Other Treatments
Ice packs, heating pads, and regular massage can all be helpful too. MLS shockwave therapy, which uses laser light and causes next to no discomfort, may also be suggested.
You’re unique. And that means you need a unique treatment regimen for your osteoarthritis.
You can find relief. Don’t give up. Make sure you consider all the options and work with a doctor you trust to help you get better and get active again.