May is Arthritis Awareness Month in the United States. In light of this, our team here at Apex Pain Specialists, including our board-certified pain management experts Dr. Naveen Reddy and Dr. Maziar Massrour, want to spend a few moments discussing ways in which you can lessen the impact of arthritis.
There are more than 100 types of arthritis, which is really a catchall term for diseases that lead to joint pain and inflammation. In the US, about 25% of adults have doctor-diagnosed arthritis, and a little more than 43% of these people report limitations in their usual activities due to the disease.
To say that arthritis can cast a long shadow is an understatement, so we want to discuss a few steps you can take to preserve your quality of life.
It’s very important that you understand what you’re up against when you have arthritis. Some forms of arthritis are episodic, such as gout, while others are progressive, such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis (OA).
It’s important that you work with your primary care provider to put the right team in place for your arthritis, which might include pain management specialists, such as ourselves, as well as rheumatologists and physical therapists.
Once we address your arthritis symptoms and make you more comfortable, you should take advantage of this respite and get your arthritic joints moving. Your joints are designed for motion, so it’s important that you keep them active, as doing so will encourage blood and healing resources to flow through.
The moment you become sedentary, like the Tin Man in “The Wizard of Oz,” your joints can stiffen up.
Your joints are where bones come together, and they’re supported and connected by a host of soft tissues, including muscles. One of the best ways to combat arthritis is to strengthen these supporting muscles by engaging in targeted strengthening and range-of-motion exercises. This can help take the pressure off of your beleaguered joints.
We mentioned that a physical therapist should be a part of your arthritis team, and this is where they can shine.
If you’re carrying extra pounds, losing weight can help you better manage your arthritis. Your body is designed to carry a specific amount of weight and, if you add to this, your joints will typically take on much of the extra workload.
Losing weight can not only lighten the load in your joints, but it may also help slow down the progressive, and often irreversible, damage.
Many forms of arthritis, including the most common form — OA — are degenerative, which means they progressively get worse. With this in mind, you can make adjustments at the first signs of joint pain and inflammation to help slow the progression.
For example, if you’re a runner and your knees are developing OA, you may want to be kinder to these joints and find another form of exercise, such as swimming, cycling, or yoga.
We encourage you to stay active when you have arthritis, but we want you to choose your activities wisely and with the health of your joints in mind.
If you’d like to learn more about how to better manage arthritis so it doesn't severely limit your life, please call our office in Chandler, Arizona, at 480-820-7246 or book an appointment online with Apex Pain Specialists today.