Do you have osteoarthritis? You may be abstaining from doing certain activities. Yet, staying active can help you to feel better!
Can osteoarthritis slow you down?
Osteoarthritis is a chronic condition affecting the joints, especially in the hands, hips, knees and back. Symptoms include discomfort, pain, decreased mobility and reduced range of motion. Not surprisingly, those affected by it tend to be less active. Additionally, many people believe that exercise worsens osteoarthritis. In fact, the opposite is true!
If you have arthritic problems, increasing your daily activity level and exercising can have numerous benefits you may not have considered. Limiting movement for fear of discomfort or pain can contribute to joint deterioration.
People who are physically active are generally less prone to osteoarthritis and its inconveniences.
What are the benefits of physical activity when you have osteoarthritis?
If you decide to include more exercise in your daily routine, you will reap the benefits in many ways. Here are some examples of potential benefits:
- reduce the pressure on your joints
- reduce pain
- increase muscle mass, endurance and range of motion
- improve bone and joint health
Additionally, physical activity can help you reach or maintain a healthy weight. Therefore, it can prevent or limit the pressure of excess weight on joints. This is especially important if osteoarthritis affects the back, hips or knees.
A healthy and balanced diet is also key in maintaining a healthy weight. We encourage you to follow the recommendations of Canada’s Food Guide, the primary reference in terms of nutrition.
How can you stay active despite the limitations related to osteoarthritis?
When symptoms are intense or during a flare-up, it can be beneficial to decrease physical activity. Outside these periods, it is important to stay active to prevent the joints from stiffening.
There are several beneficial activities to do for people living with osteoarthritis who wish to stay fit, for example:
- do aquatics, or
Here are a few tips on how to increase your daily physical activity level:
- Park your car at a distance in the parking lot.
- View your household tasks as an opportunity to be active.
- Make several trips to and from the car when unloading your purchases.
- Go for a healthy stroll on foot or on your bicycle after dinner.
Speak to a knowledgeable healthcare professional, such as a physiotherapist for an exercise program that is adapted to your needs.
How can I control pain when it flares up?
Since osteoarthritis cannot be cured, the best strategy is to minimize its negative impact by easing pain. To do this, pain relievers are generally used. A medication often used for arthritis pain relief is acetaminophen, which can be purchased without a prescription at the pharmacy.
The use of other drugs, whether or not they are prescribed, can also be considered. Some are taken orally, others are applied to the skin or injected. It is important to always ask the advice of your pharmacist before purchasing or taking over-the-counter medication, including analgesics. Some of them might not be suitable for you or may involve risks.
Various other measures can help ease osteoarthritis-related pain: rest, applying heat or cold, relaxation techniques, etc. Ask your pharmacist what options are open to you.
Has this text convinced you of the benefits of staying active despite osteoarthritis? Don’t hesitate to take action. Like the expression goes―it’s good for what ails you!
Don’t hesitate to speak to your pharmacist for additional information on how to ease arthritic pain and how to adopt and maintain a healthy lifestyle.