Living with Arthritis

The most recent statistics show that about 23% of all adults in the United States have been diagnosed with arthritis. At least 43% of them have limited their activities because of their pain and stiffness.

There’s no doubt that it’s hard to live with arthritis, and we aren’t here to sugarcoat the challenges you may face in the years ahead. But we are here to support you for the long-run. At Pennsylvania Orthopedic Associates, we create a customized plan to help you live a full life despite having arthritis, a plan that includes the components such as:

Keep moving

We understand how hard it is to keep moving when you’re in pain, yet staying active is the best step you can take to reduce pain and stiffness. Regular movement also strengthens your muscles, tendons, and ligaments, which takes some of the stress off your joints.

So you know you should exercise — the question is, how to do it despite arthritic pain. For starters, talk with us before you begin.  We can help you create an exercise routine that works for you. We may also recommend physical therapy, which is a great way to be sure your regimen is safe for you and doesn’t worsen your arthritis.

The best advice is to take it slow and choose activities you enjoy, like walking or swimming. Then increase your pace gradually, pay attention to your pain, and learn when to rest.

Balance activity with rest

After staying active, the next most important piece of advice we have for our patients with arthritis is to balance your activity with rest — a tip that applies to your normal daily routine as well as exercise.

Taking short breaks and alternating heavy and light activities throughout the day protects your joints from excessive stress that triggers pain and inflammation and can worsen degeneration.

When we help you create a structured exercise routine, we’ll give you some guidelines to follow for when to rest. As a general rule, however, it’s important to listen to your joint pain. If your pain increases after completing an activity, or it lasts longer than two hours afterward, chances are you exercised too long or too strenuously.

Talk with us about your pain

Pain management is an essential part of your long-term plan for living with arthritis. Chronic pain pervades every aspect of your life. It adds to your stress, leads to depression, interferes with your sleep, and stops you from daily activities and exercise.

We work closely with each patient to create a safe and effective pain-relief plan. Although we may prescribe pain-relieving medication, such drugs aren’t the most effective long-term strategy.

Instead, we look for ways to stop your pain at its source. We may inject medications into your affected joint or choose a therapy to quiet overactive nerves. For some patients, an arthritic joint may become so damaged that joint replacement becomes the best option for relieving their pain and restoring normal movement.

We take a multimodal approach to pain management, which means we may recommend lifestyle changes, prescribe assistive devices, and teach you how to protect your joints. You may also get pain relief from alternative methods like yoga. We leave no stone unturned as we create an individualized plan to minimize your pain and help you thrive despite having arthritis.

Lose weight if needed

Every pound of excess body weight you carry places four additional pounds of pressure on your knees. As a result, patients who are overweight have a four to five  times higher risk of developing knee osteoarthritis. And once arthritis appears, the extra weight worsens the pain and accelerates joint damage.

Carrying extra fat takes another toll on your arthritis: It creates and releases biochemicals that promote inflammation and influence the course of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Losing weight comes down to consuming fewer calories than you use during your activities. If your daily activities are limited by arthritis, it’s especially important to be sure you adjust your caloric intake.

However, you also need to stay healthy, get all the nutrients you need, and create a meal plan that’s packed with anti-inflammatory foods. Following an arthritis diet that focuses on fruits, vegetables, fish, poultry, and beans is a good start, but let us know if you need help with weight loss.

We’re proud to offer comprehensive and customized care for our patients with arthritis. Don’t hesitate to call Pennsylvania Orthopedic Associates when you need help for any challenge you face while living with arthritis.

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