Living with osteoarthritis (OA) is a hard ordeal for an individual. If you have the degenerative joint disease, you are not alone. According to U.S. statistics, OA affects over 48 % of people in the U.S. between 25 to 65 years old (over 25 million people) on a daily basis. Here are 3 alarming facts about OA:
- Nearly 1 in 2 people may develop OA in their knee by age 85 years.
- 1 in 4 people may develop painful hip arthritis in their lifetime.
- 2 of 3 people who are obese may develop OA in their knee at some point.
While there is no cure for the disease, there are effective ways to treat it.
Here are 8 treatment methods that will help you deal with OA.
The best way to strengthen your muscles, bones, and joints is through exercise. Here are several exercises that help treat OA:
- Bike riding
- Calisthenics (e.g., push-ups)
- Water aerobics
To ensure safety, make sure to check with a certified health professional before starting an exercise program.
Losing weight will take a ton of pressure off of your joints (especially you’re overweight or clinically obese). In addition, weight loss reduces the amount of medication you have to take. I have witnessed OA patients who lost weight go from taking several pills per day to one.
Use assistive devices/orthotics
When dealing with OA, especially in your knees, an assistive device may be necessary. Canes, splint, braces and tape will provide protection for and relieve stress from your joints. In addition, using an assistive device will make sure you do not incur an injury.
Stop doing activities or things that cause stress
Performing activities that cause a great deal of joint stress will only make OA worse. Instead, stop or change the activities you are doing to relieve joint stress. For instance, playing basketball flares up your knee joints; switch over to wheelchair basketball. Or if you have hand OA, start opening doors with your hip or shoulder.
Hot and cold therapy
Hot and cold therapy is an effective way of relieving joint pain. The following are ways to incorporate hot and cold therapy:
- Cold packs
- Hot compresses
- Hot and cold shower
- Ice massage
- Paraffin wax
Be sure to apply one of these hot and cold techniques 2 or 3 times a day for 20 to 30 minutes. Also, if you use a heating pack, be sure to set it to low or medium; never on high.
When you are unable to effectively manage OA by yourself, it’s best to seek physical therapy. A physical therapist will put you through exercises geared towards improving your mobility to relieve pain. Weekly sessions with a physical therapist should improve your overall fitness level.
Adopt a positive attitude
Adopting a positive attitude is what separates those who effectively treat OA from those who don’t. Understandably, OA is difficult to deal with. However, with the right attitude, it is something you manage while living a happy, healthy life. Here are 3 positive things to keep in mind:
- Focus on your strengths instead of your weaknesses.
- Focus on your abilities instead of your disabilities.
- Develop a support system of family, friends, and health professionals.
Consistently do these 3 things and your attitude will become (or remain) positive.
By combining these 8 techniques, you will effectively treat OA.