Osteoarthritis: 10 Tips for Self-Care at Home

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What differentiates osteoarthritis from regular arthritis is that it typically affects joints exclusively. The disease results from cartilage breakdown, as well as the deterioration of underlying bone. Therefore, the most common symptoms can be boiled down to pain and stiffness.  

At first, the incidence of these symptoms may occur after strenuous physical labor. Over time, it may become constant. This is a very serious and debilitating condition that has to be treated in every possible aspect.

Medical treatment is the cornerstone of managing the disease; however, lifestyle changes and physical exercise increase the quality of life by a significant margin. Self-care is a crucial factor with every health issue and these are some well-meaning tips on how to do your part in treating osteoarthritis at home.

1. Physical activity

Even though physical activity can be painful, studies have shown the prognosis gets better if the afflicted patient spends some time exercising. It doesn't only strengthen your musculature, it helps to keep your joints flexible. Ask around for more detail about resistance training, it will help you build your muscle tissue which, instead of braces and other helpful tools, comes as natural “support” for your joints.

2. Don't overdo it

On the other hand, you shouldn't overwork your body. Have a discussion with your dedicated medical expert what's the upper limit of physical effort you should never cross, by taking the level and acuteness of your condition into consideration. For example, a lot of running, tennis and soccer will put too much stress on your knee joints. Aerobics and yoga are the safest bottom-line exercises and swimming is bound to help you.

3. Weight is your enemy

These aerobic and yoga sessions will help you burn calories, which plays a crucial role in treating your osteoarthritis properly. Naturally, extra weight puts pressure on your joints, especially those delegated to the walking region – feet, knees and hips. No matter how much extra weight you have, losing it will decrease pain in the long run, prevent damage and improve mobility.

4. Balance out your diet

In order to keep your weight in check and have your muscles well-fed, you need to exclude most of dairy products and starch from your diet. Make sure to ingest a lot of fruits and vegetables as well as lean meats which contain crucial nutrients for your cartilages. If you've never had a habit of drinking enough fluid on daily basis, now is the time to begin. The amount of two liters of water per day is a bare minimum your body requires.

5. Include more fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are harbingers of optimum immunity. They play a crucial role in treating inflammation, which is something you should pay close attention to when it comes to osteoarthritis. The foods rich in these acids are the aforementioned lean meats, fish, egg yolk, chia seeds, sea vegetables and flaxseeds. Of course, it's not exclusive to these foods, so make sure to learn as much about omega-3 fatty acids as possible in order to introduce it to your diet in the way that suits your culinary sensibilities.

6.  Add turmeric to your meals

This golden hued spice is a regular component in most Indian dishes. It's one of the main ingredients of curry. It contains a particularly beneficial chemical which is called curcumin and it is generally accepted it helps with osteoarthritis pain due to its anti-inflammatory properties. There's also a bonus benefit of this compound as it helps to stave off colon cancer.

7. Supplementary material

Consult your doctor about which supplements you can use to improve the quality of your life. Specifically, glucosamine promotes joint protection in osteoarthritis patients and it has shown a lot of promise during medical trials. Chondroitin is another supplement that may just slow the breakdown of your cartilage. However, you'll have to be patient for some time – you need to take these supplements for at least a month before you start noticing some improvement.

8. Hot and cold

The method of applying heat and cold to your inflamed joint has been empirically proven time and time again throughout history. Heat increases blood flow and eases stiffness whereas cold reduces swelling. Since this method provides relief from pain, some gym equipment manufacturers have produced a type of hot and cold pads made specifically for this purpose. You can probably find it in the closest well-equipped gym store.

9. Special footwear goes a distance

Special footwear and insoles can provide a lot of support and reduce pain while you walk. It's crucial to pick shoes which are flexible and be thorough as you try out the potential new pair. Concentrate on your knees and if you feel the footwear adds pressure to your knees, don't buy it no matter how appealing it looks.

10. Keep your mood in check

No matter how dire things appear, it's important to keep your head above the water. We all know this to be one of the indisputable facts of life – your outlook has an incredible effect on your physical functionality. Each of us has at least one hobby that brings enjoyment, so take time out of each day to relax and spend some time on an activity that fulfills you. Keeping your friendship bonds tight and alive throughout this period is also of paramount importance.

Once the hard-hitting problem emerges, you have one of two choices – wallow in despair or focus on what you can do instead of what you can't. Osteoarthritis is a chronic condition that will undoubtedly impact on your life, but it doesn't mean you shouldn't adapt and make the best out of the cards you've been dealt.