Over the past few months, millions of American arthritis sufferers have been forced to find alternatives to medication for their pain to avoid potentially deadly side effects. Soon after prescription medications Vioxx and Bextra were taken off the market for their potential cardiovascular and gastrointestinal health risks, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned of similar risks associated with popular over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers. Despite these developments, arthritis sufferers can achieve pain relief by adapting simple lifestyle changes into their daily routines. (Related links: Vioxx recall and Bextra recall)
This is a frustrating time for arthritis patients. After learning about the potential outcome of taking various pain relieving medications, many patients are left searching for a safe yet effective means of relieving their condition. However, I've seen first-hand that non-surgical and natural approaches to pain relief can be very successful. Sufferers should know that medication is not the only option.
Everyone needs to exercise, but not all exercises are appropriate for those afflicted with arthritis. It is important to engage in exercises that will strengthen the muscle, but not irritate the joint. For example, walking is an excellent exercise for arthritis sufferers. However, if a patient's knees become sore with walking; bicycling, arm exercises or walking in a pool can also be beneficial.
Tai Chi and water aerobics are types of balance exercises that can be effective without adding much pressure to joints. But, take it easy. If joints hurt after exercising, they were probably overexerted. If the pain persists over the next few days, a physician should be consulted.
Every ten pounds of weight gained is equal to 30 pounds of pressure on the knees. Thus, losing ten pounds is the same as removing 30 pounds of pressure on a patient's knees.
Using ice packs can reduce acute pain while heat loosens joints and increases blood flow. Try sitting in a whirlpool before exercising and icing an irritated spot after exercising to provide soothing relief.
It is important to have a positive attitude when living with arthritis. In addition, sufferers should educate themselves as much as possible regarding their condition. Learn about new developments, read up-to-date materials and ask questions of health experts or a personal physician.
Anything that makes completing a daily task easier is considered an assistive device. These devices can help to reduce discomfort and disability. In addition, they can also help people with arthritis become more functional by reducing their dependence upon others. For example, the Foot Funnel, a modern day type of shoe horn, is an assistive device, is recommended for those patients who have difficulty putting on their shoes. Other helpful examples include cervical pillows, custom-made foot orthotics and canes.
Dr. Keith Reich is a contributing editor at OurHealthNetwork.