Osteoarthritis (OA) attacks the cartilage in your joints. Once this protective barrier breaks down, your bones rub together and cause significant pain. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than 32.5 million Americans suffer from this progressive disease.
Since osteoarthritis is incurable, those living with the condition focus on managing the symptoms — particularly the pain. Led by Dr. James Batey, our team at Premier Primary Care in Union City, Tennessee, helps those with osteoarthritis get their symptoms under control and minimize the pain. Here are some steps you can take to lessen your osteoarthritis pain.
Prevent osteoarthritis altogether
The best way to avoid osteoarthritis pain is to avoid osteoarthritis. Of course, certain risk factors, such as age, sex, and genetics take some of the control out of your hands, but you can make wise choices every day that reduce your risk for developing osteoarthritis.
Taking care of your joints by avoiding excess stress and pressure, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, and keeping your blood sugar under control can keep your joints healthy and less vulnerable to the wear and tear that leads to osteoarthritis.
Reducing osteoarthritis pain
Once you have osteoarthritis, pain is a constant companion — though some days are worse than others. Ironically, the same precautionary steps that help you avoid developing osteoarthritis in the first place serve as excellent tips for keeping pain to a minimum once you have it.
Protect your joints
Repetitive movements make any joint more susceptible to painful OA flare-ups. So, if your job or hobby involves constant lifting, kneeling, walking, or twisting, take frequent breaks and make sure the rest of your musculoskeletal system is carrying part of the load.
If you’re already at your ideal weight, good for you — you’ve ensured that your knees, hips, back, and ankles aren’t buckling under the pressure of a heavy load. But if you’re overweight or obese and you have osteoarthritis, you’ve backed yourself into a painful situation.
The best thing you can do to ease the pain is to lose some weight. If you’re struggling with the process, we can help. Our medical weight loss program considers everything that makes you unique and tailors the treatment to your specific needs. Not only will weight loss relieve your painful joints, but it’ll also improve the health and function of every system in your body.
We understand that the last thing you want to do when your joints are in pain is exercise, but you’d be surprised at how quickly your pain abates once you start moving. As circulation improves and oxygen-rich blood reaches your joints, inflammation decreases, and so does pain.
Exercise also triggers your body’s production of “feel good” hormones, including dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin, as well as the neurotransmitters called endorphins — each of these can relieve pain and enhance your mood.
Finally, exercise strengthens the musculature surrounding your joints to support movement and increases your flexibility and range of motion. And remember, all types of exercise count. You don’t need to run a marathon to get pain-relieving benefits. Yoga, stretching, and deep breathing can help as much as a bike ride.
Control your blood sugar
When your blood sugar rises, your body amps up its formation of specific molecules that directly impact your cartilage, making it stiffer and more vulnerable to stress. So if you have diabetes and osteoarthritis, it’s critical to keep your blood sugar under control for both chronic conditions.
How do you know if you have osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis isn’t shy — it makes itself known with the unmistakable symptoms of stiff joints, swelling, decreased range of motion, and of course, pain.
Our primary care team can screen you for the disease and run diagnostic tests to rule out other causes of your symptoms if you suspect osteoarthritis. If you, indeed, have OA, we may recommend simple lifestyle changes to alleviate your symptoms and slow the progression of the disease. If you have severe pain and joint damage, we offer prescription medications and other treatments to help you manage your condition.
To learn about reducing your risk for osteoarthritis and relieving the pain that comes with it, schedule an appointment online or call us today.