Should I Exercise?
When dealing with Arthritis stiffness and pain, sometimes it’s hard to get motivated to exercise. But exercise is essential in keeping your body healthy and weight in check. Exercise can also help with stamina, range of motion and muscle strength.
What are the Best Exercises When You Have Arthritis?
Take it slow and easy with any exercise program. Concentrate on stretching, walking, or exercising in the pool. When you’re not feeling your best, or the weather is cold, snowy or rainy try house walking. Put on some music and walk for 20 minutes. Your body will feel energized and it will give an emotional lift.
Exercises to Avoid
- Jumping – most people with Arthritis already avoid this instinctually.
- Running – too hard on the knees and joints in general.
- Aerobics – like Zumba or high impact aerobics.
- Tennis – a wide variety of stresses on joints, hands, knees, ankles.
- Repetitive movement – typing, cleaning, sports.
Apply heat or cold – Don’t try and just deal with the pain or power through it. Take a moment for self-care and apply a heating pad (for 20 mins) or take a hot shower or bath to soothe aching joints. Remember not to make the water too hot to prevent burns or scalding of skin.
- Try a moist heating pad from the drug store or DIY at home by putting a wet washcloth into a zip bag and heating in the microwave. Test with your finger or hand to make sure that the cloth is not too hot. Place over the painful area for 15-20 minutes.
- Or try a paraffin wax dip for hands or feet. Some salons offer these services, so it becomes a spa day and less of a “pain day”.
Cold packs may help to alleviate or lessen some types of pain. Some suggestions from the Arthritis Foundation include:
- Wrap a bag of ice or bag of frozen vegetables (a bag of frozen peas work great) in a towel to protect the skin, and apply to painful areas for no more than 20 minutes at a time. 
- Try a store-bought gel cold pack; it won’t leak, tends to stay cold longer and comes in a sleeve-form to more easily wrap around a joint. 
- Make your own ice pack by mixing a cup of rubbing alcohol with two cups of water and freezing in a zip-top plastic bag. 
- Give your joint an ice bath; submerge it in a container of ice and water. 
Topical Creams – There are a variety of topical creams available on-line or at the drug store. Try Menthonol (Menthonol.com) to help with pain.
- Apply Menthonol – After applying heat or cold the next step to feeling less pain is to apply Menthonol. At first there is a cooling sensation, then after a few minutes many have reported feeling reduced pain to no pain for many hours.
Massage Therapy – Throughout time the human touch and massage have relieved pain that sometimes even medicine can’t. Find a massage therapist that specializes in Arthritis pain and make sure to let them know the sore spots. They will address the areas that are painful with care and a soft touch.
Acupuncture – Many people benefit from pain reduction or pain relief entirely when using acupuncture. It is a medication free way of coping and lessening/eliminating pain for many.
Try Relaxation Therapy – Taking 30 minutes to meditate and doing light yoga stretches can be beneficial along with just taking a minute for you and thinking about the things you enjoy in life. It may be the key to redirecting some of the frustrating feelings that are associated with pain management.
When You Must Take Medication
If you suffer from Arthritis there are probably a few medications that you turn to when pain escalates. OTC - Over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, etc), acetaminophen (Tylenol, etc) helps to relieve pain quickly. Be sure and read all directions of use and warning panels on any OTC products.
Are you taking too much OTC pain relievers?
Then it is time to talk to your doctor to find a more efficient and better way to treat the pain. He/She can offer many options that help with extended pain relief. Taking too many OTC’s may impact your kidneys or liver so keep track of how many OTC’s you are taking and how often. Be sure and update your doctor every time you have an appointment.
Could Depression Make Pain Worse?
It’s no secret pain can bring about symptoms of depression. Dealing with daily pain can be wearing and difficult. Talk to your doctor about your pain as well as your feelings because some anti-depressants can actually help with pain relief.
Feeling Better Emotionally
Being in constant pain can take a toll on your attitude and mood. It can bring about feelings of hopelessness, bitterness and impatience. But there are ways to help improve and lift your feelings, so you can better manage your pain. The key is communicating with your doctor to come up with a plan that works for you.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – Sometimes it helps just to verbalize your pain with a third-party. Speaking with a Therapist can help to sort out feelings, frustrations and depression that can sometimes occur when dealing with constant pain. They can also offer advice on how to improve your mood.
- Anti-Depressants – Many people shy away from taking anti-depressants because they want to “tough it out” or “want to resolve their problems on their own”. But sometimes pain can alter the chemistry levels in your brain that can bring about depression. That’s when anti-depressants can help to restore you back to your old self. Don’t suffer needlessly, talk to your doctor.
Eat to Live…Healthier
Everyone knows that we should eat healthier, but what does that exactly mean? Simple changes/substitutions and incorporating a few fresh veggies or fruits into your diet can make a significant impact on your well-being. If your typical breakfast consists of a cup of coffee or tea and a muffin or a bowl of cerea, it is not a very nutritious or exciting breakfast. But when time is a consideration, or you just are not too keen on cooking, try a bowl of unsweetened oatmeal (you can microwave this) with some berries or whole grain toast with almond butter and banana slices. Or if you are in the mood to cook, an egg or egg white on toast with some avocado slices is a healthy alternative. If you are feeling daring try a swoop of hummus, it adds a lot of flavor and makes breakfast fun again. All of these healthy alternatives will provide you with energy and nutrition to keep you going thru the day.
- Eat less processed foods - shop the perimeter of the store. Go to the vegetable/fruit section, the meat, dairy, bakery section, and scale down on the snacks, goodies and prepared foods on inner aisles.
- Read labels – if you don’t understand the ingredients think twice about eating that item.
- Incorporate beans, legumes into your diet. They are flavorful, filling and provide your body with the protein and fiber that keep you full, healthy and lean.
- Eat less sugar – this goes with the “read the label” section. Most people don’t realize that the non-dairy creamer or bottled beverage most often has A LOT of sugar. Many people lose weight just cutting out the excess sugar that sneaks into our diets.
- Take the time to enjoy your meal. Turn off social media, the TV and dine. Enjoy your food & company - even if it’s just you!
 – Arthritis Foundation - http://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/treatments/natural/other-therapies/heat-cold-pain-relief.php