Anyone with osteoarthritis or who has a loved one with the disease knows that it can get progressively more painful and disabling over time. Eventually, the smooth cartilage covering joints in the shoulders, knees, hips, wrist or fingers may begin to wear away and no longer serve as a cushion for the bones.
While surgery to replace the joint may ultimately be the best solution, there are many steps you can take before then to reduce the pain and stiffness, improve range of motion and improve your quality of life.
Here are tips from various medical experts, including the American Occupational Therapy Association, the Arthritis Foundation and Harvard Medical School, to help make living with arthritis more manageable day to day.
1) Apply a heat pack or cold pack to the painful joint before and after performing activities.
2) Use a pillow to elevate the painful joint and provide support while you sleep.
3) Don’t lift heavy items. Use a cart with wheels to move laundry, garbage cans, grocery bags and other items. If you are trying to lift something heavy, use proper technique, flex at your knees to use your core body area.
4) Use adaptive aids such as long-handled shoehorns and sock grippers to avoid unnecessary bending, stooping or reaching that might put too much strain on joints.
5) Modify your home with these simple ideas:
• Install a raised toilet seat and grab bars in the
bathroom. Similarly, sit in a chair with arms to
help you stand up.
• Remove throw rugs to prevent tripping. Wear secure
fitting shoes, avoid flip flops.
• Replace doorknobs and faucets in your house with
lever-style handles that are easier to turn.
6) Follow good body mechanics, such as:
• Take frequent breaks and pace yourself when doing
activities that strain the joint.
• Avoid staying in one position for too long, which could put stress on joints. For example, get up and stretch every so often while reading, watching television or working at the computer.
• In the kitchen, use a rolling office chair to help you do chores like cooking or washing the dishes.
• Use the handrail when climbing stairs. Lead with your unaffected leg while going up and your affected leg while going down stairs.
7) Maintain a healthy weight and control blood sugar. Extra weight puts added stress on weight-bearing joints, such as the knees and hips. In addition, new studies show that high blood sugar levels, which increase the risk for diabetes, may trigger inflammation, which can damage cartilage.
8) Stay physical. It’s the best non-drug treatment for improving pain and function.” Exercise stretches the joints and keeps them more flexible, while also strengthening the muscles surrounding the joint. You do not have to join a gym; just take a walk. Some form of exercise should be a normal daily activity, like bathing and brushing your teeth.
9) Play it safe if you play sports. Straight line exercising avoids stressing joints from a symmetric load to a joint. If you do play a sport requiring twisting activity, take extra time to warm up and make sure your shoes are the proper type of shoes for that sport.
If you are experiencing pain from arthritis, it is important speak with a doctor to discuss your options for pain relief. Dr. Edward R. Dupay, Jr. and his staff are ready to answer your questions.
Edward R. Dupay, Jr, DO Board Certified
Dr. Dupay graduated from Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. He received his Doctor of Osteopathy at the Uni-
versity of Health Sciences, College of Osteopathic Medicine in Kansas City, Missouri.
Dr. Dupay completed his Internship and Orthopedic Surgery Residency at Flint Osteopathic Hospital in Flint, Michigan. Dr. Dupay has been in the Fort Myers / Cape Coral area since 1987. Dr. Dupay enjoys seeing the “Weekend Warrior” athlete, as well as all patients suffering from crippling osteoarthritis.
To schedule your appointment, please call Orthopedic Associates of Southwest Florida
at 239-768-2272, visit our website at www.ifixbones.com, or ask your physician for a referral.