Osteoarthritis is a chronic disease and the most common type of arthritis. But it doesn’t have to keep you from leading an active life. You can help control symptoms by exercising and losing weight if you are overweight. Using special tools also helps make life easier. Be sure to see your healthcare provider for scheduled checkups and lab work. If you have questions or concerns between office visits, call your healthcare provider's office.
Gentle exercise can help lessen your pain. Keep the following in mind:
Choose exercises that improve joint motion and make your muscles stronger. Your healthcare provider or a physical therapist may suggest a few.
Stretching and flexibility activities such as yoga and tai chi may improve pain and joint motion.
Try low-impact sports, such as walking, biking, or doing exercises in a warm pool.
Most people should exercise for at least 30 minutes a day on most days of the week. This can be broken up into shorter periods throughout the day.
Don’t push yourself too hard at first. Slowly build up over time.
Make sure you warm up for 5 to 10 minutes before you exercise.
If pain and stiffness increase, don't exercise as hard or as long.
If you weigh more than you should, your weight-bearing joints are under extra pressure. This makes your symptoms worse. To reduce pain and stiffness, try shedding a few of those extra pounds. The tips below may help:
Start a weight-loss program with the help of your healthcare provider.
Ask your friends and family for support.
Join a weight-loss group.
Even simple tasks can be hard to do when your joints hurt. Special tools called assistive devices can make things easier by reducing strain and protecting your joints. Ask your healthcare provider where to find these and other helpful tools:
Long-handled reachers or grabbers
Jar openers and button threaders
Large grips for pencils, garden tools, and other hand-held objects
People with arthritis and other joint problems often use mobility aids to help with walking. For example, they may use canes or walkers. They may also use splints or braces to support joints. Talk with your healthcare provider or physical therapist about these aids:
A cane to reduce knee or hip pain and help prevent falls
Splints for your wrists or other joints
A brace to support a weak knee joint
Orthotics for toe and foot involvement
Discuss medical treatments with your healthcare provider to help reduce your pain and improve joint mobility.
Topical medicines such as lidocaine, capsaicin, and diclofenac gel
Oral medicines such as acetaminophen, NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines) such as ibuprofen and naproxen, or opioid narcotics
Injections in affected joints such as corticosteroids in various joints, or hyaluronic acid in the knee joints
Surgical repair or surgical joint replacement with artificial joints
Complementary therapies such as heat and cold treatment, massage, acupuncture, supplements, cognitive training, meditation, and others. Discuss these options with your healthcare provider.