Lifestyle Changes to Manage Osteoarthritis
Lifestyle changes can't cure osteoarthritis (OA), but can help manage the condition, and decrease discomfort and disability. It's important to find a balance to maintain as much of a normal life as possible. Lifestyle recommendations include:
Reach or Maintain a Healthy Weight
Maintaining a healthy weight can help:
- Improve symptoms caused by OA
- Slow the progression of OA
- Reduce OA injury in other joints
Excess and/or increasing weight puts extra stress on your joints. If you are overweight, talk to your doctor or a dietitian about dietary options.
Joint pain may make people less interested in physical activity, but immobility can make the joints worse. Reasonable physical activity on the other hand, can help improve mobility, flexibility, and decrease pain. Exercise strengthens your muscles, which improves joint stability. Stronger muscles also help to absorb energy and protect the joint surface.
Exercise programs can be tailored to your current abilities and be protective of the joints that are affected by OA. An exercise physiologist or physical therapist can help design a safe, effective program.
Stress can make pain worse. Take steps to avoid or manage stress when possible. There are several ways to reduce stress
, such as meditation, yoga, guided breathing and other relaxation techniques
Returning to Everyday Life
It is normal to feel concerned or frustrated with changes and challenges created by osteoarthritis. Support groups or one-on-one counseling can help you navigate the challenges of OA. Support groups allow for interaction with others who have similar experiences. They offer an environment of encouragement and support that will help with adjustments and treatment adherence.
Talk to your healthcare team about symptoms or treatments that you are having difficulty with. Other treatments options may be available to help better manage your OA.
Monitor Yourself for Depression
It is very common to experience mood changes, especially within the first few months of a new diagnosis or during periods of more intense symptoms. Depression can undermine your recovery and put you at risk for more serious health complications. Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and loss of interest in your favorite activities that stay with you for at least 2 weeks should prompt a call to your doctor. There are several treatment options available, such as medications and/or counseling.
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