April 5, 2010

While different people respond better to different therapies, your doctor may suggest alternatives like:

WARM AND COLD THERAPY — Heat therapy, such as a warm shower, hot pack or heating pad can relax stiff and sore muscles. Cold compresses and frozen gel packs also work by numbing nerve endings in affected areas.

MASSAGE THERAPY — Massage can bring warmth and relaxation to painful areas. As muscle tension is relaxed and circulation is increased, pain is decreased.

REGULAR EXERCISE — Regular exercise helps keep joints moving, lessens pain and makes muscles around the joints stronger. Swimming is particularly suited for patients with osteoarthritis. Yoga, Tai chi — a slow, graceful Chinese martial art — and forms of strength training that minimize stress to the joints are also appropriate and beneficial.

STRESS MANAGEMENT — While treating the body, don’t overlook the power of the mind. The mind plays an important role in how you feel pain and respond to illness. Relaxation techniques can provide a sense of control and wellbeing that makes it easier to manage pain. They may also lesson anxiety, depression and sleeping problems.

WEIGHT CONTROL — Weight control is one of the most important ways to manage arthritis pain. For every pound of weight lost, there is a four pound reduction in the load exerted on the knee during daily activities. Losing as few as 11 pounds can cut the risk of developing knee osteoarthritis by 50 percent for some people.

For more information about managing arthritis pain, click here for our informative resource sheet.