Home Treatment for Arthritis

arthritis thumb Home Treatment for Arthritis Arthritis means joints that are painful to move. They may be red, warm, or swollen as well. Many people use the “arthritis” label for pain that is really in muscles, tendons, ligaments, or bones.

There are more than a hundred types of arthritis. The most common are:

  • Osteoarthritis can cause knobby swelling of finger joints. More seriously, it can affect knees, hips, neck, or spine. Some osteoarthritis happens to almost everyone in later life but is usually not too serious.

  • Rheumatoid arthritis can cause you to feel sick and stiff all over, in addition to causing joint problems. It usually starts in midlife.
  • Gout mostly affects men. It causes severe attacks of pan and swelling in one joint at a time, often the big toe, ankle, or knee.
  • Ankylosing spondylitis affects the back. It causes chronic sore back and morning stiffness. A person with ankylosing spondylitis may be unable to touch the toes.

The complications of arthritis usually develop slowly. You can prevent these problems more easily than you can correct them, so you should manage the condition correctly and carefully.

How to Prevent Arthritis

  • Protect your joints from injury.
  • Keep fit.
  • Control your weight.

Home Treatment for Arthritis

Rest

  • Get 8 to 10 hours of sleep per night plus a nap.
  • Set page 302 for a progressive muscle relaxation technique.

Flexibility

  • Do the range-of-motion exercises on pages 266 to 275 at least once per day.

Exercise

  • Walk at least 30 minutes a day. Work up to that gradually or do it in two or three outings. Wear well-cushioned walking shoes. (Avoid high heels and shoes with pointed toes.)
  • Water exercises and swimming are easy on the joints.
  • Stop or change activities if joint pain increases.

Weight Control

  • Get closer to your ideal weight. See page 295.

Heat/Cold

  • During painful flare-ups, apply moist heat two or three times a day for 20 to 30 minutes. Hot showers, hot soaks, hot packs, or heat lamps can help. Massage sore spots after heat treatments. A warm bath in the morning can help reduce joint stiffness.
  • Putting cold packs on painful joints can help (10 to 20 minutes at a time).
  • Try alternating hot and cold treatments.

Water

  • Drink two quarts of water per day and eat a well-balanced diet. See page 282.

Medication

  • Aspirin can help reduce swelling and ease pain. A coated aspirin at night may reduce joint stiffness in the morning. Be aware of aspirin side effects. See page 336. Stomach bleeding from aspirin or other pain relievers with your doctor.
  • Either aspirin or ibuprofen (Advil) can be helpful, but do not use both in the same day.
  • Medications can be particularly helpful with rheumatoid arthritis and gout. Ask your doctor.

Observation

  • Record any changes that occur in your joints.
  • Watch to see if sacs of fluid develop behind the knee or under other inflamed joints.

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Filed Under: Bones, Muscles and Joint Problems

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