Senior Citizen's Guide digital books
Senior Citizen's Guide

11 Steps to Limit the Impact of Arthritis

Studies show small changes can be effective in reducing the impact of arthritis, the nation's #1 cause of disability.  The Arthritis Foundation offers these 11 simple steps to help prevent or limit the progression of arthritis:

  1. Don't ignore joint pain. Studies show joint damage occurs early in some forms of arthritis.   Health Tip: If you have joint pain lasting more than two weeks, see your doctor.
  1. Get a specific diagnosis. With more than 100 forms of arthritis, each requiring different treatment, getting a specific diagnosis from your doctor is important. Health Tip: Work with your doctor on a comprehensive treatment plan.
  1. Shed excess weight. The more you weigh, the more stress you put on joints, especially knees, hips, back and feet. Health Tip: If overweight, lose as little as 11 pounds to reduce joint pain and help prevent knee osteoarthritis by 50 percent.
  1. Get active. Regular exercise strengthens muscles around joints, lessens pain, increases range of movement and reduces fatigue. Health Tip: Spend 30 minutes per day at least three days weekly doing a physical activity you enjoy.
  1. Maintain a healthy diet. For optimal health, eat a balanced, healthy diet. Recent research show vitamin C and other antioxidants can reduce the risk of osteoarthritis. Health Tip: For a snack, reach for an orange or a tall glass of orange juice for disease fighting antioxidants.  
  1. Think big. To protect joints, always use the largest and strongest joint possible to complete a task. Health Tip: Carry large items close to your body, using arms instead of  hands to reduce risk of injuries.
  1. Play smart. Protect yourself from joint injury during physical activities by warming up properly and varying use of muscle groups. Health Tip: Wear joint braces/guards to ease joint stress and reduce risk of injury.  Low-impact activities like biking or swimming offer calorie-burning benefits without adding stress to the joints.
  1. Modify job tasks. Repetitive motion can increase the risk of developing arthritis. Health Tip: Schedule your day so you can alternate job tasks and avoid using the same joints repeatedly. Take frequent breaks to stand and stretch stiff joints and sore muscles.
  1. Relax. Be good to yourself. Stress is a common trigger of joint pain and fatigue. Health Tip: Treat yourself to a massage or a warm bath. Both are proven to relieve muscle tension and ease joint pain. Better emotional health often equals better physical health.
  1. Quit smoking. Smoking can reduce bone mass, leading to osteoporosis and greater risk of fractures. It can also increase risk of complications from several forms of arthritis and prolong recovery from surgeries. Health Tip: Get the help you need to kick the habit.
  1. Take Control.  Even the smallest changes can result in big payoffs in preventing or controlling arthritis. Health Tip:  Contact the Arthritis Foundation at 1-800/365-3811, X239 for the free brochure "Arthritis Answers.
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