By Bernard Freeman
Creak or crack getting up in the morning? Trouble moving around? Swelling in the joints? You might have arthritis. There are several different kinds of arthritis, some forms of which may cause problems in other organs, but the most common type is osteoarthritis, which is related to aging or an injury. Read on to learn more.
Causes of Osteoarthritis
Cartilage is a slippery tissue in your joints that absorbs the shock of movement and keeps your bones from rubbing together. When you have osteoarthritis, this cartilage breaks down and the bones rubbing together can damage the joint. Risk factors for osteoarthritis include being overweight, getting older and injuring a joint.
There are many treatments for osteoarthritis, including exercise, medicines and even surgery such as hip or knee replacements. But there are things you can do to mitigate the damage and the pain from this condition.
Even though it hurts at first, it pays to keep moving. The Mayo Clinic recommends low-impact exercises (avoid things like running, jumping and high-impact aerobics). Instead, start with gentle stretches and move up to range-of-motion exercises and strength training. Consult with a local physical therapist or gym to learn a variety of beneficial exercises. Exercise can also help you lose weight, which will take pressure off your battered joints.
You can also use hot and cold to relieve pain and relax muscles and joints. Apply heating pads to the painful joint or take a hot bath to temporarily relieve pain. Don’t use a heating pad for more than 20 minutes at a time. Take cold packs to sore muscles to relieve pain after exercise.
Also quit smoking and keep a positive attitude, which can be difficult when you’re in pain. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor for a recommendation to a therapist if you need it.