This article will deal with the various activities, precautions and initiatives that an OA patient should take in order to improve their mobility; and thus, not be impeded by pain and stiffness.
The primary decision that an OA patient needs to make, is to realign his/ her lifestyle. Changes that need to be made include exercise and weight loss. Restored mobility through these two mechanisms itself will significantly boost one’s morale and enhance the lifestyle of the patient. Let us look in some more detail on how these can be achieved, and what other mechanisms are adoptable.
Exercise: Exercise can improve the strength of muscles around the joints, making them stable and can improve endurance. Walking, biking, swimming, etc. with light intensity is recommended, including resistance exercises. Normally, pain relief is experienced to a certain extent. If new pain persists for hours, it means there has been overexertion; so, one should resume only once the pain is gone after a day or two.
A range of motion exercises include lying on your back with one leg bent alternately, sitting on a chair with one leg stretched alternately, standing with a support and stretching one’s ankle with weight support, sitting with arms crossed, step-ups, etc.
Weight loss: Overweight and obese body structures are major causes for the increase in stress on joints. Thus, reducing your weight brings the stress down and reduces the pain to a large extent. Consult a dietician for a healthy diet, today!
Heat and cold: Apply heat and cold (alternately) to the joints or muscles, to relieve stiffness of joints and relieve your spasms and pain.
Hot chilli peppers: Application of an active component of peppers called Capsaicin, about three to four times a day, may help as well. *Warning: Be careful of your eyes!
Off-the-shelf pain relief: Temporary relief of pain can be achieved through over-the-counter creams and balms. These are effective for knees and fingers, where the joints are near the skin.
Some doctors recommend reduction of pressure on joints in shoes through braces, when walking or standing. Taping the knee with straps can ease the pain in knee joints. A physiotherapist can help in getting joints bound safely and securely. Use of assistive devices such as a cane may reduce stress, as well. Carry a cane in the opposite hand of the leg, where the pain originates from.
While patients are patronizing several alternative therapies including acupuncture, it is advisable to consult your doctor before venturing in any direction for pain remedies. There is a certain advantage in reducing pain and stiffness, through the lifestyle changes and other measures mentioned above. However, the key driver for improvement lies in the positive outlook of the patient towards life. One’s ability to cope with pain and disability determines how you lead your daily life. At moments of low morale and frustration, it is advisable to talk to your doctor and find a way forward.
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