If you’ve ever experienced joint pain, you know that it can affect even the simplest daily tasks, such as writing, walking, cooking and gardening. By taking proper care of your joints, you can help to prevent or reduce pain that can affect the quality of your life.
Pain management varies from person to person. What works for someone else may not work for you, which can be frustrating. The good news is that there are a lot of options for reducing your joint pain. Here are a few ways you may be able to treat your joint pain at home.
Exercise. Staying active is one of the best ways to keep your joints strong, flexible and healthy. Of course, when you’re in pain, exercising can be difficult. Try low-impact exercises, such as swimming, water aerobics, cycling or the elliptical. Not only will exercise help keep your joints strong, losing weight can significantly reduce the pounds of pressure put on joints in your hips and legs.
Fix your posture. Poor posture will only increase your pain. So sit up tall and try not to compensate for a sore knee—doing so will create pain in other joints like your knee, hips or back.
Stay warm. Many people complain of increased joint pain during the winter months. Keeping your body tissues warm increases blood flow to the joints, decreasing inflammation, relaxing tight muscles and helping to eliminate lactic acid and other waste that cause stiffness in the joints. Try taking a hot bath or using an electric heating pad on your sore joints.
Relax. Anxiety, stress, depression and poor sleep can increase pain. Take some time for yourself to relax. Get plenty of sleep and find healthy ways to manage stress and anxiety. If you struggle with anxiety or depression, talk to your doctor and ask for help finding ways to manage your emotions in a positive way.
Keeping your joints healthy
Even if you aren’t experiencing joint pain now, it is likely you will at some point in time if you aren’t taking steps to keep your joints healthy. Use these five tips to preserve your joint health.
1. Work smart. Not only is keeping good posture a great way to reduce existing pain, it’s also one of the top ways to prevent joint pain in the first place. Most people who have desk jobs struggle to maintain good posture. Keep your computer positioned at eye level, with your body spaced 20 to 26 inches away from the monitor. Keep your elbows at a right angle, your feet flat on the floor and your wrists relaxed when typing.
2. Alternate between sitting and standing. Sitting all day isn’t good for your joints, but neither is standing on your feet all day. If you sit at a desk most of the day, give yourself a break to stand up about every 30 minutes. If you’re on your feet most of the day, take periodic breaks to sit down and take a load off your joints.
3. Lose weight. When walking on level ground, the force on your knees is equal to one-and-a-half times your body weight. If you weigh 150 pounds, each step puts 225 pounds of pressure on your knees. That’s on flat ground! When walking on an incline, the force is even greater, and running adds additional force on your joints as well. Not only can that force be painful, but it can also increase your risk of developing osteoarthritis. Thankfully, losing even a few pounds can make a big difference for your joints. Researchers suggest that people who are overweight can reduce their risk of osteoarthritis by 50 percent with every 11 pounds lost.
4. Increase your calcium intake. Calcium is the mineral that keeps your bones strong, and it can help reduce your risk of developing osteoarthritis. Adjust your diet to be sure you’re getting enough calcium. Some foods that contain calcium include yogurt, broccoli, kale, figs, salmon and milk.
5. Take your vitamins. Most people don’t get enough vitamins from their daily diet. Supplementing with a multivitamin is a simple way to be sure you’re getting the vitamins and minerals you need. In addition to calcium, be sure you’re getting enough vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin E and folic acid.
If you have been suffering from joint pain for more than a few days, it never hurts to check in with your physician. Knowing the source of your joint pain can help you find the best ways to reduce your pain. Your doctor can help identify the cause of your pain and make recommendations for pain management based on your individual needs.