Experiencing pain and stiffness, especially at night, may make it seem like your arthritis is forcing you to change your lifestyle. But if you can exercise and keep fit, you may be able to keep some forms of arthritis under control, particularly osteoarthritis—a wear and tear disorder.
You can minimize the physical stress of exercising by choosing low-impact activities, such as swimming and walking, and by warming up before your workout and cooling down after you're done.
Here are some other things you can do to reduce your pain:
- Apply a heat wrap or cold wrap to ease achy joints. Try both techniques to see which works best for you.
- Take an over-the-counter medication, such as ibuprofen, to relieve pain from inflammation associated with arthritis.
- Don't smoke. The toxic substances in tobacco cause stress on the connective tissues, which can lead to more joint problems.
- Keep a positive attitude. Negative thoughts are self-perpetuating and can actually increase the risk of disability, pain, and depression. Practicing relaxation techniques can help you stay positive. Among the techniques that you may find helpful are guided imagery (focussing your thoughts and senses on pleasant images and feelings), biofeedback, listening to audio relaxation tapes, and talking with a professional counsellor.