Arthritis is chronic inflammation of one or more joints. This condition can be medically managed to an extent, but it is lifestyle changes that offer the best hope. It starts with managing your weight. Obesity puts stress on the joints, so losing weight will improve your mobility.
Finding low-impact ways to exercise is another step in the right direction. Water aerobics is especially helpful for those with arthritis, because water buoyancy reduces the strain on the joints while still allowing you to get some exercise. Yoga and tai chi are also practical options. The stretching involved in these practices improves stability and enhances range of motion.
Your treatment options will depend on the location and stage of the arthritis. Advanced conditions will require more aggressive treatment. Managing pain is a challenge in the early stages. Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Advil or Motrin treat both the inflammation and the pain, but can be hard on the stomach. NSAIDs are available in topical applications, as well, for those who can’t tolerate an oral dose.
The doctor may prescribe a corticosteroid to reduce the inflammation and slow the progression of the disease. Physical therapy is also a preventive measure that increases the strength of the connective tissue around the affected joint and improves mobility.
Surgery becomes an option when more conservative treatments don’t help. The goal is either full joint replacement or fusion. With joint fusion, smaller bones, like in the wrist or hand, fuse together to become one unit and eliminate the offending joint completely.
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