fade and you may need less pain medication. If it’s hard to walk, start with water exercise. Many local YMCAs offer this kind of “aquatic therapy” class for arthritis.
3. Heat and ice
Both heat and cold can ease arthritis pain. Your doctor or physical therapist can help you decide which is the best choice for you. If your doctor recommends heat, try using a heating pad for about 15 minutes, or taking a warm bath or shower. You can ease the swelling in a joint with an ice pack or a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel, but don’t ice a joint for more than 20 minutes at a time (longer than that can cause frostbite). Keep in mind that cold therapy may be counterproductive if you have circulation problems.
4. Support your joints
If a joint is unstable, a splint, brace, or neoprene sleeve may help ease pain and reduce the risk of injury. Ask your doctor or physical therapist if joint support is right for you.
5. Watch your weight
Extra pounds put more stress on your joints, especially your knees and hips. Losing just a few pounds can help relieve the strain.
6. Get your vitamins
No matter what kind of arthritis you may have, a balanced diet is essential for good health. Some preliminary studies suggest that two nutrients in particular — vitamin C and vitamin D — may show promise for easing osteoarthritis. (Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, builds bone mass, and prevents bone loss; vitamin C helps your body repair tissue.) More studies are needed before this approach can be generally recommended as a treatment for osteoarthritis. Make sure you get enough calcium, which will strengthen your bones and help prevent osteoporosis. Consult your doctor to see if a vitamin supplement is right for you.
7. Watch out for so-called miracle diets
But beware of miracle diets that promise to cure arthritis pain. According to the Arthritis Foundation, many so-called “arthritis diets” are unproven and potentially dangerous. The foundation urges arthritis patients to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains while going easy on bad fats and cholesterol. (Try working up to 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.) In other words, arthritis doesn’t change the basics of healthy eating.
8. Eat to fight joint inflammation
Nuts, seeds and other plant-based foods contain antioxidants and plant chemicals, which may reduce the activity of the COX-2 enzyme and thus help ease joint inflammation. The Arthritis Foundation also suggests increasing your intake of omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish such as salmon.
9. Get plenty of sleep
Sleeplessness and pain can form a vicious cycle. The more pain you feel, the harder it is to get a good night’s sleep. And according to a report in the Rheumatic Disease Clinics of North America, a lack of sleep makes a person more vulnerable to pain. The National Institutes of Health recommends that arthritis patients aim for