If you have been diagnosed with arthritis, you know how much this disease can control your life. Depending on the type of arthritis and its severity, it can be difficult to manage without knowledge of the disease and ways to cope with pain. Our orthopedic doctors in Nashville and Franklin, TN specialize in arthritis management and encourage patients to first seek the least invasive treatment options before going into surgery.
What is Arthritis?
Each form of arthritis has different causes and symptoms. Most people with arthritis experience inflammation, pain, reduced range of motion, and or stiffness in the joints. Arthritis can develop and gradually worsen as you age, but there are also forms of arthritis that affect younger people, specifically those with juvenile arthritis.
How to Manage Arthritis Symptoms
Managing your weight is especially important for those with arthritis. The more weight you have pressing on the joints the more pain and inflammation you will feel. In fact, for each pound of bodyweight you gain, your knees gain three pounds of added stress; for hips, each pound translates into six times the pressure on the joints! Therefore, we encourage our patients to maintain a healthy weight for the longevity of their joints.
We understand this is easier said than done but talking with your doctor about managing weight is a great first step and could aid in avoiding invasive treatments like surgery!
You may think you need to avoid exercise due to pain, but movement is critical to maintaining healthy joints. By “healthy” exercise we mean knowing what kind of exercise works for you and knowing when it is time to rest. It’s easy to overdo exercise and worsen your symptoms. Once you feel added stiffness or pain it may be good to stretch and rest instead.
Arthritis Friendly Workouts:
Yoga: Yoga is an amazing balance of stretching, strength training and mobility work. This low-impact activity will get your joints moving without putting added stress on the body.
Swimming / Aerobics: Swimming is one of the best types of exercise for those with joint pain! It is low impact while still being a great cardiovascular option. Joining a local aerobics class can be a fun way to stay motivated by working out without the intensity of other workout classes
Biking: Our doctors often encourage patients to get back on their bicycles if they struggle with a range of motion or stiffness. Those with help or knee pain can benefit from the low-impact exercise while working on their balance and range of motion.
Recent research shows how food affects nearly every aspect of our health and fitness. Certain foods that are high in refined sugars and unhealthy carbs have proven to cause inflammation. The more inflamed your body is, the more pain and stiffness you will feel in your arthritic joints
Foods to Avoid or Eat in Moderation
- Sugary desserts like candy, cakes, etc.
- Refined carbs such as white bread and pastries
- Soda or other sweetened beverages (juices, high sugar smoothies)
- Red or processed meat
Foods to Include in Your Diet
- Fatty fish like salmon or
- Olive oil
- leafy greens like broccoli
Dry-Needling is a holistic approach to pain management. The explanation is in the name, a dry needle with no medication is inserted into a trigger point to help loosen a knot or tightness. Though the reasoning behind why it works is still not fully understood, it seems to work by signaling or telling your body where to begin healing the affected area. Many patients report having pain relief from dry needling, and it is a great option for those looking to avoid surgery.
Anti-Inflammatory drugs are the recommended medication for those with arthritis. Talk with your doctor about what kinds of medications work for you! If NSAIDs are no longer working, physical therapy or injections are other less invasive procedures that provide relief for those with arthritis.
Talk with you Doctor
As always, talking with your doctor about treatment options for your specific form of arthritis will always be the best first course of action. An orthopedic doctor will have experience dealing with arthritis and will know what treatment will work best for the stage of arthritis you are in. Find a doctor that is willing to try natural and less invasive treatments first before jumping to surgery. Though surgery is a great option for those in the later stages of arthritis, if it can be avoided, it is best to manage your arthritis naturally.
See our doctors who treat arthritis in the Nashville and Franklin area here.