Lots of people see osteoarthritis as a sentence to permanent pain and disability – but there are things you can do to manage your symptoms. Here’s some ideas:
Exercise, exercise, exercise! Not always what you feel like doing when your knees are aching, but it’s so important. Here are some reasons why:
- stronger muscles mean better support for the knee joint
- stiffness in your knees will be reduced, and flexibility increased
- movement bathes the knee joint and cartilage in fluid, which brings in nutrients and improves knee health
- weight loss will reduce stress on the knees
- exercise releases endorphins, the body’s own natural painkillers
- the more you look after your knees now, the less likely you are to have to give up everyday activities through pain and disability
So find something you like to do. How about a Nordic walking group? The use of walking poles means your arms take some of the effort, and it’s a great way to socialize! Swimming? A fantastic full-body workout, with the added benefits of buoyancy and warmth – particularly if your arthritis flares up in colder weather. Tai Chi? Gentle, sociable, and helps with stress-management and balance.
Think about what you eat. Some people find making changes to their diet to avoid foods that encourage inflammation and increase foods that counter it, is helpful in reducing the pain of arthritis. Some examples of “inflammatory” foods include:
- red meat
- deep-fried food
- refined sugar
- some oils, such as soy, safflower and corn oil
Foods you might include in an “anti-inflammatory” diet are:
- cold-water fish (such as mackerel, sardines, salmon, bass, anchovies)
- dark green vegetables
- turmeric and ginger
- green tea
There’s no “one-size fits all” with a diet aimed at tackling arthritis, though – it’s something to try out and see what works for you – or you could work with a nutritionist to find the best approach.
Apply a soothing pack to your aching joint – but warm or cold? The purpose of applying warmth is to ease stiffness, encourage fluids into the area (blood and synovial fluid), and to provide comfort. This can be great for easing achy, stiff knees – but should be avoided on bruised or soft-swollen knees which don’t need any more fluid! Heat therapy is also not recommended in cases of deep vein thrombosis, diabetes, peripheral vascular disease, open wounds or dermatitis. A cold pack, on the other hand, can be applied for up to 20 minutes at a time, and will help to reduce fluid swelling, decrease inflammation, and it’s great for pain-relief (unless you have a cold-sensitive condition, such as Raynaud’s syndrome, in which case cold therapy is not for you!)
How can osteopathy help? Osteopaths take a broad approach in helping you deal with the symptoms of osteoarthritis. Massage techniques ease tension in fatigued muscles, gentle mobilisation maximises mobility and improves joint health. Osteopathic treatment is aimed at the whole body to ensure there’s no unnecessary mechanical stress on your sore knees. It’s gentle, pain-free, and often you’ll see an immediate reduction in pain. Treatment is specific to you and your particular needs, and advice may be given on diet, exercise and ways that you can manage your symptoms yourself.
So, don’t put up with it – take control today!
“Treatment with Diana makes me more relaxed, easier in the joints, and my pain is greatly reduced. Regular treatment keeps me mobile and certainly makes taking painkillers less frequent. I have been seeing Diana for some years and appreciate her professionalism and her advice with respect to my arthritis.”
– Mrs JA, Surrey