5 Things That Can Make Arthritis Worse
Living with arthritis is difficult because it can affect your quality of life. Chronic pain and limited mobility may stop you from doing things you used to love doing. But the good news, according to PIH Health Family Medicine physician Michael Galbreath MD, is that in addition to medications and treatments aimed at improving arthritis symptoms, some things you do or don’t do can improve your arthritis or stop it from getting worse.
What makes arthritis worse?
- Not exercising. It seems logical that if your joints hurt it would be better not to exercise because it would make things worse. Right? Wrong! Regular physical activity helps prevent joint stiffness and improves mobility. It also strengthens muscles around the joints. This helps improve symptoms of arthritis such as pain and stiffness. Talk to your doctor before starting any new exercise and focus on joint-friendly exercises such as swimming, biking and yoga.
- Exercising too much. Forget the thinking that if a little is good, a lot is better. In the case of exercise and arthritis, that may not be the case. Don't overdo physical activity and respect your physical limitations. If you do too much or push too hard, you put yourself at higher risk for pain and joint damage.
- Ignoring your weight. Excess weight puts a lot of added stress on joints, whether they're healthy or not. Every 10 pounds of excess body weight increases the force on your knees by 30 to 40 pounds. If you have arthritis, prioritize achieving and maintaining a healthy weight to reduce strain on your joints and ease arthritis symptoms.
- Not using mobility aids. When arthritis limits mobility, it may be necessary for people to use assistive devices such as canes or walkers. While you may not want to use these aids, they are designed to provide extra support, reduce fall risk and increase independence. Isn't it better to be able to get around and enjoy your life than to sit on the couch giving in to your arthritis?
- Not taking medications. If you have arthritis, you may be prescribed medications such as painkillers or biologic drugs to help you live more comfortably. Some people choose not to take these drugs because they're concerned about side effects or becoming addicted. But these medications can help you deal with a chronic and often painful condition and shouldn't be avoided. Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have about medication, what your options are and how to take any prescribed drugs.
Dealing with arthritis can be a challenge because it is a chronic condition that affects how you feel and what you are able to do with your body. Finding ways to reduce symptoms so you can get on with living your life can help you better manage this condition both physically and emotionally.
If you suffer from arthritis, see your primary care physician to discuss treatment options. Call 562.789.5420 to make an appointment with Dr. Galbreath at the PIH Health Lambert medical office building in Whittier.