An arthritis diagnosis doesn't have to limit your choices in activities, but knowing how the disease progresses and affects your body can be important in choosing what you do.
While there are several types of arthritis, the most common two are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Both are very different in how they affect your body. In osteoarthritis, the protective cartilage on the ends of your bones wears down, The Mayo Clinic said
, which is why it's most often found in older people. Joints commonly affected are in the hands, knees, hips, and spine.
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Rheumatoid arthritis, though, is an autoimmune condition that can affect any joint in your body. It affects joints on both sides at the same time, which is not the case of other forms of arthritis, WebMD said
. For instance, pain and inflammation will occur in both knees, both hands, or both hips. In other forms of arthritis, such as psoriatic arthritis, also an autoimmune disease, just one knee may hurt at a time.
When you receive a diagnosis of arthritis, here are seven activities or actions you may want to take:
1. Learn about the disease: The Arthritis Foundation
is an excellent source on information about all types of arthritis, including cutting-edge research, possible treatments, and ideas that may help you manage the pain.
Always consult your doctor about exercise, but know that it's important to stay active. For one thing, gaining weight will put added pressure on your joints so exercise can help to avoid that. For another, maintaining flexibility and ease of movement through exercise can help fight inflammation and pain, the Mayo Clinic said
. If you have rheumatoid or psoriatic arthritis, you may not be able to exercise at your regular levels, but you can do range-of-motion exercises and gentle movements.
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3. Move around frequently:
Arthritis will stiffen your joints when you sit for long periods of time, at your desk, for instance. Mayo recommends that you adjust your position often, take breaks, avoid overusing one particular joint, and stand up and walk around at least every 30 minutes.
4. Stop smoking:
Smoking harms connective tissues, which in turn, causes more arthritis pain. There is even speculation that smoking may be one of the things that triggers rheumatoid arthritis in some people, Mayo said.
5. Consider physical and occupational therapy:
Therapists are experts at working with painful joints, both to show you exercises to help alleviate pain and maintain mobility, but also at showing you how to work around certain challenges that arthritis brings, Mayo said. Opening jars, for instance, can be a challenge as arthritis in your hands progresses, and there are tools that can be purchased to make your life easier.
6. Heat and cold:
Applying heat and cold to joints affected by osteoarthritis can be helpful, Mayo said.
Get enough sleep and be willing to rest a painful, stiff joint.
Remember to consult your doctor before starting any new treatment.
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