Guardian Carers Feature on BBC News London

How to ease arthritis

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Arthritis is the term we use to talk about a range of degenerative conditions which affect the joints. The most common of which, osteoarthritis, affects many of us as we age. This complaint causes stiffness and pain in the joints and is marked by inflammation. However, there are many ways in which you can ease the discomfort of arthritis. Some of these are medical treatments, some natural remedies and of course, lifestyle changes.

1. Painkillers and anti-inflammatory medications

The most common approach to the treatment of arthritis is with the use of painkillers and anti-inflammatory medications. These include paracetamol and ibuprofen tablets and creams. You can take these as needed during a ‘flare up’ or when your joints feel particularly uncomfortable. You can also decide to take them preemptively to reduce inflammation. However, lifestyle changes and natural medicines can also be useful in managing your symptoms.

2. Managing weight and fitness

Keeping to a healthy weight and staying active are two of the best ways of easing arthritis pain. While exercising with arthritis can be challenging, certain activities will help. Swimming and arthritis-specific yoga help to keep the joints supple while reducing any strain. These will also help you stay slimmer, taking the strain off your joints.

How to ease arthritis

3. Alternative medicines

There is also a range of natural remedies you can try, which rely on herbs such as ginko and nettle. You can try these relatively cheaply in tea form. But if you do decide to take any pills or drops, do speak to your doctor first and let them know.

4. Physio and massage

It’s a well-known fact that massaging arthritic joints regularly can help reduce pain and stiffness. There is also plenty of evidence to show it improves your range of motion too. You can talk to your doctor about receiving these massages with a trained physiotherapist. However, if you’d prefer someone to come to you in your home, consider a licensed massage therapist trained in arthritic massage.

5. Hot and cold therapy

Using hot and cold therapy can make all the difference to arthritic joint pain. Taking long, warm baths helps loosen up the stiffness and prepares you to stay active during the day. During an inflammation flare up, you can also use a cold pack from the fridge to provide direct relief. If you can’t make it to the bath, consider a moist heating pad keep your joints pain free and loose.

How to ease arthritis

6. Avoid stress

And surprisingly, one of the best ways you can ease the discomfort of arthritis is by mitigating stress. In the modern world, stress is all around us and there’s not much we can do about that. But how you react to stress matters. Arthritis thrives on tight muscles and increased blood pressure. So if you feel yourself getting worked up or worried, use a distraction technique - meditate, listen to music or get out of the house and meet someone for a walk or a cup of coffee.

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