Did you know that around 10 million people have arthritis in the UK?1
Here are five ways you can take control of your arthritis:
1. Keep exercising
When you’re feeling achy and in pain, the idea of exercising may not seem appealing. Some people also worry that exercise may make their joints worse. However this is not the case. Physical activity is really important when it comes to managing arthritis and improving your overall health. In fact, exercise can increase muscle strength, reduce pain and improve mobility2.
You don’t need to do anything too strenuous either. Low-impact activities that are joint-friendly include walking, swimming and cycling. It’s also important to balance exercise with adequate rest.
It’s always best to talk to your GP or consultant before exercising with arthritis. They’ll advise which exercises are best suited to you depending on your type of arthritis and individual needs.
THE CONSULTANT'S VIEW
2. Eat well
What you eat – and don’t eat – plays an important role in the management of arthritis. Unlike genetics, diet is something we are in control of and making certain dietary changes can be beneficial.
The Mediterranean diet has long been celebrated for its health benefits. This type of diet places emphasis on anti-inflammatory foods such as fruits and vegetables, yoghurt, fresh fish, and healthy fats such as olive oil and nuts. It also limits the intake of potentially inflammatory foods like red meat and dairy.
One study found that although this diet won’t eradicate symptoms, incorporating them into your daily lifestyle may help to delay disease progression and reduce damage to joints in patients with rheumatoid arthritis4.
3. Maintain a healthy weight
If you’re overweight and you have arthritis, you may want to consider shedding some pounds to help you maintain a healthy weight.
For those who are obese or overweight, losing weight has many benefits. It can reduce pressure on your joints, ease pain and inflammation and reduce the risk of chronic diseases6.
One study found that losing one pound of weight, takes four pounds of pressure off your knee joint load7.
4. Avoid alcohol
It’s thought that drinking alcohol in moderation may reduce your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis8. However, if you already have arthritis, the consumption of alcohol may cause more harm than good.
One of the main concerns of drinking alcohol when you have arthritis is the potential interactions with medication. Many painkillers or anti-inflammatory drugs don’t mix well with alcohol and can have harmful side effects, such as stomach bleeding and ulcers.
If you have arthritis and are thinking about drinking alcohol, make sure to speak to your doctor for advice first.
5. Control stress
Arthritis can make carrying out simple daily tasks difficult, which can be stressful. Stress itself may cause physical effects which can negatively impact on your overall health9. If you have rheumatoid arthritis, getting stressed may make your pain worse10.
If you’re struggling with stress and anxiety, you could try moderate exercise such as practising yoga or going for a swim. It’s also important to manage stress by maintaining a balanced diet and making sure you’re getting enough sleep.
Watch our video to hear Paul Gill talk about the different lifestyle choices that can help to maintain healthy joints.
Living with arthritis
It’s important to remember that what works for one person may not work for another. But making the decision to take control of your health, and trying new ways of managing your arthritis, may improve your physical symptoms as well as your mental well-being.