According to the NHS, it is thought that over ten million people in the UK have arthritis. While arthritis is most commonly associated with the older generation, an increasing number of children are now diagnosed with the condition. Arthritis affects the joints causing pain, tenderness, inflammation and stiffness which, together, can limit movement. While unfortunately, there is no real cure for arthritis, there are a number of ways in which individuals can begin to ease symptoms. Here we delve deeper into the question “how do you slow down arthritis?”, taking a closer look at proven techniques.
How Do You Slow Down Arthritis? – Ways To Manage Pain And Discomfort
While there are over ten different variations of arthritis, the two most common types continue to be osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis – As the most common form of arthritis, osteoarthritis affects almost nine million people. While osteoarthritis can occur at any age, it is most prevalent in those over the age of 40. It roughens and thins the cartilage lining, which forces the tendons and ligaments to work harder.
Rheumatoid Arthritis – Unlike osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis most commonly begins affecting individuals between the age of 40 and 50. It targets the immune system of the joints, causing pain and swelling. Rheumatoid arthritis can spread across the joint, eventually breaking down the cartilage and bones.
As an incredibly common condition in the UK, continuous research as enabled individuals to pinpoint specific methods of slowing down symptoms. After meticulous research, we have put together six proven lifestyle changes to reduce pain, inflammation and discomfort.
Improve Your Diet
While adapting your diet and lifestyle choices will not cure arthritis, taking a healthier approach can work towards easing your symptoms. As the saying goes “you are what you eat”. Regardless of whether you have arthritis or not, if you feed your body rich, nutrient-packed snacks and meals, your body will most definitely thank you for it. There are a plethora of fantastic superfoods which have been proven to strengthen the bones, reduce inflammation and give your immune system a well-needed boost. Opting to incorporate beneficial ingredients to your diet, over time, will begin to improve your wellbeing. Some of the most advantageous superfoods include the following:
- Fish – Fish proves particularly helpful for those with rheumatoid arthritis as it is packed with omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids contribute towards reducing inflammation, helping you to feel just that little more comfortable. It is recommended that you try to add around four ounces of fish to your meals, twice a week. You can find tonnes of tasty fish recipes on BBC Good Food.
- Citrus Fruits – Of course, fruits had to make it into our list of beneficial superfoods. Any citrus-based fruits, whether this may be oranges or grapefruits, help to promote healthy joints, thanks to their high level of vitamin C. Citrus is particularly beneficial for those with rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis.
- Nuts – Next time you reach for a snack, why not consider switching your chocolate bar for some nuts? Not only are nuts a super healthy alternative to sugar-packed snacks, but they are also rich in a number of nutrients. Protein, zinc, vitamin E, calcium and magnesium can all be found in nuts such as pistachios, walnuts and almonds.
- Oils – Although it can often be somewhat tricky to add specific ingredients to your diet, it couldn’t be easier to infuse your meals with different oils. Extra virgin olive oil includes similar properties to medication that targets inflammation, while avocado oil helps towards lowering cholesterol. SELF has put together a super helpful article on the ten healthiest cooking oils.
- Green Tea – While green tea may not necessarily be a ‘superfood’, it is too good not to include. Green tea is filled with a host of antioxidants which not only reduce inflammation but also slow down cartilage destruction. If you opt for a green tea called EGCG, in particular, it is capable of working towards blocking the production of joint-damaging molecules.
Work With A Healthcare Team
Everyone is different, which means that different management techniques work for different people. What may help one person to ease symptoms of arthritis may be futile for another. With this in mind, it remains imperative to work alongside your healthcare team to devise a treatment plan tailored to you. They would have had years of experience helping those with arthritis, which means that they will be able to analyse your condition before recommending the best route to fit with your requirements.
Not only can healthcare teams advise a treatment plan, but they will also connect you with industry professionals who can provide additional support. From dietitians and chiropractors to physiotherapists and occupational therapists, there is an array of experts who can help towards improving your wellbeing.
While you may have an effective treatment plan in place, it is vital to continue visiting your healthcare team on a regular basis. In doing this, you can manage your progression and make any necessary changes if required.
Keep Moving & Exercising
The symptoms of arthritis can quickly begin to impact an individuals quality of life. Stiffness, pain and discomfort can all begin to make movement limited, making daily tasks immensely difficult. One of the best ways to manage arthritis is to keep moving, whether this may be through gentle stretching or high-intensity workouts. Staying active, while it may prove tricky at first, will begin to improve your overall mobility while helping to relieve joint pain. Luckily, there are a wealth of fantastic arthritis-friendly exercises for all levels, helping you to manage symptoms. Below we have listed just some of the many possibilities:
- Aerobic Activities – Walking, swimming and cycling are all great aerobic activities to ease yourself into working out. One of the most significant benefits of aerobic exercises is that they range from mild to moderate and you can take each session at your own pace. Aerobic activities will help not only arthritis, but also your overall fitness.
- Strength Training – Building muscle and strengthening the body is a proven way to control joint inflammation. It is crucial to make the transition into strength training slow, avoiding throwing yourself into lifting the heaviest weights immediately. Start light and work yourself up as you begin to feel stronger. Always ensure that you allow yourself at least one day of rest between each strength training session.
- Yoga – As one of the most relaxed forms of exercise, yoga is proven to improve both physical and mental wellbeing. Yoga involved various different stretches, which is perfect for enhancing joint flexibility and mobility. It also helps in improving your balance and stability.
When incorporating workouts to your lifestyle, we suggest taking a browse through Class Finder. The handy search tool allows you to find all manner of exercise classes in your local area based on your postcode and preferred time. There are a number of different categories, including classes for beginners along with those specifically designed to de-stress the mind and body. You can also find more information on exercising with arthritis on the Arthritis Foundation website.
Adapt Your Bathroom
Your home should be the ultimate haven for relaxation, a place where you can unwind and feel maximum comfort. However, with limited mobility, manoeuvring around a property with ease can prove somewhat tricky. The bathroom, in particular, often features a small floorplan, which means that bathing and showering can come alongside many complications. There are a whole host of potential dangers, along with slipping and falling hazards. With this in mind, Lifestyle Mobility has spent time refining services to provide clients with entirely bespoke suites. Teams have years of experience designing and installing mobility bathrooms in Buckingham, Milton Keynes and all surrounding areas. Just some of the many ways you can adapt your bathroom and promote independent living include installing a walk-in bath or shower.
With an array of styles available, walk-in baths feature a low step which means that stepping into the bath couldn’t be easier. There will no longer be any need to lift legs high to get in and out of the bath. Baths also feature a watertight door, which means that individuals can get comfortable then begin to run the water. Seats, towel rails and slip-resistant features can all be added for optimum comfort. For more information on the installation of walk-in baths in Buckingham and surrounding areas, please do not hesitate to contact Lifestyle Mobility.
If you are less of a bather and prefer to jump in the shower, then opting for a walk-in shower would be the perfect alternative. Every component of the shower can be customised to fit with requirements, again, with the option to add features such as seating and grab rails. Due to the size of walk-in showers and ability to be designed with an infinity tray, they are also an ideal option for wheelchair users.
As arthritis is characterised as the inflammation the joints, aiming to keep inflammation at a low is one of the best ways to slow down the severity of symptoms. If you are yet to be prescribed anti-inflammatory medication, then it is most definitely speaking to your doctor about whether you would be a suitable candidate. It is imperative only to take medication that has been professionally prescribed and always take doses as instructed.
Plan Activities Ahead
Arthritis comes in many different forms, which means that it is vital to plan activities around what best suits your requirements. Aim to organise your routine strategically so that you avoid any movements that you know causes either discomfort or pain. Also, consider reducing strenuous activities that you find difficult and may make you feel achy or uncomfortable the following day.
Planning ahead also means organising your home to make manoeuvring as straightforward as possible. Although we have already touched on how to adapt your bathroom, remaining organised can also mean merely keeping essential items in easy-to-access places. For example, place cooking essentials in a low cupboard so you can grab items without having to reach high or bend down. You may also want to consider putting cleaning products in both the bathroom and kitchen, so you do not have to carry supplies up and down the stairs. It’s all about making your home and lifestyle accessible and practical, tailoring activities to minimise the amount of stress you put on your body.
Improve Your Lifestyle, One Day At A Time
Managing the symptoms of arthritis will not always be easy; however, there are a plethora of different ways that you can prevent issues from worsening. Spending time to experiment with different techniques will most definitely work towards your advantage as it will allow you to uncover what works best for you. Regardless of the activity or lifestyle change you opt for, aim to keep the strain on your body at a minimum. Stop whenever you begin to feel pain or discomfort and most importantly, relax!