LIFESTYLE CHANGES TO MANAGE OSTEOARTHRITIS
There are a number of lifestyle changes that are usually recomended to help manage Osteoarthritis symptoms:
1. Losing weight -- Losing any extra weight helps relieve the pressure on your joints and may slow down the loss of cartilage as well as relieve pain. If you have osteoarthritis, and are overweight, losing weight is one of the best things you can do to help your condition. For more information and tips on weight management / weight loss, click here.
2. Exercise -- Although it may seem hard to think about exercise when you are in pain, regular exercise is another good thing you can do when you have Osteoarthritis. Exercise strengthens the muscles so they better support your joints. Clinical studies also suggest that in addition to reduction of pain and disability, exercise improves strength, range of motion, balance and coordination, endurance, and posture. Walking is a great exercise, or, if walking is too painful, try aqua exercises in warm water. Water supports your joints and the warmth is soothing. Also, gentle range of motion exercises can increase your flexibility and decrease pain in affected joints. Our naturopathic doctor may recommend physical therapy for specific joints.
3. Nutrition and Dietary Supplements -- Proper nutrition is key for prevention and healing health issues. Eating a balanced, healthy diet can help reduce inflammation in your body and may also help you lose weight or maintain a proper weight.For more information on what specific supplements your body requires, have a proper naturopathic assessment done at our clinic.
Here are a few naturopathic health tips to follow:
- Eat foods that help to decrease inflammation such as garlic, onions, watercress, horseradish, mustard, parsley, celery, lime, and anti-inflammatory oils (nuts, seeds, cold-water fish).
- Avoid the night - shade family foods such as tomatoes, eggplants, green peppers and potatoes, as these foods will worsen symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Avoid refined foods, such as white breads, pastas, and sugars, which tend to make the body more acidic and worsen inflammation.
- Eat less red meats, which may promote inflammation, and enjoy more lean meats such as chicken and turley, cold-water fish, tofu (soy, if you are not allergic to it) or beans for protein. Try to follow a vegetarian diet if possible. For benefits for a vegetarian diet, click here.
- Eat a balanced diet that is rich in unprocessed foods and have more fruits, vegetables, and whole foods.
- Use healthy cooking oils, such as cold pressed olive oil for cooking at low temperatures or coconut oil / grape seed oil for cooking at high temperatures.
- Reduce or eliminate trans-fatty acids, found in commercially baked goods such as cookies, crackers, cakes, French fries, onion rings, donuts, processed foods, and margarine.
- Avoid caffeine and other stimulants, alcohol, and tobacco.
- Drink at least 6 - 8 glasses of filtered water daily.
- Exercise moderately, for 30 minutes daily, 5 days a week.
4. Acupuncture -- Several controlled clinical trials suggest that the ancient Chinese practice of acupuncture is a very effective treatment for relieving osteoarthritic pain. It may also help improve joint function. A few clinical studies have found that people with OA experience better pain relief and improvement in function from acupuncture than from non-steroidal anti-inflammatory. At our naturopathic clinic, we have found that the combination of acupuncture and massage treatments with heat has been very beneficial for pain relief and inflammation for our patients suffering from osteoarthritis, along with dietary changes and supplementation.
5. Balneotherapy (Hydrotherapy or spa therapy) -- Balneotherapy is one of the oldest forms of therapy for pain relief for people with arthritis. The term "balneo" comes from the Latin word for bath (balneum) and refers to bathing in thermal or mineral waters. Sulfur-containing mud baths, for example, have been shown to relieve symptoms of arthritis. However, hydrotherapy, which can be performed under the guidance of certain physical therapists, is occasionally used interchangeably with the word balneotherapy. The goals of balneotherapy for arthritis include:
- Improving range of joint motion
- Increasing muscle strength
- Eliminating muscle spasm
- Enhancing functional mobility
- Easing pain
Our naturopathic doctor may recommend hydrotherapy if it is required for your condition.
6. Mind-Body Medicine -- Chronic pain and disability can make daily life difficult. Treating the whole person and paying attention to the mind as well as the body can improve quality of life. Many people report that relaxation techniques, such as guided imagery and meditation, are an important part of their care, and help to reduce pain and other symptoms of OA.
7. Yoga -- This ancient Indian practice is well known for its physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual benefits. In the West, it is often recommended to relieve musculoskeletal symptoms and some studies have found it can help relieve OA pain.
In one clinical trial studying OA of the hand, the group practicing yoga showed significantly less pain and improved range of motion compared to those participating in non-yoga stretching and strengthening sessions. Some yoga "asanas" (postures) strengthen the quadriceps and emphasize stretching, both of which help people with OA of the knee. People with arthritis should begin asanas slowly and carefully and they should be performed only after a warm up. Look for a
reputable instructor who knows how to modify postures for people with arthritis.
8. Preventive Care -- You may reduce the risk of developing OA by:
- Protecting an injured joint from further damage
- Losing weight and maintaining a proper weight
- Avoiding repetitive motions
The information provided here is not to diagnose or treat any person, please talk to your naturopathic doctor before starting on any natural therapies. To book an appointment with our naturopathic doctor, please call the clinic at 416 913 4325.