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April 20, 2020 - TCO

5 Ways to Manage Osteoarthritis

As the most common type of arthritis worldwide, osteoarthritis will not be taking a break during the current coronavirus pandemic. With changes to medical care in compliance with social distancing and the stay-at-home order, people struggling with osteoarthritis could use some guidance on how to manage their symptoms while cooped up at home.  Here are five suggestions to help manage your osteoarthritis symptoms.

1. Physical Activity

Moderate exercise can help reduce pain and improve function in individuals with osteoarthritis.  It is recommended to be physically active for 150 minutes per week.  An exercise program should include both aerobic exercise and strength training.  Walking or riding a bike are aerobic activities, which can be performed while appropriately social distancing.  Strength training does not require weights or gym equipment and can be done using body weight or resistance bands at home.

Here are some references for low-impact exercise:

2. Weight Loss

Though losing weight is always challenging, the current social environment will allow you the time to focus on preparing healthy meals.  With restaurants relegated to take-out or delivery and trips to the grocery store being limited, plan your meals a week ahead of time.  This will help you budget your finances, community exposure, and calories.

3. Ice

Establish a daily icing routine for the affected joint(s).  Ice can reduce the inflammation in the joint and subsequently help improve function.  Some patients feel a combination of alternating heat and ice offers them relief from their osteoarthritis symptoms.

4. Medications

Both topical (creams and gels) and oral medications can be used to manage the symptoms of osteoarthritis.  Numerous medications are available over-the-counter.  Pills that can be taken to minimize the pain include:  acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin.  Other medications can be placed directly on the joint as a cream, gel, or patch including: capsaicin, camphor, menthol, lidocaine, and emu oil.  CBD oil is quite popular at this time with many patients reporting benefit for painful joints, though limited scientific studies exist to explain its biologic effect.

5. Supplements

There are numerous dietary supplements available that may help the symptoms of osteoarthritis.  These include such supplements as glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM, turmeric, and ginger root.  A supplement is taken on a daily basis to assist in managing symptoms and not for a flare of symptoms.