While this type of arthritis can hinder the performance of daily tasks and activities, it may have other ill effects: A study published in 2019 in the journal Osteoarthritis and Cartilage He found that knee and hip OA were associated with an increased risk of death from heart disease.
Eric K. Holder, MD, associate professor of orthopedic surgery and rehabilitation at Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut, may lead to increased inflammation in the body, which is itself linked to heart disease. And the A study published in 2020 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Association She found that the condition can lead to social isolation, which can also be harmful to health.
Osteoporosis affects 32.5 million adults in the United States
Good news: While many of the medications used for pain relief aren’t recommended for regular use by older adults, there are a number of lifestyle medications. Other non-pharmacological treatments It can help relieve symptoms — and prevent arthritis, says Heidi Prather, MD, a physiatrist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. Here’s what the experts advise.
Reducing stress and getting a better night’s sleep may not seem like they’ll help with OA. But some evidence suggests they might. a A study published in the journal PLOS One in 2020For example, it was found that people age 50 and older who got six or less hours of sleep a night were 20 percent more likely to develop arthritis than those who got between seven and eight hours. They were also 30 percent more likely to have severe joint pain.
“Sleep is crucial to pain perception,” says Brother. Inadequate nap time can lower levels of neurotransmitters — feel-good brain chemicals that can help relieve pain, she explains. Stress, for its part, can worsen sleep, thus changing the way we perceive pain.
Meditation for people who think they can’t meditate
To address both issues, you can try a mindfulness technique such as meditation. small one A study published in the journal Alternative and Complementary TherapiesFor example, it found that women with osteoarthritis of the knee who practiced meditation for 15 to 20 minutes twice daily for eight weeks reported significant improvements in pain, quality of life, and improved knee function.
It is also important to deal with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. a A study published in 2019 in the journal Pain It found that people who reported symptoms of anxiety were 70 percent more likely to report knee pain within the next year. “There may be an association between these feelings and inflammation,” says Prather. Talk to your doctor about treatments that can help you.
If you are overweight, shedding 5 to 10 pounds may help reduce pain and movement. and A study published in 2021 in the International Journal of Obesity It found that overweight and obese people who lost more than 7.5 percent of their weight were less likely to have a total knee replacement compared to those who did not lose or gain weight.
Losing weight may also reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, or if you already have it, you can help control it. “We know that uncontrolled diabetes causes inflammation that exacerbates osteoporosis,” says Eliana Cardoso, MD, a sports medicine physician at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.
Losing weight can help protect your knees from arthritis
Benefits of a plant-based diet
a A 2018 study published in the Journal of Complementary Therapy in Medicine It found that people who followed the plant-based approach for eight weeks reported significant improvements in musculoskeletal pain — even if they didn’t lose weight. “A diet that is complete, nutrient-rich and low on processed products and sugar is key, as it helps reduce inflammation that contributes to pain,” Holder says.
One good option: a Mediterranean-style diet, rich in produce, whole grains, seafood, beans and nuts. A diet high in sugar may negatively affect the gut microbiome, according to a study published in the journal PLOS One in 2021. “Your gut makes most of the body’s serotonin, a mood-enhancing brain chemical that makes it easier for you to tolerate,” says Prather.
The best foods to nourish the gut microbiome
Exercise the right way
“In my opinion, exercise — including physical therapy — is the single most important non-surgical treatment that exists for osteoarthritis,” says orthopedic surgeon Timothy Gibson, MD, medical director of Memorial Care Joint Replacement Center at Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California. It not only strengthens the surrounding muscles and takes pressure off the joints, but it improves general function and provides a mental benefit, which can make dealing with pain easier. “
In terms of exercise, the most beneficial OA is a combination of aerobic exercise, strength training, and flexibility exercises, says Elaine Hosni, MD, vice president of rheumatology and immunology at Cleveland Clinic. But it is important to customize the exercises according to your fitness level. “If the patient is stable, I start with hydrotherapy, such as aerobics in the pool,” she says. “Once they tolerate it, they switch to low-impact ground therapy, such as walking or cycling.”
Hosny also recommend Tai Chi. a A 2021 study published in BMC Geriatrics It found that older adults with osteoarthritis of the knee who participated in this gentle activity twice a week for 12 weeks performed significantly better on procedures such as standing on one leg than those who did not. Another good option is the yoga chair. “It’s especially good if you’re sedentary, because it removes the fear of falling, and it doesn’t require as much basic balance,” Hosni says.
If exercising is too painful, ask your doctor if a course of physical therapy is warranted. A physical therapist can teach you how to strengthen the muscles around your joints with little or no pain, along with techniques that make everyday activities easier, such as going up and down stairs.
For episodes of arthritis, you can apply an over-the-counter topical to a painful joint. These include NSAIDs such as Voltaren, and products that contain capsaicin, such as Zostrix.
For added relief, you may be able to use over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen (Motrin IB, generic) for a short time if you have well-controlled blood pressure and a healthy liver and kidneys, Hosni says. Ask your doctor. Otherwise, acetaminophen (Tylenol, generic) may be best.
There are also injections: steroids, hyaluronic acid, and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) – an experimental treatment that uses the patient’s own platelets.
Hyaluronic acid, similar to a substance in joints, may work for some people, but the guidelines of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons do not recommend its routine use in OA. PRP has shown some hope for tendon, muscle, and ligament injuries in young adults, but not for moderate to severe OA, Hosni says.
“For some people, a certain injection can help relieve their pain for a while,” says Cardoso, who also advises an individual approach based on factors such as the degree of arthritis.
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