Three Tips for Avoiding and Managing Arthritis Flare Ups
By Dr. Adam Alpers, D.O.
As you may be aware, worn cartilage in your joints does not mean you will be in chronic pain every single day. In fact, many of your joints may be in worse shape than the ones where you experience arthritic pain. While it can be tricky to avoid arthritis flare ups, there are at least three things you can do to help prevent them from ruining your life.
Avoid Unusually High or Low Temperatures
Many people are already aware of the fact that colder weather can cause a reduction in blood circulation. This, in turn, can cause enough reduction in the joints to cause increased levels of damage. Depending on the situation, elevated temperatures can also cause problems if the blood vessels that supply the joints are weak. Therefore, if you want to avoid arthritis flare- ups, it will always be to your advantage to ensure that your joints are protected from temperatures that fall outside of a comfortable range.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
No matter how you look at it, excess weight means that your body has to do more work in order to enable you to move from one place to another. Invariably, this will put increased strain on your joints. When combined with rapidly changing temperatures throughout the day, as well as other factors, you may find that arthritis flare-ups become the norm. That said, once you take off the excess weight, your joints may recover enough to enable you to live without pain. As an added bonus, you will also enjoy benefits associated with putting less strain on your heart and other vital organs.
Muscle and Strength Training
Realistically speaking, exercise will not increase the amount of cartilage that exists between the bones that form each joint in your body. On the other hand, exercise will improve blood circulation in these areas, and it will also increase the strength and stability of the muscles surrounding each joint. When it comes to your knees, hips, and other joints associated with walking, these factors are very important. At the very least, if your muscles are strong when an arthritis attack hits, they will not be as seriously affected while you are immobilized. In some cases, this can easily mean the difference between spending the rest of your life in a wheelchair and actually walking again.
Before you begin muscle and strength training for joint health, you must have a series of x-rays to determine the actual health of the cartilage in your joints. If the bones are actually rubbing together, or there is very little cartilage left, you may need to limit yourself to exercises that will not cause further problems. For example, instead of weight training, you may need to work with Pilates or other exercise that focus on muscles without putting extra strain on the joints.
Even though it may be impossible to avoid arthritis flare-ups, there are still some things you can do to minimize their impact on your life. For example, if you are in good physical health before an episode occurs, you will have a much better chance of resuming normal activities once it subsides. Therefore, regardless of your age, current activity levels, or health issues, you can still see your doctor to learn more about diets and exercise. This knowledge will help you to stave off debilitating pain and help you to recover from arthritis events.