Arthritis pain can be reduced and managed
Seniors shouldn’t have to suffer with ongoing arthritis pain, especially when nearly 50% of people over age 65 have reported doctor-diagnosed arthritis.
Even though arthritis can’t be cured, it can be kept under control with a combination of simple treatments and lifestyle changes.
We share 7 tips to help reduce and manage your older adult’s arthritis pain.
It might take some trial and error before finding what works best for them, so be patient and keep trying different things.
1. Prepare ahead to work with their doctor
Before their doctor appointment, observe or talk with your older adult over a few days to figure out where the pain is, when it’s worst, and which activities they struggle with most.
Write down these observations and discuss them with their doctor.
Having specific information helps the doctor understand the symptoms, rule out other conditions that could be causing problems, and recommend treatments.
2. Use heat therapy
Heat loosens up stiff joints and muscles, stimulates circulation, and reduces muscle spasms.
But be sure to protect senior skin from direct contact with heat packs by keeping a thin towel between the skin and heat source.
You can also make a DIY heat pack by microwaving a wet towel for 1-2 minutes. Put the hot towel in a plastic bag and wrap that with a dry towel to protect the skin – instant heat at no cost!
3. Use cold therapy
If heat isn’t doing the trick, try cold therapy.
There are a variety of handy cold wraps and pads that make it easier to keep ice on knees, wrists, and other body parts.
Cold packs may be uncomfortable at first, but they can numb deep pain. Rubbing ice cubes or a small bag of ice over painful areas also reduces swelling and inflammation.
Make sure to use a towel to prevent skin from directly touching the cold pack and take breaks after 10-15 minutes (or sooner for fragile skin) so skin doesn’t get too cold.
4. Combine heat and cold therapy
Some people get the most arthritis pain relief using both heat and cold.
Heat therapy sometimes works best earlier in the day because it relaxes the muscles around the joints.
Cold therapy at the end of the day can minimize inflammation from daily activities.
5. Move and exercise regularly
Many older adults with arthritis don’t want to move because it hurts.
But not moving actually makes arthritis pain worse, so it’s important not to stay in the same position for too long.
It may be painful to get started, but regular activity does reduce arthritis pain. Throughout the day, seniors need to move, flex, and use the joints that hurt.
Encourage your older adult to get up at least once an hour.
If they resist, be creative and invent a useful reason for them to move around or change position. Bathroom trips count too.
Adding daily exercises to their regular routine also brings greater arthritis pain relief over time.
It doesn’t matter what their fitness level is. Even slowly walking around the kitchen using a walker or going back and forth in the hallway a few times is a good joint workout.
6. Use massage
Gently massaging painful joints helps warm up and relax the area. You could help give massages or they can self-massage the areas they can reach.
It’s a great wind-down activity and could also help them sleep better.
If even gentle massage is painful, try using heat beforehand to warm the area first. Adding lotions or oils to reduce friction can also help.
7. Maintain a healthy weight
Did you know that losing just 1 pound takes 4 pounds of pressure off each knee?
Being at a healthy weight is better for joints because more body weight means more pressure on joints.
If your older adult is overweight, helping them to adopt a healthier diet and increase exercise can help them shed a few pounds and take a lot of pressure off their joints.
8. Add omega-3s to reduce inflammation
Eating fish rich in omega-3 like salmon, sardines, herring, and tuna or taking omega-3 supplements can reduce inflammation levels in the body, which helps decrease arthritis pain.
Make sure to ask your older adult’s doctor before adding any supplements in case they have negative interactions with any of their prescriptions.
Recommended for you:
- 3 Exercises for Relieving Arthritis Pain in Hips
- 10 Simple Arthritis Aids Help Seniors with Everyday Tasks
- 8 Arthritis Dressing Tips Make Life Easier for Seniors
By DailyCaring Editorial Team
Image: Age with Charm