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What Can You Do to Control Arthritis Pain?

Staying active, even while staying at home, should help control arthritis pain. We also offer other possible treatments that may help.
What Can You Do to Control Arthritis Pain?
Beautiful Senior woman doing Tai Chi exercise to keep her joints flexible isolated.

Shelter-at-home restrictions have meant widespread cancellation of exercise classes. Participants miss their workouts, and they also miss the camaraderie and community they find in class. Some readers tell us that without their routine, they will be in trouble. How can they control arthritis pain?

Exercise to Control Arthritis Pain:

Q. I am 68 and live in a senior apartment community. I have a lot of arthritis, and until recently, I have been attending an in-house exercise class. Three days a week, a professional instructor led us seniors in aerobics, balance and weight training. This has kept me alive.

Sadly, the class is now cancelled because of social distancing. I don’t know how I will manage my joint pain. Do you have any suggestions?

Keep Moving:

A. You definitely will want to maintain as much of your exercise routine as you can in your apartment. Significantly, scientists have found that exercise and stretching help maintain range of motion (Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, Jan. 2016).  You might order resistance bands online and use them in your indoor routines. If you can get outside for a walk, put on your mask, maintain your distance and go. Gentle walking is a good way to control arthritis pain. In addition, you may feel less anxious after a good walk. Be careful not to overdo it, though. 

Alternatives to Help Control Arthritis Pain:

We suggest several nondrug therapies in our eGuide to Alternatives for Arthritis. You could try adding Knox Gelatine to yogurt to see if that helps. You might also consider a vinegar-juice combination, pineapple extract (bromelain), or herbs such as ashwagandha, boswellia, ginger or turmeric. The eGuide is an online resource. Some people prefer a print copy. They might wish to order our book instead. It is Graedons’ Guide to Alternatives for Arthritis

Some people take dietary supplements such as MSM or SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine). A systematic review concluded that capsaicin lotions or SAMe pills may help control arthritis pain (Rheumatology, May 2011). You should be able to order the supplements online. 

Learn More:

You may wish to listen to our interview with Dr. Beth Jonas of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It is Show 1140: How Can You Manage Arthritis Pain?

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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  • De Silva V et al, "Evidence for the efficacy of complementary and alternative medicines in the management of osteoarthritis: A systematic review." Rheumatology, May 2011. DOI: 10.1093/rheumatology/keq379
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