5 ways you can take control of arthritis

You can’t always prevent the onset of arthritis, but making certain lifestyle changes can help your joints and the amount of pain you feel.

We share 5 ways to help manage the condition and offer advice from Paul Gill our Orthopaedic Consultant and Knee Surgeon.

Did you know that around 10 million people have arthritis in the UK?1

Here are 5 ways you can take control of your arthritis:

1. Keep exercising


When you’re feeling achy and in pain, the idea of exercising may not seem appealing. Some people also worry that exercise may make their joints worse. However this is not the case. Physical activity is really important when it comes to managing arthritis and improving your overall health. In fact, exercise can increase muscle strength, reduce pain and improve mobility2.

You don’t need to do anything too strenuous either. Low-impact activities that are joint-friendly include walking, swimming and cycling. It’s also important to balance exercise with adequate rest.

It’s always best to talk to your GP or consultant before exercising with arthritis. They’ll advise which exercises are best suited to you depending on your type of arthritis and individual needs.

The Consultant's View

Orthopaedic Consultant and Knee Surgeon, Paul Gill from BMI Chelsfield Park Hospital and BMI The Sloane Hospital, offers advice on exercise and osteoarthritis.

Q: Does exercise help osteoarthritis?

Paul Gill says...

There is increasing evidence that exercise can promote joint health and improve arthritic symptoms.

Healthy joints are lined by articular cartilage which acts to both absorb and distribute the loads that the joint experiences during physical activity. As cartilage has no blood supply it receives its nutrition and oxygen from joint fluid. When the joint is loaded, fluid is squeezed out of the cartilage. When the joint is offloaded, fluid is “sucked’ back in along with oxygen and nutrients necessary to maintain healthy cartilage. Regular moderate exercise can then contribute to maintaining healthy articular cartilage.

The two other main problems related to osteoarthritis are loss of range of movement of the joint and weakness of adjacent muscles. Regular exercise helps to maintain range of movement, good muscle tone and stability of the joint.

Many people believe their osteoarthritic knees are the result of all the exercise and sport they did when they were younger. However, this is not necessarily the case. Although sports related joint injuries are associated with an increased risk of developing osteoarthritis3, it may be that some people give up regular exercise as they get older which can lead to the deterioration of their cartilage and the development of osteoarthritis.

An increase in weight may also contribute to the “wear and tear” process which results in excessive loads across the joint.

Ultimately, regular exercise along with a healthy diet and lifestyle, and controlling weight, can all contribute to maintaining healthy joints and improving arthritic symptoms.

2. Eat well

Mediterranean diet

What you eat – and don’t eat – plays an important role in the management of arthritis. Unlike genetics, diet is something we are in control of and making certain dietary changes can be beneficial.

The Mediterranean diet has long been celebrated for its health benefits. This type of diet places emphasis on anti-inflammatory foods such as fruits and vegetables, yoghurt, fresh fish, and healthy fats such as olive oil and nuts. It also limits the intake of potentially inflammatory foods like red meat and dairy.

One study found that although this diet won’t eradicate symptoms, incorporating them into your daily lifestyle may help to delay disease progression and reduce damage to joints in patients with rheumatoid arthritis4.

Here are more foods that can reduce inflammation
  • Fruits, such as strawberries, blueberries, mango, banana and apples5
  • Vegetables, such as spinach, kale and tomatoes
  • Cereals
  • Legumes
  • Herbs
  • Olive oil
  • Fish, such as mackerel, salmon and tuna
  • Nuts
  • Spices, such as ginger and turmeric
  • Yoghurt

3. Maintain a healthy weight

If you’re overweight and you have arthritis, you may want to consider shedding some pounds to help you maintain a healthy weight.

For those who are obese or overweight, losing weight has many benefits. It can reduce pressure on your joints, ease pain and inflammation and reduce the risk of chronic diseases6.

One study found that losing one pound of weight, takes four pounds of pressure off your knee joint load7.

4. Avoid alcohol


It’s thought that drinking alcohol in moderation may reduce your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis8. However, if you already have arthritis, the consumption of alcohol may cause more harm than good.

One of the main concerns of drinking alcohol when you have arthritis is the potential interactions with medication. Many painkillers or anti-inflammatory drugs don’t mix well with alcohol and can have harmful side effects, such as stomach bleeding and ulcers.

If you have arthritis and are thinking about drinking alcohol, make sure to speak to your doctor for advice first.

5. Control stress

Arthritis can make carrying out simple daily tasks difficult, which can be stressful. Stress itself may cause physical effects which can negatively impact on your overall health9. If you have rheumatoid arthritis, getting stressed may make your pain worse10.

If you’re struggling with stress and anxiety, you could try moderate exercise such as practising yoga or going for a swim. It’s also important to manage stress by maintaining a balanced diet and making sure you’re getting enough sleep.

Watch our video to hear Paul Gill talk about the different lifestyle choices that can help to maintain healthy joints.


Living with arthritis

It’s important to remember that what works for one person may not work for another. But making the decision to take control of your health, and trying new ways of managing your arthritis, may improve your physical symptoms as well as your mental well-being.

To find out more call us on 0808 101 0337
or make an online enquiry.

2 https://www.arthritisaction.org.uk/living-with-arthritis/self-management/exercise-and-arthritis/

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