Living with Osteoarthritis
The main recommendations for preventing the development of the disease are, to have a healthy and balanced diet, carry out moderate physical exercise, and avoid obesity.
Avoiding obesity. The correct body weight helps to prevent the development of the disease. If there is overweight, the health professionals can help you to decrease it through a suitable diet.
Exercise. Gentle physical exercise, like walking on flat surfaces, swimming and cycling, help in preventing and improving the joint arthrosis.
It is not advised to carry out high impact exercise, since it could worsen the state of the joint and could increase the symptoms of the osteoarthritis.
When there is a lot of pain, it is recommended to have a period of relative rest.
Physiotherapy. Physiotherapy can help to improve the functioning of the affected joint and reduce the pain caused by this disease, by using a physical exercise program adapted and specific for each person and for every type of osteoarthritis, of the hands, elbows, shoulders, spine, hips, knees, and ankles.
The use of electrotherapy devices (such as, for example, ultrasound, analgesic currents, magnetotherapy, etc.) help to decrease the inflammation and pain.
Heat and cold. Heat or cold, whichever gives better relief, should be used for no more than 20-30 minutes a day.
Heat is generally more beneficial in osteoarthritis applied in the form of a bath or with an electric blanket. It is normal to have more pain in the morning, due to the inactivity of the night, and for this reason, a hot bath in the morning is a good way to unstiffen the affected joints.
Cold is good for reducing inflammation and toning up the area. It is useful to apply local cold using bags of ice or cold baths.
The thermal waters of spas also alleviate the pain and allow performing exercises while floating without putting weight on the joints.
Medication. You should not self-medicate. You should take the analgesics, anti-inflammatories, gels and creams, local injections, and drugs that the doctor prescribes on an individual basis to each patient.
Day to day recommendations
- Avoid maintaining the same posture for a long time. Do not spend too much time standing still. The weight should be shared between both legs and have a good support base.
- Sleep flat in bed, with a firm mattress.
- Avoid sitting in deep armchairs or sofas. Use seats with a straight back, where the hips and knees maintain a natural position and the feet are in contact with the floor.
- Do not carry excessive weights. Do the shopping with a trolley.
- Try not to walk on irregular surfaces, and do not stand up too long without resting.
- Use the elevator (lift) instead of the stairs.
- Wear shoes with thick soles or in-soles that can absorb the impact on walking, with a low heel and without laces so as not to have to bend down. Long handled shoe-horns can be of great use.
- Some patients will find it useful to use a walking stick, to maintain equilibrium and prevent falls.
- In order not to strain the joints, use aids, like electric can openers, domestic tools with a wide handle and lightweight, (cutlery, long-handled pegs…).
- Use of night splints at times when you have pain flare-up. It is not advisable to abuse these as, in the long run, you can damage the joint, leading to muscle atrophy and loss of mobility.
Living with a joint replacement
People who have an implant, whether in the hip, the knee, ankle, elbow, or shoulder can lead a normal life.
Furthermore, many patients recover activities that they were unable to do before, and the majority of them resume their sport or recreation activities. However, not all sports are recommended, particularly those that may result in suffering knocks and falls. You must consult with the doctor on which are the exercises and/or sport recommended in each case.
A patient that has an implant will have regular clinical and radiological monitoring to check the adequate functioning of the replacement.
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