Self-Help for Joint Pain

If you think that only snowy-haired grandmothers get arthritis, your vision needs revision. The same goes if you think that the first inklings of arthritis mean the beginning of the end to playing golf, cooking gourmet meals from scratch or doing everything case that you love.

Today, women with arthritis can lead full, satisfying lives  national medical adviser for the American Arthritis Foundation.  should know: At the age of 21, she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. But at 41, she’s still enjoying an active, happy life.

 WHY JOINTS FREEZE UP

Though there are more than 100 forms of arthritis, the two most prevalent are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis, or “wear-and-tear” arthritis, is a degenerative joint

disease that usually affects people over the age of 4 5. Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory autoimmune disease that often occurs in people ages 30 to 40, but it occurs most frequently in people the ages of 40 and 60. (Autoimmune means that your body turns against itself.) A disease with a decided sexual bias, rheumatoid arthritis is two to three times more common in women than men. And pregnancy can change its course: Symptoms often decrease,

only to flare up again after delivery. Rheumatoid arthritis is more sinister than osteoarthritis, because it can affect virtually every tissue in the body.

HELP FOR CRICKS AND CREAKS

No matter which forms of arthritis you have, women doctors offer this advice for minimizing aches, pains, swelling and stiffness.

Try a sock up of hot rice.

“One of my patients swears by her homemade rice pack for warming painful joints . She fills a little cotton bag (about 12 x 20 cm/5 x 8 inches) with rice and heats it in the microwave for two minutes.” You can make your own pouch using a new, clean white sports sock. Either way, make sure that you test the temperature of the rice pouch before placing it on your skin. Leave the pouch in place until it cools down.

 Pass the peas.

Heat isn’t the answer for everyone, says Rd. Brady. “Many women prefer using heat for pain, but some find cold more comfortable.” When pain flares up, grab a bag of frozen peas. “Drape the bag around the joint to ease pain and swelling.”

Cream yourself with hot pepper.

“Applying capsaicin cream, made with the active ingredient from hot peppers, can ease arthritis pain,   In our study, people applied a 0.075 per.

A Daily Bike Ride

  The American Arthritis Foundation’s national medical adviser, Dr , has had rheumatoid arthritis for 20 years. Here’s how she takes care of herself. For me, feeling good means following a daily routine. I take my medication regularly. (It’s easy to forget, and then you start hurting.) I wear wrist splints to bed at night. I loosen morning stiff ness in a long, hot shower. And I ride my exercise bike daily, even when I don’t feel like it. “When I really don’t feel like riding my bike, I tell myself that I only have to ride for two minutes. That gets me over the hump of starting and once live started. I’m usually able to keep on going for a complete workout.”

WHEN TO SEE A DOCTOR 

Women doctors say that the key to living well with any form of arthritis is getting an early, accurate diagnosis. “If you have arthritis, your doctor can refer you to a physical therapist right away.” says Nadine M. Fisher, Ed.D. assistant professor of rehabilitation medicine at the State University of New York at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. “Getting therapy early helps you head off the pain that can reduce your activity level and the quality of your life.

” cent capsaicin cream four times a day with good results. There is a 2.5 per cent cream available that may work more quickly. *Capsaicin has an effect on substance P, which nerve endings release to mediate pain, . Capsaicin cream doesn’t work instantly: regular applications are the key. Also, the cream burns, but this side effect diminishes over time. You can buy capsaicin cream from chemists.

Support swollen wrists.

Splinting a joint with a simple purchased wrist splint can ease pain, . “Sleeping with flexed wrists causes wrist pain. To keep your wrists from curling as you sleep, wear wrist splints available at chemists and department stores.”

Go to bed gloved.

“If you wake with stiff, swollen hands, it’s because body fluids re-settle at night, causing swelling in fingers that may already be swollen . To reduce swelling-and pain-get a snug-fitting pair of stretch gloves and wear them to bed.”

Lubricate for love-making.

“Sex can be painful for some women who have arthritis,” says psychologist Leslie SC hover. Some kinds of arthritis cause vaginal dryness. Get a vaginal moisturizer available over the counter, follow the directions and use it regularly as suggested.”

ANOTHER VITAL INGREDIENT

Women doctors agree that to get the better of arthritis, some type of exercise is, well, just what the doctor ordered. You want to strengthen the muscles that support the joints, If arthritis affects your knees, walking up or down stairs may be painfully hard. If you strengthen your knee muscles, then those stairs won’t be so hard to manage. “

Take an indoor ski trip.

The ideal exercise programmed should combine range-of-motion exercises with aerobics,” , For example, a cross-country ski machine accomplishes both. “The gliding lower-body motion of cross-country skiing is good for knee and hip problems. Take it easy if you have wrist pain, though-pressure from the poling motion may hurt if you have arthritis in your hands and wrists.”

Everyone into the water!

If you have access to a swimming pool especially a heated indoor pool-count yourself lucky. “Water exercise benefits almost everyone with arthritis,

Ride a bike.

“Riding an exercise bike for 20 to 30 minutes three times a week improves function and reduces pain, If you’re not the most coordinated person on Earth, or if you’re afraid of crashing or getting lost out on the road, a stationary bike is perfect.