Do you or someone you love suffer from arthritis that makes life more painful than it needs to be? Join the club. Arthritis afflicts 54 million U.S. adults, according to the Arthritis Foundation. In fact, it is the leading cause of disability among U.S. adults over 55, and in many cases, it leads to taking big moves: total-joint replacements. Surgery is a huge life-changing decision that’s may be necessary. But it may also be your last resort. Is surgery the only way to treat your arthritis? It depends what else you’ve tried first.
The fact is, arthritis is not something that can be removed with surgery or scraped out with a scope. You must listen to your joints. When you’ve tried all of these non-surgical measures and they don’t seem to work any longer, then surgery may be your best option. If surgery is necessary, rapid and successful recovery is possible by having optimized your physical and nutritional health beforehand. How?
There are several steps you can take to deal with arthritis before a surgical option. These measures, some of which you can perform without the aid of a medical professional, often can significantly lessen the pain and improve the quality of life.
5 Non-Surgical Steps For Treating Your Arthritis
1. Wear good shoes with arch supports.
WHY IT HELPS: With weight bearing and time, the arches in feet tend to fail.
HOW TO MAKE IT HAPPEN: Good shoes with arch supports improve the alignment of the feet and ultimately improve the alignment of the knees. The feet and ankles act as shock absorbers for the knees.
2. Have a daily exercise and balance program.
HOW TO MAKE IT HAPPEN: Anyone with arthritis should engage in at least a 20-minute daily exercise program. Exercise should include stretching, aerobic activity, and strength training.
3. Use a hinged knee brace for support.
WHY IT HELPS: It unloads the arthritic area and allows you to pursue more pain-free activities, which you may not have been able to do otherwise.
HOW TO MAKE IT HAPPEN: Wear the smallest brace that makes you the most comfortable. Do not wear the brace for everyday activities, but for extra activities such as golfing, shopping or exercise.
4. Watch your weight.
WHY IT HELPS: Weight loss reduces the stress on your knees and increases mobility.
HOW TO MAKE IT HAPPEN: Eat nutritious foods; keep your weight under control. Why not try an anti-inflammatory diet? Sugar and processed foods cause inflammation of the arteries as well as inflammation of the joints.
5. Improve your bone health.
WHY IT HELPS: Should you eventually need a total joint replacement, building up your bone density will improve your chances of having a long-lasting replacement.
HOW TO MAKE IT HAPPEN: Improving your bone health with increased calcium intake, daily vitamin D, and weight-bearing exercises can lessen the pain of arthritis.
Dr. Victor Romano is an orthopedic surgeon and the author of Finding The Source: Maximizing Your Results – With and WithoutOrthopaedic Surgery. He is board-certified in orthopedics and sports medicine with over 25 years of experience in the field.