While exercise can help reduce arthritic pain, what exercises are recommended for people with arthritis who experience joint pain? How can an arthritis sufferer create a work-out that will increase flexibility and reduce inflammation? Are there nutritional recommendations that can ease the pain of arthritis?
The Mayo Clinic reports that “exercise is crucial for people with arthritis as it increases strength and flexibility, reduces joint pain and helps combat fatigue.” However, when it is painful to walk or even sit down, the thought of hitting the gym’s cardio circuit may seem overwhelming.
“Regular exercise is recommended as both safe and useful to maintain muscle strength and overall physical function,” says Dr. Javier Vilasuso, an interventional pain medicine physician at Anesthesia Pain Care Consultants. “If exercise is not an option due to the severity of the pain, management of the pain symptoms is essential to reducing inflammation and facilitating future functional mobility.”
“Arthritis patients generally need to avoid high impact loading forms of exercise such as long distance running, sprinting and plyometrics (also known as ‘jump training’ which are exercises in which muscles exert maximum force in short interviews),” says Dr. Nathan Wei, founder of the Arthritis Treatment Center. “I say generally because some patients who are in remission can likely engage in higher impact activities. A lot also is dependent on a person’s prior conditioning.”
“I have a patient who has bad knees but he is a triathlete,” says Dr. Wei. “After providing some regenerative therapies for his knees, he was able to complete many more triathlons.”
“Yoga is an excellent activity that teaches balance, coordination, strength as well as stretching,” says Dr. Wei.
“Maintaining an ideal weight and engaging in a combination of cardio, resistance training and stretching are the exercises I recommend to my patients,” says Dr. Wei.
“Nine out of ten individuals who suffer from arthritis can make changes in the diet which will relieve arthritic symptoms,” says Dr. Don Colbert, author of the new book, Let Food Be Your Medicine: Dietary Changes Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease which discusses dietary choices and arthritis.
“Eating foods which increase inflammation provide a systemic response within individuals causing pain within the joints of the body,” says Dr. Colbert. “If changes are not made, damage will eventually occur within the joints including the knees, fingers, hips, and spine.”
“Inflammatory foods within the diet should be identified as soon as possible and removed for a period of time,” says Dr. Colbert. “This will allow the body to ‘cool down’ and become less inflamed in response to these specific foods. Foods which usually cause inflammation within the body can then be added back into the diet in small amounts during specified intervals. In other words, eating these inflammation causing foods on a regular basis will once again create a chaotic response within the body. So, it is necessary to limit the body’s exposure to them for the best results in fighting symptoms.”
“Many patients who have suffered from arthritis who make needed changes in the diet and follow the modified Mediterranean Diet are known to be symptom free, living much happier lives,” says Dr. Colbert. “Celebrating life with friends and family is much more enjoyable without joint pain.” Dr. Colbert’s book Let Food Be Your Medicine provides more details in how to follow this specifically modified diet to reduce and eliminate the symptoms of arthritis.
Can arthritis symptoms be reversed entirely through diet? “Inflammation and pain in the joints is a warning sign within the body,” says Dr. Colbert. “Oftentimes, the inflammation is caused by foods eaten on a regular basis . If the warning signs are ignored, then the disease will progress. Once damage is created within the joints by continually eating inflammation causing foods, this damage cannot be “reversed” except through divine healing of the body through faith. By making changes in the diet as soon as symptoms start appearing, one can in a sense “reverse” the symptoms of arthritis. Removing specific foods often leads to living a symptom free life for the individual.”
Food sensitivities vary from person to person but the following foods create the most challenges with inflammation:
* Dairy products including milk, cheese, ice cream, yogurt, and sour cream
* Fried foods
* Processed meats including lunch meats, hot dogs, bacon, so on
* Red meats, pork, and shellfish
* Nightshades including tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, peppers, and paprika
* Polyunsaturated fats which include corn oil, cottonseed oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil
* Trans fats which include margarine, shortening, so on
* Corn products and wheat products
Other foods can also add “fuel” to the fire for an individual who is suffering from auto-immune disease which often leads to problems with inflammation. These foods include:
* Foods which contain gluten (barley, rye, wheat)
* Foods which contain gluten-free grains including corn
* Foods containing GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) including soy, canola, beet sugar, papaya, and alfalfa
“A number of natural foods can be added to the diet to help calm inflammation in the body,” says Dr. Colbert. “One can add a variety of berries including blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries. Other food items which can be added to the diet include broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, kale, and spinach. A variety of healthy nuts and seeds include flaxseeds, chia seeds, salba seeds, walnuts, almonds, and macadamia nuts. Individuals are also encouraged to add healthy fats to the diet including avocados and small amounts of olive oils. Wild salmon and wild sardines can also be incorporated. Ginger and turmeric are also known to help with inflammation in the body. Green tea is also known to add many health benefits for the body. Vitamin D3 is needed by the body to support good bone health. The vitamin helps increase the body’s efficiency in absorbing needed calcium. The supplement also supports great colon health, breast health, and prostate health.”
Arthritis sufferers should consider aligning a qualified physical therapist. “Look for a physical therapist who has at least 10,000 hours of manual therapy experience,” says Richard Sedillo, Certified Orthopedic Manual Therapist at the Arizona Manual Therapy Centers. “This invaluable expertise enables the practitioner to accurately evaluate and diagnosis the cause of the chronic problem. The assessment includes an evaluation of the patient’s range of motion, flexibility, and limitations.”
“People with chronic pain should focus on stretching problem areas as flexibility is key to muscle function,” adds Sedillo. “Chronic pain sufferers should stay within the middle range of their available range of motion and focus mainly on non-weight baring activities such as the bike and the upper body arm bike. Until the pain is identified and addressed, most chronic pain sufferers should avoid the treadmill and elliptical.”
Many arthritis patients report that the Salonpas® Arthritis Pain Patch, the first and only FDA-approved OTC topical pain patch for the temporary relief of mild to moderate muscles and joints aches and pains associated with arthritis, helps ease their pain and enables them to continue to exercise.