Health and Lifestyle Choices

Now that you know more about arthritis, what do you do? There are some things you control. Some may seem small but remember you are in control of these decisions. Take control and make some choices in these areas.

Shed the Surplus
Yes, that little "four letter word", DIET. But we are talking about more than just losing weight. Your "diet" is everything that goes in your mouth. If you do need to lose weight, your physician is a great place to start. Most people reading this will know that while there is no magic bullet to losing weight, there are some standards that apply to almost everyone. Smaller portions, several smaller meals throughout the day compared to three large meals, increasing your water intake and increasing your activity level are a few basics principals to remember. Make smart choices in your diet, regardless of whether or not you need to lose weight. Skip the fast food when you can. If you have no option but fast food, choose a salad. If the primary color of your diet is "steak brown," you might want to add a little color to the plate. Fresh oranges, orange juice and many other fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants and offer more for your joints than that ribeye steak. Make snacking healthier and easier. We are a culture of convenience. Those french fries and potato chips are easier to pass up if you already have celery or carrot sticks cut up and waiting in the fridge. Switch to caffeine free sodas, coffee or tea. Caffeine is an appetite stimulant. Once you cut it out, you probably will never miss it.

Work Smarter, not Harder
If you use a computer at work or home, make sure your monitor is 18 to 24 inches away from your face with the top 1/3 of the monitor at eye level. This will ease eye and neck strain. Limit your sitting time. Sitting loads more forces into the discs of your spine than any other position. Standing all day is not good either. Get up and move around every 45 minutes or so. Stretch and loosen up. Our bodies weren't designed to sit in a cubicle 8 hours a day. Avoid over doing it with lifting by using things to make your job easier like carts, dollies and a helper.

Get a professional massage. It's not just a luxury and can be very beneficial. Soak in a nice warm bath. Moist heat in moderation can be great for pain and stiffness, but don't sleep on a heating pad. Try a warm compress or microwavable heat pack for 20 minutes, but then remove it for at least an hour. Ice therapy can be great for inflammation, swelling, pain and edema. Don't run out and waste money on ice packs. You can make them yourself in a one-gallon freezer bag. Put in two parts water and one part rubbing alcohol and toss it in the freezer. Make sure you put a thin barrier such as a towel between your skin and the ice pack. This homemade ice pack will get cold enough to help, without freezing solid. You can wrap it around knees, elbows and other sore places. An even easier option is a bag of frozen peas. Just don't forget that barrier between you and the cold. Same rule as the heat, 20 minutes on and then skip an hour.