One in five Canadians of all ages – 20 per cent of the population – is affected by some form of arthritis, a condition often causing pain, swelling and/or stiffness in the joints or other areas of the body.
Here are Dr. Gantayet-Mathur’s tips to help manage arthritis:
Stay mobile and engage in joint-friendly physical activity.
Being in the same position for extended periods of time can cause joints to stiffen, and can increase pain associated with arthritis. To help reduce morning stiffness, start the day with a gentle range of motion exercises and a warm shower. Engage in a mix of strengthening, flexibility and endurance exercises, and joint-friendly activities such as brisk walking, swimming, water aerobics, cycling, dancing, Tai Chi or light gardening.
Eat to reduce inflammation.
Avoid foods that contribute to inflammation, like sugary treats and processed foods. Instead, fill your diet with anti-inflammatory foods high in vitamins A, C, D and E, and include oily fish or other foods high in omega-3 such as extra virgin olive oil, broccoli and unsalted nuts.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Maintain a balanced diet, regular exercise and proper sleep habits. For individuals who are overweight, losing weight can take pressure off the joints, especially the knees and hips. Sleep is your body’s time to recover and repair, so maintain a regular sleep routine and wind down before bedtime to promote a night of good quality, restorative sleep. Quit smoking or vaping as this can worsen certain types of arthritis.
Keep arthritis pain under control.
Try heat and/or ice for joint pain. Supportive devices such as splints, braces, orthotics, canes and walkers can take pressure off weight-bearing joints. Other methods such as massage therapy and acupuncture can also be helpful.
Talk to your doctor.
Not all arthritis is the same, and symptoms can vary depending on the type of arthritis. Talk to your doctor about your unique symptoms and discuss treatment options that are most suitable for you. Depending on your type of arthritis, treatment can range from pain management to medications treating the underlying disease and, in some advanced cases, joint replacement surgery.
Dr. Arpita Gantayet-Mathur, MD, MASc, FRCPC, is a rheumatologist at William Osler Health System’s (Osler) Brampton Civic Hospital. After completing her Doctor of Medicine at the University of Toronto, Dr. Gantayet completed an Internal Medicine Residency at the University of Alberta, and a Rheumatology Fellowship at Western University.