Senior Living Q & A

September 24, 2009

Q. I’m wondering what I can do to help my arthritis. I worry about taking pain pills all the time.I’m wondering what I can do to help my arthritis. I worry about taking pain pills all the time.

— Joe, La Cañada ?

A. You are very wise to take a proactive approach to your arthritis. The ideas here are simple, one-time actions. Next week I’ll give you first steps toward longer-term goals. All can directly or indirectly improve your health, outlook or pain level, and can generally make life with arthritis a little easier.

Tune in

Listening to your favorite music can lighten your mood and may even help you to forget your pain — at least for a little while. Make a tape of your favorite upbeat tunes and listen to it when you need a lift.


Pick, pour or peel

If you are looking for a tasty, healthy treat, reach for an orange — or a tall glass of orange juice. Why? Recent research has shown the importance of vitamin C and other antioxidants in reducing the risk of osteoarthritis and its progression.

Have a good laugh

Read a book of jokes, rent a funny movie or watch your favorite sit-com or stand-up comedian. Laughing — even when you feel like crying from agony — can relax muscles, relieve pain and even boost your immune system.

Play it safe in the sun

Protect yourself when you go out into the sun — wear sunglasses, a hat and sunscreen. Some forms of arthritis, as well as certain medications, can leave you more vulnerable to the sun’s harmful rays.

Take a hike

Choose your favorite spots (indoors and out) and make plans to walk them at least once a week. Walking is the ideal exercise for most people with arthritis. It burns calories, strengthens muscles and builds denser bones — all without jarring fragile joints.

Sit, soak and soothe

A warm bath before bed can relieve muscle tension, ease aching joints and help you get a good night’s sleep.

Treat your muscles

Find a certified massage therapist and treat yourself to a good rub down. The benefits vary from person to person but may include decreased pain and increased circulation, energy and flexibility. And besides, it just feels good.

Fess up

Be sure to tell your doctor about the medications you’re taking, both prescription and over the counter. Don’t forget to mention any nutritional supplements you’re taking, too. All medications — even natural ones — have the potential to cause side effects or to react adversely with each other.

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