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Anyone who thinks arthritis affects only little old ladies who wear bifocals and sensible shoes, raise your hand if you can. Can't lift your hand without flinching? You have lots of company. About 40 million of us have some form of arthritis, and the pain of this condition can range from conditional twinges to bona fide aches. More women develop the condition than men. Arthritis means joint inflammation. It is an umbrella term for more than 100 different disorders.
Generally speaking, there are two kinds of arthritis, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis, the type that most people get, causes pain, swelling, and limited movement in joints and connective tissue. Rheumatoid arthritis, a more serious form of the disease, is caused by a breakdown in the body's immune system. There is no cure for arthritis, at least not yet. However, here are some tips that you can consider to adopt to relieve arthritis pain.
1. Take A Wax Dip
If your hands or feet hurt, try a paraffin dip. Buy a paraffin bath at a medical supply store. This device heats the wax and keeps it at a therapeutic temperature. The wax adheres to your skin and stays warm for some time. When the wax cools, you peel it off and return it to the container for reuse.
2. Anoint The Ache With Ointment
Rub aching joints with an arthritis ointment that contains capsaicin, the ingredient that gives chilli peppers their heat. There is evidence that capsaicin is helpful. You may also try Tiger Balm, a traditional Chinese salve sold in health food stores. Rub it on the affected area before you go to sleep.
3. Give Arthritis The Cold Treatment
Wrap an ice pack in a towel and apply it to the painful joint for no longer than 20 minutes at a time. If you do not have an ice pack, use a bag of frozen peas. Remove the ice for 10 to 20 minutes between applications.
4. Blanket Sore Muscles With Heat
While heat should not be applied to inflamed joints, it can soothe achy muscles and overall stiffness. Apply heat in the form of hot-water bottle every 2 to 3 hours. Moist heat is especially soothing first thing in the morning if you are stiff.
5. Flex, Flex, Flex
Put a painful joint through its full range of motion two or three times a day. Flex the joint as far as you can in one direction, then in the other. When you feel discomfort, try to move the joint farther. If you feel pain, stop.
6. Try To Stay Active
Regular exercise can help keep your joints flexible and your muscles strong. Try working out in a warm pool, if possible. The buoyancy of the water reduces the impact on your joints. Check with your local Y for an Arthritis Foundation/YMCA aquatic program. Or ask your doctor to recommend an exercise routine that is right for you.
7. Limber Up With Yoga
Tight, tense muscles can cause your wear and tear on the joints. A gentle regimen of yoga can help keep the muscles supple and flexible. If you are just getting started, consult a physical therapist or massage therapist who has been trained in yoga. Or look in the Yellow Pages under "Yoga Instruction."