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7 Healthy Lifestyle Habits That Help Slow the Progression of Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a progressive disease that can’t be cured. As the joint degeneration advances, your pain gradually increases, and your mobility decreases.

However, you can slow the joint damage by seeking medical care and making lifestyle changes.

Our Florida Pain Medicine team works with many patients struggling with osteoarthritis, and we can’t over-emphasize the critical role of lifestyle changes.

As part of our arthritis management services, we offer multifaceted care designed to slow disease progression and improve your quality of life, including lifestyle adjustments, advanced interventional treatments, and regenerative medicine.

Here, we list seven lifestyle steps you can take to ease osteoarthritis pain and slow joint deterioration:

1. Schedule physical therapy

Physical therapy isn’t a lifestyle modification, but we’re putting it first because it lays the groundwork for your osteoarthritis life plan.

Moving the joint is essential. Movement helps maintain flexibility and mobility in an arthritic joint. It also boosts circulation (which promotes healing), reduces inflammation, and slows joint deterioration.

It’s important to begin with physical therapy to learn gentle exercises that promote healthy joints without adding stress. Your physical therapist will also create an exercise plan to follow at home.

2. Engage in regular exercise

Exercise slows joint damage and relieves your pain by:

Exercise is non-negotiable, but you must be careful not to overdo it and stress your joints. (That’s why we suggest starting with physical therapy.)

We also recommend low-impact exercises like walking and water aerobics. The water’s buoyancy allows you to exercise while reducing the pressure on your joints.

If joint pain prevents you from exercising, contact us for treatments that safely and effectively ease the pain.

3. Maintain a healthy weight

Your body weight impacts osteoarthritis so much that losing weight may single-handedly slow disease progression.

Carrying extra weight stresses the joint and accelerates tissue degeneration. For example, every 10 pounds you gain puts 30-60 pounds of pressure on your knees.

If you need to lose weight, don’t use a quick-loss or fad diet. Instead, aim to lose at a slow, steady pace and create a sustainable plan that includes exercise and a meal plan you can follow for the long run.

4. Follow an anti-inflammatory meal plan 

Anti-inflammatory diets, like the DASH eating plan and Mediterranean diet (called the ultimate arthritis diet by the Arthritis Foundation), are healthy and well-balanced. They ease joint pain and help slow joint degeneration.

These diets revolve around nutrient-rich foods that reduce inflammation, such as fish, vegetables, nuts, beans, whole grains, and unsaturated fats. They also prevent high blood sugar, which promotes joint degeneration.

5. Learn to relax

Everyone deals with stress, and unfortunately, stress makes you more sensitive to pain, triggers inflammation, and tightens your muscles, adding to the pressure on an arthritic joint and accelerating degeneration.

The good news is that you can reduce stress and ease joint pain at the same time with these activities:

Mind-body activities lower your stress and strengthen muscles, releasing the strain on your joints.

6. Get enough sleep

It’s hard to sleep when your joints ache. Much like stress, the lack of sleep worsens your pain and may lead to faster disease progression.

Adjusting your bedtime routine may help. For example, you could take a warm bath, avoid alcohol in the evening, and turn off all electronics and lights—activities that help your brain release the sleep hormone melatonin.

If you still struggle to get a good night’s sleep, we can help with treatments that ease the pain.

7. Protect your mental health

The pain and stiffness of osteoarthritis take a toll on your mental and emotional well-being. People with osteoarthritis often develop depression and anxiety. 

Mental health challenges increase your sensitivity to pain and stop you from following a healthy lifestyle. As a result, the joint damage accelerates.

Don’t hesitate to see a therapist if you need help with depression, anxiety, or any emotional challenge.

Our Florida Pain Medicine team is here to help you manage osteoarthritis. You can schedule an appointment through online booking or by calling the nearest office.

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