The best way to manage arthritis – during a pandemic or not – is to stay active. Sometimes people are worried that if they’re active, they’ll wear out their joints more quickly. But in fact, the opposite can also be true.
If you’re used to going to a gym or chasing your grandchildren, you may find it harder to rebuild physical activity into your days during these unprecedented times. The social distancing required during COVID-19 is keeping many families apart and you may find it’s contributing to a lack of motivation to take care of yourself. We encourage you to remain active so once we’re through this, you can pick up where you left off and enjoy being physically active together without hesitation.
Another key to managing arthritis is eating healthy – lots of fruit, vegetables and whole grains, for example. A bonus to eating healthier is that it may help you lose or better maintain a healthy weight, and who doesn’t want to lose weight? Weight loss is a very important tool to manage arthritis because carrying extra weight increases the pressure on your joints.
One of the best recommendations I can make to help with managing the pain of arthritis is to keep to a daily routine, especially an exercise routine. You gain a psychological benefit to having your day planned out, exercising at the same time, scheduling things you look forward to. Which leads to the last point…
Having things to look forward to is central to managing arthritis. People generally don’t notice or can tolerate pain when they’re doing something they love and enjoy. So, in addition to keeping to your routine, be sure to include activities that are fun, fulfilling and make you happy.
Managing arthritis during this time isn’t so different than managing other chronic conditions – or even doing the things we all need to stay healthy, have energy and feel optimistic about life. We all benefit from being active, making nutritious food choices and sticking to a routine. Always remember though to be sure to make time for fun and enjoyable activities. Stay healthy and safe in this time and always find the joy in life.
Nicholas DeFauw, DO, has advanced training in family medicine and a fellowship in sports medicine. He has specialized training in ultrasound guided procedures to treat chronic tendinopathy and relieve arthritis pain.