All posts by Arthritis Foundation

goal setting workouts

Use Goal Setting to Motivate Your Arthritis Workout

You might exercise to improve function, gain strength or slim down. Whatever your reason, “setting a goal can give you focus, confidence and motivation,” says Hannah J. Bennett, a physical therapist with Baylor Scott & White Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation in Round Rock, Texas.

But how can you tell if your workouts are working? The key is making realistic and specific milestones. “Check your progress regularly,” says Bennett. Seeing results can provide motivation – or signal that it’s time to switch things up. Here are four common fitness goals and how to track them.

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aromatherapy herb garden

Try Aromatherapy for Pain Relief

Because your sense of smell is linked to the areas of the brain where emotion and memories are processed, you can use scents and fragrant plants to give yourself an emotional boost, relieve pain, and conjure up pleasant memories.

“Aromatherapy is effective because it works directly on the amygdala, the brain’s emotional center,” says Mehmet Oz, MD, director of integrative medicine center at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City. “This has important consequences because the thinking part of the brain can’t inhibit the effects of the scent, meaning you feel them instantaneously.” Of the many uses of aromatherapy, pain relief is only one; anxiety reduction and rejuvenation are other common objectives.

“Aromas can heal by enhancing our memory and changing emotions that affect the body’s stress response,” says Esther Sternberg, MD, a rheumatologist and author of Healing Spaces. “If you can identify a fragrance that reminds you of a peaceful, pleasant place and puts you in the mood to say, meditate, it can have a very positive effect.”

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arthritis severity factors

What Determines How Severe Your Arthritis May Become?

A diagnosis of inflammatory arthritis can leave you wondering what you’re in for: Will you face along, bumpy road with your disease, or will it respond well to minimal treatment? Although there is no crystal ball, research into different forms of inflammatory arthritis is identifying factors that predict the likelihood of more or less severe disease.

Knowing these factors enables your doctor to target treatment, says David Pisetsky, MD, PhD, professor of medicine and immunology at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina. “With evidence of a worse prognosis, most rheumatologists will monitor patients more closely, try to get disease control more rapidly and adjust medications to achieve a [disease] activity score as low as possible,” he says. Plus, steps to taper treatment in those who achieve remission “would be more cautious and gradual,” he adds.

Here are prognostic factors your doctor may consider. Continue reading What Determines How Severe Your Arthritis May Become?

fiber for your arthritis diet

Fiber Up Your Arthritis Diet

Fiber packs a big punch when it comes to your health. Research shows it helps lower cholesterol levels, control blood sugar levels and aid in weight loss, which can ease pressure on joints. Scientists also have discovered that nutrients in dietary fiber help promote beneficial gut bacteria, which may reduce inflammation. And new research found that eating a high-fiber diet is linked with a lower risk for knee osteoarthritis and pain.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends about 30 grams of dietary fiber a day for men and 25 grams for women – much more than the 18 and 15 grams, respectively, that Americans typically consume. The good news is that adding just one fruit, vegetable or whole grain to every meal or snack can help.

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arthritis workout moves on the go

Arthritis Workout Moves On-the-Go

Whether by plane, train or car, travel can be a pain – literally. Especially if you have inflammatory arthritis or osteoarthritis. Less oxygen and nutrients reach your joints, which contributes to pain and stiffness. “Sitting for long stretches slows your circulation,” says Lisa M. Higginbotham, an occupational therapist and clinical rehab manager at a Cleveland Clinic hospital in Ohio.

Sluggish circulation also raises the risk for swelling and potentially dangerous blood clots, she adds. Moving at least every hour keeps joints mobile. Plus, “contracting your muscles pumps blood back to the heart,” says Eric Robertson, PT, director of Kaiser Permanente Northern California Graduate Physical Therapy Education. These moves done while seated can also help:

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