I recently discovered that I have arthritis. Specifically, arthritis in my knee. But I’ve been wondering…what does that really mean? Why does arthritis happen? What can I do to relieve the pain?
I headed to The Christ Hospital Health Network to sit down with Jennifer Chung, MD
, to get some answers. Dr. Chung is a Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation (PM&R), which means that she treats the whole body, not just your injury or illness, and uses nonsurgical and holistic treatments that address whatever issues you're having, to reduce pain and improve your mobility.
The first thing I wanted to know was…what am I doing that’s wrong? What am I doing that’s making my arthritis more inflamed? Dr. Chung said, “High impact exercise: I tell people high impact exercise is probably not the exercise activity that you want to do. That would include running and jumping. So, low impact exercises are definitely what I recommend. Swimming, anything in the water, since it’s really gentle on the joints and muscles. Stationary bike, yoga, pilates, those kinds of things.”
Okay, so now I know how to not make my arthritis angry, but does arthritis ever go away? Dr. Chung said, “Most arthritis does not go away. With the majority of arthritis that people have, especially in the older population, there’s no way to actually get rid of it. The key is managing the symptoms and hoping to prevent the progression of the arthritis.”
So, what lifestyle changes can we make to help manage our arthritis, since we know it's not going to go away? Dr. Chung explained, “Weight is a big factor in arthritis; arthritis tends to flare if somebody puts on weight because that’s just extra stress on the joints. So, making sure your weight is under control and that you’re at a healthy weight helps. There are more and more studies that show diet can promote your inflammation. Essentially, the foods that we recommend that you avoid are processed foods, refined sugars, fried foods, etc. My motto is basically, if you can’t grow it, don’t eat it. Lean protein, vegetables, those kinds of things should make up most of your diet. The less inflamed you are, the less pain you'll have.”
Sometimes my arthritis just aches, and if you have arthritis, you know exactly what I mean! How can I relieve some pain immediately? Dr. Chung said, “Heat to control some of the pain in the joints, ice after exercise to help control some of the swelling. Acupuncture is a really good idea as well to help with some of the pain.”
If you want to learn more about other treatment options, and the different kinds of arthritis, please watch the video above. In the meantime, I'm off to put an ice pack on my knee and eating some veggies after my low-impact exercise!
Check out this blog if you're wondering if your joint pain is arthritis, so you can identify the signs. Looking for nonsurgical or holistic treatment options for arthritis or other joint pain? Learn more about how our PM&R experts (like Dr. Chung!) can help!