Arthritis pain: Do's and don'ts

Will physical activity reduce or increase your arthritis pain? Get tips on exercise and other common concerns when coping with arthritis symptoms and arthritis pain.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Arthritis is a leading cause of pain and disability worldwide. You can find plenty of advice about easing the pain of arthritis and other conditions with exercise, medication and stress reduction. How do you know what will work best for you?

Here are some do's and don'ts to help you figure it out.

Basics

Whatever your condition, it will be easier to stay ahead of your pain if you:

  • Talk to your doctor about your symptoms, arthritis related or not. Sometimes seemingly unrelated problems are, in fact, connected.
  • Give your doctor complete information about your medical conditions and medications, including over-the-counter medications and supplements.
  • Ask your doctor for a clear definition of the type of arthritis you have.
  • Find out whether any of your joints are already damaged.

Everyday routines

Do some gentle exercise in the evening; you'll feel less stiff in the morning. When you're sitting still, either watching TV, reading or working at your desk, be sure to:

  • Adjust your position frequently.
  • Periodically tilt your neck from side to side, change the position of your hands, and bend and stretch your legs.
  • Pace yourself. Take breaks so that you don't overuse a single joint and cause more pain.
  • Stand and walk around every half-hour or so.

In addition, lifestyle changes are important for easing pain.

  • Manage weight. Being overweight can increase complications of arthritis and contribute to arthritis pain. Making incremental, permanent lifestyle changes resulting in gradual weight loss is often the most effective method of weight management.
  • Quit smoking. Smoking causes stress on connective tissues, which leads to more arthritis pain.
Jul. 23, 2014 See more In-depth