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October 2010
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Stop Creaks and Cracks in their Tracks
Tips for joint pain and arthritis relief.

Whether you have a wobbly knee or arthritis, it’s no secret that joint pain can take a toll on your life. Prescriptions from your doctor may offer hope, but sometimes you need a little extra help. Fortunately, there are easy, at-home ways to ease the ache and annoyance of joint problems. Try these tips and see what works for you:

1.   Cool down or heat up: Depending on the location and type of joint pain, temperature therapy may offer you relief. If inflammation has your body throbbing, then grab an ice pack – the cold will reduce swelling and keep irritation to a minimum. Even just cold water can offer welcome help. On the other hand, heat aids your joints by relaxing the muscles around them. Kick back in a sauna or steam room and enjoy a truly indulgent treat for your body. At home, step into a hot shower or tub – it’s often an effective remedy for aches and pains.

2.   Control your weight: Excess weight will only add unnecessary stress on your joints. Work on trimming down to your ideal weight using a body mass index (BMI) calculator and, with your doctor’s approval, some good old-fashioned exercise. When you decide to hit the gym, however, choose low-impact routines. Get your heart pumping with cardio – but make sure you always have one foot on the ground. Walking instead of jogging, for example, will keep your joints happy. Try your hand at cross-country skiing, or simply hit the gym’s elliptical machines for a pain-free workout with plenty of health benefits.

3.   Feed your body right: There are a bevy of vitamins that can help keep your joints in check. Researchers at Boston University Medical Center found that arthritis sufferers who had a high vitamin C intake were three times less likely to strain joints than those with low C levels. Vitamin C also aids the body in producing collagen, which in turn helps form cartilage and bone; stock up on broccoli, cantaloupe and oranges for a real boost.

B vitamins have been shown to reduce joint inflammation while calcium is vital for bone health, especially in women over 45 years old. Need some vitamin D to help protect your bones? Dig into salmon or tuna for dinner, followed by a dairy treat for dessert. Nut-lovers benefit from the vitamin E in almonds and sunflowers seeds, which is said to relieve leg cramps and osteoarthritis pain.

Be sure to talk to your doctor about the right plan of attack against joint pain. Your ticket to relief may require a combination of strategies, as well as a trial-and-error attitude. Regardless, there are many sources of support from community support groups to online blogs to university and hospital research centers. Get involved and become informed – the road to recovery may be right around the corner.

For more tips on exercising toward better joint health, visit www.mayoclinic.com/health/arthritis/AR00009

For information and support regarding arthritis, check out the Arthritis Foundation at www.arthritis.org.

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