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Nine Ways to Relieve Joint Stress

It happens to all of us: joint pain from a lifetime of lifting, bending and normal wear and tear.// Beyond medication, there are steps you can take to relieve stress while going about your daily activities. Here’s what you can do, from a world leader in arthritis care.

If you’ve lived long enough, inflammation in the ankle, knee, hip, shoulder, elbow and wrist can cause pain, swelling and limited motion. If you have joint pain or suffer from arthritis, no doubt you’ve already been prescribed medication by your doctor to reduce these symptoms. But there’s a lot you can do yourself—apart from taking your medication—to lessen joint pain. Following are some time-proven steps from a newsletter called Arthritis Advisor, brought to you by Cleveland Clinic.

1.Control your weight. Obesity puts extra stress on weight-bearing joints, such as the back, hips, knees and feet.

2. Be aware of body position, using good posture to protect your back and the joints of your legs and feet. Whenever possible, sit down to perform a job instead of standing. Change position often, since staying in one position for an extended period tends to increase stiffness and pain.

3. Conserve energy by allowing for rest periods during the workday and while performing any activity.

4. Respect pain. It’s your body’s way of telling you something is wrong. Don’t involve yourself in an activity that puts strain on joints that are already painful or stiff.

5. Use care when getting in and out of a car, chair, or tub, as well as for climbing, lifting, carrying, pulling, or pushing objects. Think before you strain. Tip: Try to always sit in the highest chair in the room, and look for chairs with armrests to make it easier to get up.

6. Use your strongest joints and muscles to reduce the stress on your smaller joints. For example, carry a purse, handbag, or briefcase by its shoulder strap rather than by its handle.

7. Distr ibute pressure to minimize stress on any single joint. Lift dishes with both of your palms rather than with your fingers, and carry heavy loads in your arms instead of with your hands.

8. Avoid tight gripping, pinching, squeezing and twisting if your hands are affected by arthritis. Ways to accomplish the same tasks with alternate methods or tools can usually be found.

9. Investigate assistive devices. Many of these self-help products—bath stools, grippers, reachers, grab bars—have been developed to make every-day activities easier and less stressful on your joints and muscles. Your doctor or physical therapist can suggest devices that will be helpful for tasks you may find difficult at home or at work.

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