Feature Articles - Aging
Medication is not the only option for treating arthritis
Robert Thomas, Information Specialist, Cooperative Media Group, University of Missouri Extension
May is National Arthritis Month — a time when individuals and their families should be aware of misconceptions about the disease, said Karen Funkenbusch, director of the University of Missouri AgrAbility program.
Arthritis is an inflammation of the joint that causes pain, stiffness and swelling. The disease, which affects one in three American adults, is the second leading cause of disability.
Funkenbusch said many people believe the only way to control the pain is through the use of drugs.
While most people with arthritis will require at least some medication, other measures can provide pain relief. Applying heat to an arthritic joint before exercise can relieve pain and stiffness and reduce swelling, she said.
Massage and relaxation techniques such as meditation also may relieve symptoms.
“Don’t give up exercise. Inactivity only breeds stiffness and degeneration,” Funkenbush said. “Check with your doctor first, and develop a fitness program that includes aerobic activity, stretching exercises and some moderate strength training to build muscles that support joints.”
Those affected must learn to make modifications to cope with the life-altering disease, but they should not have to do it alone, Funkenbusch said.
Family can be a big help. For example, family members could participate in activities, such as exercise, walking or other outdoor activities, with the affected individual.
“Encouragement and support from family members is very important,” she said.
Karen Funkenbusch, 573-884-1268
Last update: Tuesday, May 24, 2016