Your joints take a lot of punishment. Even when you’re completely healthy, daily activity and exercise put strain on them. But when you have arthritis, your joints become cranky and creaky, susceptible to flare-ups. Here are thirteen simple ways to get the best from your joints while minimising pain and discomfort.

Your joints are wondrous, complex configurations of sinew, bone, cartilage and fluid – tough but fragile, flexible but limited. You need to keep them moving or they’ll seize up. You need to rest them or they’ll swell. So what are your options?

    1. Start with heat, end with cold: many people find that they can have an enjoyable and beneficial workout by combining warm and cold compresses to arthritic joints;

    1. Start slowly: Whether you’re going for a walk or pushing weights, start gently. If your exercise involves walking the dog and it’s an energetic hound, let it run around and burn off some energy first;

    1. Choose appropriate exercise: you might enjoy playing rugby, but you need to face up the fact that it’s bad for your joints. Try range-of-motion exercises such as swimming, t’ai chi, yoga, or even ballroom dancing;

    1. Stick to your routine: You should do range-of-motion exercises every day, or every other day at the most. You can vary their intensity, depending on how much pain you have, but you should make a point of moving the joints to keep them flexible;

    1. Wear a brace: lightweight casts and braces are very effective at restricting the movement of joints. Some people feel a little self-conscious about wearing them, but they work;

    1. Use a supplement: There are a range of natural supplements which can help you maintain joint health for years to come. A calcium supplement is critical for those that do not have high calcium intake to ensure your bones and joints stay strong and well formed. Omega-3 supplements can help reduce inflammation, giving greater joint mobility and less joint pain. Try taking krill oil as an omega-3 supplement for stiff joints. A supplement that combines glucosamine and chondroitin is also a popular way to improve joint health. Finally, taking methylsulfonylmethan (MSM) for joints. Is all of this too much? Fear not - there are supplements that combine 2 or more of the ingredients mentioned to make it easier to get supplement support.

    1. Invest in gadgets: Replace your fancy tap handles with handles. Get fat foam sleeves to fit over your slender pens and pencils;

    1. Bury your dignity: you might think you look like a crock when you walk with a cane. You don’t. You look dignified and distinguished. And it’ll ease the load on your knees;

    1. Don’t rule out surgery: Having a knee or hip replacement might seem like a huge event, but these procedures are now refined and successful. People who’ve had them done find that they have great benefits;

    1. Lose weight: Even a few extra kilograms will add to the strain on your joints. You needn’t be a rail-thin, but keeping your weight down or losing weight can significantly add to the mileage you’ll get out of your joints;

    1. Know when to get help: Familiarise yourself with the symptoms. Know when to see a doctor, such as when your pain is accompanied by a fever, or if the pain in say, a wrist is accompanied by numbness or tingling in the fingers.

    1. Listen to your body: If a joint becomes inflamed, ease off until the inflammation subsides. You can’t “work though” the pain of an inflamed joint;

    1. Harness technology: qualified professionals employ a dazzling variety of pain relief techniques. Be open to suggestion, even if you haven’t tried a technique before, whether it’s ultrasound, acupuncture, TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation), or biofeedback



Image via Thinkstock