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Living with Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is an ongoing problem. But it doesn’t have to keep you from leading an active life. You can help control symptoms by exercising and watching your weight. Using special tools also helps make life easier. Be sure to see your doctor as requested for checkups and lab work.

Two women in pool doing water exercises.

Make Exercise Part of Your Life

Gentle exercise can help lessen your pain. Keep the following in mind when you work out:

  • Choose exercises that improve joint motion and make your muscles stronger. Your doctor or a physical therapist may suggest a few.

  • Try low-impact sports, such as walking, biking, or doing exercises in a warm pool.

  • Don’t push yourself too hard at first. Slowly build up your endurance over time.

  • When pain and stiffness increase, cut back on your workout.

Watch Your Weight

If you weigh more than you should, your weight-bearing joints are under extra pressure. This makes your symptoms worse. To reduce pain and stiffness, try shedding a few of those extra pounds. The tips below may help:

  • Start a weight-loss program with the help of your doctor.

  • Ask your friends and family for support.

  • Join a weight-loss group.

Use Special Tools

Even simple tasks can be hard to do when your joints hurt. The special tools and aids listed here can make things easier by reducing strain and protecting your joints. Ask your health care provider where to find these and other helpful tools:

  • Long-handled reachers or grabbers

  • Jar openers and button threaders

  • Splints for your wrists or other joints

  • Large grips for pencils, garden tools, and other hand-held objects

Online Medical Reviewer: Barrus, Bryan, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Mitchell, Bryan Sean, MD
Last Review Date: 2/27/2012
© 2000-2014 Krames StayWell, 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.