(BPT) - The sun rises, you flutter your eyes open and take a deep breath. It's time to start the day, but before you even get out of bed, you know it's going to be a tough one. For the more than 30 million Americans with osteoarthritis, waking up with soreness or stiffness in the joints can make mornings particularly difficult.
“After a night of inactivity due to sleep, people with osteoarthritis may find that their joints tend to feel stiff when they wake up,” explained rheumatologist Dr. Micah Yu. “While mornings can be difficult, they also can be an opportunity to start your morning routine, soothe aches and pains and set yourself up for a productive day.”
According to a recent study conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Voltaren, 59% of Americans with osteoarthritis said their arthritis pain makes it difficult to get out of bed in the morning, and 79% said it negatively affects them three or more days a week. September is Pain Awareness Month, and Dr. Yu wants to help people who experience arthritis symptoms feel their best. Here are his recommendations for a pain-relieving morning routine:
Wake up well
While still in bed, do a body scan and note any areas of pain. Start at the top of your head and mentally scan down for tension and stiffness. Doing gentle stretches in bed can help awaken the mind and body. For example, open and close your jaw, turn your head slowly from side to side and circle your wrists. For persistent arthritis pain, some people find using a heated blanket or heated mattress pad for 10 to 20 minutes in the morning to be soothing.
Take a warm shower
Heat and moisture work together to effectively soothe arthritis pain, so start your day with a shower. Keep the water warm to help loosen muscles and joints, but not too hot since it may irritate the skin. Personal trainer and fitness expert Pete McCall suggests doing stretches while the warm water soothes muscles, such as shoulder rolls and head tilts. Avoid any stretches that require balancing and use a shower chair or hand grips to steady yourself if necessary.
An effective option for treating arthritis is Voltaren Arthritis Pain Gel, the first prescription-strength, over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory gel. It targets arthritis pain directly at the source to provide powerful relief. Unlike most other over-the-counter topicals, Voltaren Gel treats arthritis joint pain and doesn’t just mask it. Voltaren Gel treats joint pain by delivering medicine directly at the source. Apply Voltaren Gel in the morning and a total of four times per day to help relieve arthritis pain all day long. Voltaren Gel is available at CVS stores nationwide.
A good breakfast fuels the body with satisfying nutrients. Joints need to stay lubricated, so start with a glass of water or sip on some green tea. Opt for a breakfast that features foods that fight inflammation and boost the immune system, such as cherries, oranges, broccoli, low-fat dairy products and whole grains like oatmeal.
Motion is like lotion for your muscles and joints, and light exercise in the morning can help reduce joint pain and kickstart the day. This could be taking a virtual yoga class or taking a walk through your neighborhood. Exercising increases blood flow, strengthens muscles and helps you maintain a healthy weight — all things that help with arthritis pain. If you're not sure which exercises are appropriate for you, speak with your doctor. Even small amounts of movement matter, so start with just 5 or 10 minutes of exercise.
“Although there is no cure for arthritis, there are things you can do to help reduce pain in your joints,” says Yu. “The morning is the optimal time to take steps that help you feel your best all day long.”