It’s an understandable connection. Arthritis symptoms can make it difficult for people to go about their daily lives. When it’s painful to walk, you may not feel like exercising or going shopping. In some cases, arthritis can isolate people because leaving home, getting in and out of a car and traveling short distances causes too much pain.
Roughly one in five U.S. adults with arthritis has symptoms of anxiety or depression, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That translates to about 10.8 million of 54 million American adults living with arthritis.
While it’s normal to feel some anxiety, constant feelings of anxiousness or sadness can signal something more serious is happening. Make sure you talk to your health provider or orthopaedic specialist if you’re worried you have anxiety or depression.
Anxiety symptoms can vary for each person, but common symptoms are:
- feeling restless
- having trouble focusing
- feeling worried or irritated
- having trouble sleeping
Depression symptoms may be more noticeable:
- feeling sad or hopeless
- feeling guilty or worthless
- losing interest in hobbies and activities
- thinking about death or suicide
- physical aches and pain that do not go away with treatment: headaches, cramps, fatigue or digestive problems.
The good news is that anxiety and depression can be treated. Many people with arthritis who feel anxious or depressed have found relief through learning techniques to deal with problems associated with arthritis. Scientific studies have shown that physical activity can reduce pain, improve function, mood, and quality of life for adults with arthritis, according to the CDC. Low-impact exercise, such as walking, biking or swimming can help you reap the benefits of exercise without causing joint damage or pain.
You should always check with your doctor first before starting a new exercise program. Working with a certified exercise specialist, going slowly and always taking the time to warm up and cool down can help you avoid pain during exercise.
It’s very common to have some pain, stiffness, and swelling when you start a new exercise routine. In fact, it can take as long as two months for your joints to get used to your new activity level, according to the CDC.
Just remember to talk to your doctor or orthopaedic specialist if you have any constant sharp or stabbing pain from exercise. This includes pain that forces you to limp while walking or lasts more than a couple hours after exercising.
In many cases, rest and using hot or cold packs can alleviate pain.
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