Q: I have been trying to deal with arthritis for a few years. It is mostly in my hands and neck. I take fish oil, MSM, tumeric, minerals, eat a diet very low in animal fats, lots of whole grains. One cup of coffee a day. Anything you can suggest that I am not currently doing?
A: While I can’t necessarily argue with any of the interventions you are currently using, the one glaring omission from your list is exercise.
Exercise has been shown to alleviate pain from osteoarthritis even better than some pain medications. Strengthening the muscles around affected joints helps to stabilize the joint, off-load pressure and reduce pain.
A good exercise for the hands is to fill the sink or bathtub with warm water, hold a rolled up washcloth in your fist, submerge your hands and squeeze on the cloth as if you are trying to squeeze the water out of it. You can also do this with a ball of clay or therapeutic putty.
If you haven’t already, ask your physician for a referral to a physical therapist who can teach you some good exercises for your neck and upper shoulders
Dr. Brent Ridge is the health expert for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. You can call and ask him a question live every Tuesday at 2 p.m. Eastern on Sirius Satellite Radio, Channel 112 (1.866.675.6675). You can also follow along as he learns to grow his own food and raise goats on his farm in upstate New York by visiting www.beekman1802.com.
Got a health question for Dr. Brent? E-mail him at email@example.com.