For many people, especially as we age, arthritis can become more and more of an issue. Arthritis causes increased joint inflammation, leading to immobility and pain. It may impact on your travel choices.
How to improve mobility due to arthritis has been an ongoing issue for me. Before I had my knee replacement in 2020, doing long walks became impossible. My right knee is great now, and I recovered through the pandemic properly. Unfortunately, once we started travelling again, my left knee began to act up after too many days of long walks on uneven ground. It isn’t bad enough to be replaced now, so I need to do some exercises. I find using a stationary bicycle for 15 minutes thrice a week very helpful.
Hip and knee issues are the most common as we age, but it is surprising how much difficulty arthritis in your hands can cause. My left-hand looks fine, but it hurts like hell some days. I was worried about carrying suitcases on our 85-day world trip, and I was able to get a cortisone shot beforehand. My doctor said it would only last between three and six months. Turns out it barely lasted the three months, and near the end of our travels, it was acting up again.
Now I wear a brace if I am going to be carrying anything.
While conventional medical treatments are available for people with arthritis, many wonder what can be done along with medication to help improve mobility with their arthritis. There are many natural methods to help manage pain and improve mobility.
While arthritis will not go away no matter how well you take care of your body, you can manage your symptoms and stop the progression of the disease. Combining medication with these holistic treatment approaches allows you to travel comfortably as you age.
5 Tips To Improve Mobility With Arthritis
This article will show five alternative therapies and treatments to help you manage your daily arthritis symptoms and mobility issues.
Hot and Cold Therapy
One of the benefits of hot and cold therapy is that it can be done while travelling. The second benefit of hot and cold therapy is that it is inexpensive. Heating pads and ice packs are easy to have and don’t cost much money. Healthline suggests that arthritis sufferers try alternating hot and cold therapy to affected joints to decrease pain.
You may find that on some days, cold therapy works the best on your arthritic joints, while on other days, a heating pad may be better. Having both on hand is the best way to ensure that this therapy is effective at increasing your mobility and decreasing your pain.
Range of Motion Exercise
Many sufferers of arthritis keep the affected joints in a tightened position to alleviate pain. Unfortunately, this has the unintended side effect of increasing pain because it shortens ligaments and muscles around the affected joint. This means that instead of decreasing pain over the long term keeping the joints in a tightened position will increase pain.
The Cleveland Clinic recommends all arthritis sufferers participate in a range of motion exercises. The range of motion exercises typically includes stretching and extending the joints to their full ability. Some range of motion programs may include yoga or tai chi.
The trick here is to add a short exercise routine to your daily travel plans.
Hydrotherapy for Improved Mobility
Web M.D. recommends hydrotherapy as a form of exercise for those with arthritis. Hydrotherapy is similar to exercise and a pool. However, the pool tends to be warmer than a traditional swimming pool. With hydrotherapy, participants can get all the benefits of regular exercise without any impact on joints.
Hence, exercise in hotel pools and other warm water opportunities as you travel. See this article for examples you can easily do.
This may be especially beneficial to those with arthritis because the joints are particularly affected. Having an option for exercise that has zero impact on the joints can increase mobility and range of motion. Hydrotherapy is often considered a form of physical therapy and may be covered by insurance.
The arthritis foundation notes that one of the most beneficial treatments for mobility in arthritis patients is massage. Massage can help increase the range of motion by relieving tension on stiff muscles and ligaments surrounding the arthritic joints.
This may not be that practical when travelling. If you are on a cruise, treat yourself to a massage and mention that you want to focus on any arthritic areas. While language was a challenge in Thailand, I got fantastic massages for about $10 an hour. And in San Fransciso’s Chinatown, we found very affordable massages.
The arthritis foundation says that the best types of massage for people with arthritis are either deep tissue or Swedish. If you have a lot of pain, deep tissue massage may be difficult to tolerate because of how deep into the muscle massage therapist will go. Either way, massage therapy is an easily accessible treatment to help increase your range of motion with arthritis.
I hate to mention this, as I am guilty myself, but many sufferers of arthritis have excess weight. The excess weight increases pressure and damage to the joints. The increased pressure and damage to the joints increase pain which causes decreased mobility. It becomes a never-ending cycle of increased pain, decreased mobility, and self-loathing.
It isn’t my place to make any recommendations here, but having dropped a lot of weight in preparation for my knee surgery made all the difference. I would encourage anyone travelling to seek out healthy foods, eat balanced meals and not indulge too often.