COVID-19 and OA: Tips for Staying Healthy

The coronavirus may have disrupted your osteoarthritis care routine, but here’s how to stay on track. 

Keep Up with Medical Care
Some of your appointments may have been delayed, but it’s important to keep up with medical care. Failure to do so can cause worsening pain and symptoms, which can also impact sleep, mood and the ability to exercise. Maintain regular doctor’s appointments – including telemedicine. If you must go to the office, rest assured that many are employing extensive safety protocols, like requiring masks, enhanced sanitization and limiting the number of visitors at one time. Call ahead to learn more.
Look into Supplements
No single vitamin, mineral or food can cure or prevent COVID-19, or “boost” your immune system. So, don’t believe any product that claims it can. However, some supplements can still support a healthy immune and help your body’s ability to fight illness. These include Vitamins D and C, Zinc and some probiotic strains. Click here to learn more about the best supplements to support immunity.  
Manage Comorbidities
In addition to maintaining routine OA care, managing other conditions is just as important to staying healthy. This is especially true if you are exposed to the coronavirus. Certain comorbidities, like hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, lung disease and obesity, are linked with more severe illness and outcomes. Manage comorbidities by keeping up with proper treatments, medical appointments and recommended lifestyle modifications.
Get Moving
You’ve heard it before – movement is one of the best treatments for managing OA. Plus, exercise helps support a healthy immune system, which is more critical now than ever. But just because you can’t go to the gym, doesn’t mean you have to quit your fitness routine. There are plenty of ways to stay active – including at home exercises and online/livestreaming workouts. Even a stroll around the block can help manage pain and symptoms. So, resist the excuses and tie up your laces!
Eat a Healthy Diet
More time at home may mean more temptation and bored visits to the fridge. But avoid mindless munching, or at the very least, keep healthy, low-calorie snacks on hand, like fruit, veggies and hummus and low-fat yogurt. Eating a healthy, balanced diet, like the Mediterranean Diet, can also help keep extra pounds at bay – which is important for managing joint pain and symptoms associated with osteoarthritis. Click here to learn how to make an arthritis-friendly meal by Celebrity Chef Ming Tsai.
Prioritize Sleep
During stressful times, getting the proper amount of sleep can be difficult. But not getting enough rest can worsen pain, increase appetite and cause mood swings. Poor sleep can also weaken your immune system and raise your infection risk. Prioritize rest by practicing good sleep hygiene, including making your bedroom a no-screen zone, and creating a relaxing bedtime routine. For more sleep tips, click here.   
Following Social Distancing Guidelines
Experts agree – the best way to prevent infection is to practice social distance as much as possible. The CDC offers tips and guidelines for best practices – including staying at least six feet apart, avoiding mass gatherings and getting groceries, prescriptions and other essential items delivered. If you must venture out, take extra precautions like wearing a mask, maintaining a safe distance from others and using your elbows to press buttons. When you get home, wash your hands immediately.
Make Time for Yourself
Stress can impact the immune system and contribute to increased pain. So, it’s important to be gentle with yourself and practice behaviors that promote emotional wellbeing. It’s good to stay informed, but non-stop news will only worsen anxiety. Set aside 10-15 minutes to catch up on the news and leave it at that. Positive self-talk is another to support your emotional health. For even more ways to alleviate stress, click here.
Say “No” to Smoking
COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that attacks the lung cells. New analysis from University of San Francisco researchers found that smoking nearly doubles the rate of disease progression. Researchers also warn against e-cigarettes and vaping pens, noting that using them can increase the risk and severity of pulmonary infections. Quitting smoking is also important for disease management – smoking is associated with severe pain and increased cartilage loss in OA.   
Stay Informed and Connected
Stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news specific to arthritis, including tips on staying healthy, preventing infection, employee rights and more in our Coronavirus: What You Should Know special section. And remember, social distancing doesn’t mean social isolation. Connect with others for through the Arthritis Foundation’s Live YES! Network, and support the community by joining our army of arthritis advocates, sharing your story and demanding action from your legislators.

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