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Diet shakes can work if they supress your appetite, but they are not a good long term solution. You should see a nutritionist and get on a low calorie diet. You should also exercise more, which is probably very hard for you given your arthritis. The best exercise in a situation like this is swimming, as our weight in the water is only about 1/5 of what it is on dry land, allowing one to exercise more with less pain and wear and tear on the joints and back. As for the cramps, you should check in with your GP to make sure it is not related to a vitamin or electrolyte deficiency. You should also work with a physical therapist on a home program of twice daily stretching that will reduce the frequency and severity of your cramps. In addition, you can ask your GP about muscle relaxers which reduce cramping and help people sleep at night.
That's acetaminophen (tylenol) which may help with pain but does nothing for cramping or inflammation. For these you would need a muscle relaxer (eg. flexeril, baclofen) or an antiinflammatory (eg. ibuprofen, naproxyn). If your joints are really bad, I would recommend that in addition to seeing a physical therapist, that you also see a rheumatologist. These are the doctors who specialize in diagnosing and treating diseases of the joints.
Yes. You could benefit from both referrals. Your dad as well.
You're welcome. Hope all works out for the best for you.