Living with Arthritis Pain

May 24, 2016

Living with Arthritis Pain

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Today, there are nearly 53 million Americans dealing with arthritis pain, including one-third of all people over 65. Symptoms include: swelling, inflammation, and the degeneration of joints found all over the body.

Once developed, chronic pain as a result of either osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis can last from three to six months at a time, or even affect a person throughout their entire lifetime. Painful symptoms may come and go, or stay constant, making it difficult for many people to perform the activities of daily life.

Treatments and Techniques for Arthritis

As a leading cause of disability and pain worldwide, there is plenty of information on arthritis as well as possible treatments and remedies.

Some of the main strategies for dealing with arthritic pain include:

Regular Exercise - Low-impact, gentle exercises can help to strengthen the muscles around your joints, as well as helping with any symptoms of fatigue. Walking or jogging can be great options, but swimming and water aerobics are a favorite among many people with arthritis.

Applying Heat or Cold - While heat helps to relax and ease stressed muscles, cold may offset sensations of pain and decrease muscle spasms. By keeping your muscles flexible, your joints can have a better chance at increasing their range of movement.

Relaxation - Learning to limit your daily stress can help you deal with the pain of arthritis, increasing wellness overall. Finding a time every day to slow down, breathe, and reinforce positivity can go a long way!

Medications for Arthritis

For more advanced cases and intense pain, there are various forms of medication available for treating arthritis. First, consult your doctor or physician in order to hone in on what your specific needs may be. Always be sure to provide complete information about your symptoms, as well as any other existing medical conditions. Ask about whether or not there has been any damage to your joints, and which activities are safe for you to perform.

The main medications for treating arthritis include:

Analgesics - Designed specifically to relieve pain. Types include acetaminophen (Tylenol), and prescription opioids.

Biologics Response Modifiers - Genetically engineered drugs from living organisms such as viruses, genes or proteins. Used to target the processes responsible for rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory types of arthritis.

Corticosteroids - Mimic the effects of cortisol, a hormone responsible for reducing inflammation. Usually prescribed for short-term relief due to side effects.

Disease-Modifying Antirheumatic Drugs (DMARDs) - Usually prescribed in conjunction with Biologics, this medication can work to effectively slow or modify the disease process of rheumatoid arthritis.

Non-steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) - Used to block hormone-like substances (prostaglandins), which are responsible for pain and inflammation.

Other Treatments and Considerations

Several topical treatments are also available, such as lidocaine or prilocaine found in the form of gels, creams, and patches. These substances act to numb nerve endings close to the skin, limiting pain.

Hyaluronic acid injections are another treatment option, although there is less support for its effectiveness. Essentially, this substance is a component of natural cartilage; the idea is that it actually helps the regeneration of damaged joint proteins after being injected as a lubricant.

Other, more natural remedies include acupuncture, meditation, eating more omega-3 fatty acids, and massage. As with the addition of any new supplement or medicine, consult your doctor to avoid any unwanted herb-drug interactions.

Living with arthritis can be difficult, especially with no definitive cure and varying treatments. However, the more you learn about this debilitating condition, the easier it will be to find a routine that works for you. By utilizing several different pain management techniques for your arthritis, you'll be able to continue to live a high quality of life.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How does osteoarthritis impact daily life?

Depending on the severity of the condition, osteoarthritis affects people differently. Most of the time the wearing of joints occurs very gradually over the course of many years. Mild cases are relatively able to be managed and constitute only a minor nuisance while living day-to-day.

More severe cases can limit mobility or the willingness to participate in daily activities due to the pain and discomfort resulting from osteoarthritis. This condition can make it hard to complete tasks involved with self-care, often discouraging people from working to treat osteoarthritis with healthy exercise.

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How is Rheumatoid Arthritis different from Osteoarthritis?

With Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), the body attacks the lining of joints as if it were trying to fight an injury or disease. Just like a cut on your finger can cause inflammation, RA leads to pain, swelling, and stiffness in joints that can last for hours at a time. Similar to other autoimmune diseases, people with RA will often feel tired or feverish. To treat this condition, doctors will often prescribe DMARDs (disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs), which can help with inflammation and tiredness.

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