As you age, your joints become more susceptible to inflammation, resulting in a disease known as arthritis. Arthritis can cause severe pain that may interfere with your everyday activities like walking, bathing, or even standing up.
Osteoarthritis vs. Rheumatoid Arthritis
Arthritis is an umbrella term for over 100 joint diseases. The most common forms are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative disease that commonly occurs in weight-bearing joints like your hips and knees. Also known as wear-and-tear disease, osteoarthritis wears down the cartilage in your joints. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, osteoarthritis affects over 32.5 million adults in the United States.
Over time, osteoarthritis can erode the cartilage until there is no protective layer left to prevent bones from rubbing against each other. Abnormal bone spurs or extra bits of bone can also form in the affected joint. If OA is left untreated, it can result in chronic pain, deformity, and disability.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a form of arthritis that can affect more than just joints. RA is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissues and harms body systems like the skin, eyes, lungs, heart, kidneys, and blood vessels. Fatigue, fever, and loss of appetite are some symptoms of this condition.
Unlike osteoarthritis, which targets cartilage, rheumatoid arthritis causes inflammation in the synovium, the membrane lining your joints. The synovium expands, which eventually weakens the cartilage and bone. RA increases the risk of developing heart complications, lung disease, and lymphoma.
Managing Arthritis Pain
There is no cure for arthritis, but there are ways to live with the disease. Your treatment plan will vary depending on the severity of your condition and your overall health. Generally, one of the main goals of treatment is to help you manage pain symptoms.
One of the easiest ways to relieve stiffness and decrease swelling is by allowing the inflamed joints to relax. You can also apply heat or cold to affected areas to help your muscles relax.
Over-the-counter medications like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, pain relievers, topical creams, and prescription drugs like corticosteroids and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs can help you control symptoms and slow down the disease’s progression. Keep in mind to consult with your doctor before using these medications and schedule follow-up visits to check for any side effects.
Pain management specialists may also recommend viscosupplementation. This treatment method involves the injection of hyaluronic acid to your affected joints. Viscosupplementation is often used to relieve the symptoms of knee osteoarthritis.
Likewise, a balanced diet is also vital to helping manage your weight and improve muscle and bone strength.
Physical Exercises for Arthritis
Physical therapy is an effective way to reduce painful symptoms and maintain range of motion in your joints.
Your therapist can teach you proper body mechanics, like how to move from one position to another, to reduce the risk of injury or how to tone down the intensity of a physically demanding task.
Instead of lifting a heavy object from a countertop, for instance, you can try sliding it along the surface. If you’re standing up from a chair, use your thigh muscles instead of pushing with your hands. If needed, your therapist can also prescribe assistive walking aids, braces, and shoe inserts to reduce strain on affected joints.
Your provider can craft a personalized exercise plan designed to keep you moving without placing too much pressure on your joints. It’s important to stay active since prolonged inactivity can impair joint function even further.
Your physical therapist is likely to recommend low-impact exercises like walking, swimming, resistance training, yoga, and cycling to improve muscle strength, increase your range of motion, and maintain overall fitness. Avoid high-impact activities that can place unnecessary pressure on your joints.
However, if conservative treatments fail to relieve your pain, your doctor might recommend surgery.
Arthritis Pain Management in Boca Raton, FL
Don’t let joint pain spell the end of your active lifestyle. There are many ways to alleviate and treat arthritis pain, for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, such as medication or physical therapy.
For expert pain management, visit Kamerlink Pain Institute at Boca Raton, Florida, to explore your options designed to alleviate arthritis pain. Dr. Jonathan Kamerlink is a board-certified pain management physician skilled in treating acute and chronic pain through minimally invasive procedures, including injection therapies, radiofrequency ablation, spinal cord stimulation, and physical therapy.
To schedule an appointment, call (561) 404-7667. We look forward to helping you live comfortably with arthritis and lead a productive, pain-free life.