What is arthritis?
Arthritis is a condition caused by inflammation in the joints. It is often used to refer to a group of many diseases that can cause pain, stiffness, and swelling in the joints. There are over 100 types of arthritis. Some of the most common types of arthritis include:
- Osteoarthritis – sometimes called degenerative joint disease, is the most common type of arthritis. Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage between bones gradually breaks down causing the bones to run against each other resulting in pain and swelling. It is most common in the knee, hip, and facet joints.
- Rheumatoid arthritis – is long lasting and can affect joints in any part of the body, but most commonly the hands, wrists, and knees. Rheumatoid arthritis attacks the lining of your joints causing swelling that can result in aching and throbbing.
- Gouty arthritis – is a painful condition that occurs when there are elevated levels of uric acid in the bloodstream, which the body is unable to eliminate. Crystals of uric acid are deposited on the cartilage of joints, tendons, and surrounding tissues causing swelling and severe pain. Gouty arthritis most often occurs in the big toe, knee, and wrist joint.
What are arthritis symptoms?
Arthritis symptoms vary from person to person and by type of arthritis, but may include:
- Pain in the joint area
- Swelling in the joint area
- Stiffness in the joint area
- Tenderness in the joint area
- Redness in the joint area
- Warmth in the joint area
What are the causes of arthritis pain?
Causes of arthritis pain can include:
- Inflammation in the joints, tendons, or ligaments
- Damage to tissue in the joint
- Muscle strain caused by overcompensating muscles to protect the joints
- Fatigue caused by the disease process
What are my options for arthritis pain relief?
Similarly to arthritis symptoms, arthritis treatment also varies from person to person. An arthritis pain relief option that works well for one person may not be the best arthritis pain relief option for another. There is no single arthritis treatment that applies to all people with arthritis. There are many arthritis treatment options available, including:
- Pain medications – depending on the type of arthritis, pain medications can include acetaminophen (Tylenol), aspirin or other NSAID medications (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), or DMARDS drugs (disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs)
- Heat and Cold –placing heat on the joint for 15 minutes may help relieve the pain. An ice pack placed on the sore area for 15 minutes may reduce swelling as well as help relieve the pain
- Joint protection –using a brace will allow the joint to rest
- Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) – delivers mild electric pulses to the nerve endings under the skin in the painful area causing the pain signal to be blocked
- Massage – massage will increase blood flow and bring warmth to a stressed area; however since arthritic joints are very sensitive the massage therapist will need to be cautious
- Corticosteroids – they can be given by mouth or injected into the inflamed joint. Injections are limited to a few times a year
What can I do to manage my arthritis pain?
- Eat healthy
- Get plenty of rest
- Keep a journal of pain to share with your pain management doctor
- Exercise – low impact activities such as walking, swimming, and stretching may reduce joint pain and stiffness
- Weigh reduction – excess weight can add stress to certain joints, primarily weight-bearing joints such as knees and hips
For additional information on:
- Osteoarthritis pain
- Rheumatoid arthritis pain
- Gouty arthritis pain
- Arthritis Pain Relief
Please call Southeast Pain and Spine Care to schedule an appointment with one of our pain management doctors.