Arthritis Pain Treatment – Different Ways and Approaches
Arthritis may be a lot easier to handle if only the pain was non-existent. Unfortunately, pain is one of the symptoms that characterize this condition and it is the most difficult, most uncomfortable part of suffering from arthritis. Arthritis has no cure – at least not yet – so don’t believe any advertisement or product claim that says otherwise. Pain associated with arthritis can vary in severity, but it can be managed with the right treatments.
Understanding Pain from Arthritis
In order to manage arthritic pain, it is important to understand what it is and how it affects treatment. Pain that is short in duration is generally easier to treat compared to pain that lasts longer, such as that experienced during an arthritic attack. This type of pain is caused by inflammation and damage to the joints. As the condition progresses, fatigue and wear and tear set in, which make pain much more difficult to handle.
Arthritic Pain Treatments Using Drugs
Painkillers or analgesics such as those containing acetaminophen may be prescribed to treat pain but they will not do anything for the inflammation. If you do not suffer from inflamed joints, analgesics will provide temporary relief from arthritic pain. They are also available as over-the-counter drugs while stronger doses require a prescription.
To treat pain caused by inflammation, NSAIDs or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may be used. NSAIDs are effective in reducing stiffness and joint swelling, giving temporary relief from arthritis pain. These drugs, which include ibuprofen, naproxen sodium and aspirin are also available over-the-counter while other types may need a prescription. If NSAIDs are prescribed, be aware that they are accompanied by side effects, including stomach upset. NSAIDs contribute to the deterioration of the gastrointestinal tract lining and prolonged use may contribute to ulcers.
Glucocorticoids and DMARDs (disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs) may also be prescribed for the treatment of arthritis pain. Glucocorticoids are similar to cortisol, a natural hormone found in the body. The synthetic form can either be injected directly or taken as a pill to relieve pain caused by inflammation. When given as a treatment of choice, glucocorticoids are carefully monitored in order to minimize side effects.
DMARDs, such as hydroxycholorquine, methotrexate and azulfdine also control the inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis, effectively reducing swelling and pain. The only drawback about these drugs is that they take a while to reduce symptoms. Depending on the patient and the severity of the condition, DMARDs can take weeks or even months in order to produce satisfactory results.
There are also other medications used for the treatment of arthritis pain. These include topical pain relievers, salicylates, muscle relaxants, nerve blockers, antidepressants and narcotics. Make sure you understand the options available for the type of pain you are experiencing and always discuss any problems you might have with your doctor.
Other Ways to Treat Pain
You might think that the first thing a doctor would do is to prescribe painkillers to zap discomfort. While this might be one of the major components of your treatment for arthritis pain, it should not be the only approach. Let’s take a look at several options that should be considered as a complement to conventional medications:
Diet and Exercise
Excessive weight can make arthritis pain worse, especially if the affected areas are the ankles, knees, hips and spine. It may benefit these areas more if a sensible diet and exercise program are used in order to lose weight gradually. Avoid foods that seem to make your symptoms worse and include only healthy food in your meals. Try to engage in active and productive activities that promote movement. You may need to take it easy on certain joints, but that doesn’t mean you should lose it to arthritis.
It would seem a little strange for a doctor to prescribe anti-depressants to patients, but this is often the case with those who suffer from terrible arthritis pain. Anti-depressants help relax and calm the body so the patient will be more emotionally equipped to handle the pain. Avoid feelings of depression by regularly using relaxation techniques to prevent anxiety and manage fatigue. Having pleasant thoughts and a positive attitude usually works well with arthritis patients as part of any conventional or alternative treatment.
Treatment for arthritis pain has come a long way and new ones are still being researched and discovered today. When treating pain for arthritis, try different approaches aside from conventional medication, such as lifestyle changes and modifications of your own emotional approach to the problem. Arthritis may still be incurable but pain can certainly be managed effectively.