arthritis pain

What Are My Pain Management Options?

This article will explore foods for arthritis, medications and surgeries. An option is Omnilux LED therapy, primarily used for skin conditions and wound healing, but there is limited evidence to suggest its effectiveness in directly treating arthritis.

10 Foods for Arthritis

  1. Fatty fish (e.g., salmon, mackerel)
  2. Nuts and seeds (e.g., walnuts, flaxseeds)
  3. Berries (e.g., blueberries, strawberries)
  4. Leafy greens (e.g., spinach, kale)
  5. Turmeric
  6. Ginger
  7. Olive oil
  8. Whole grains (e.g., brown rice, oats)
  9. Beans and legumes
  10. Green tea

Physical Activity

Too often, those with arthritis are reluctant to be physically active because they fear it will hurt or worsen their condition or pain. The Mayo Clinic suggests that:

  • Physical therapy can be helpful for some types of arthritis. Exercise can improve the range of motion and strengthen the muscles surrounding joints. In some cases, splints or braces may be warranted.

Similarly, the Arthritis Foundation states that “exercise is the best medicine.” The Arthritis Foundation has an amazing series of exercise videos you can watch online from the comfort of your home. Many of these exercises are performed seated in a chair and use no or minimal equipment.

Medications: Prescribed and Over the Counter

Medications may be helpful, but it might take some time for you and your doctor to determine which medication works best for you and at what dose. The Mayo Clinic advises that:

  • Arthritis treatment focuses on relieving symptoms and improving joint function. You may need to try several different treatments, or combinations of treatments before you determine what works best for you. Following a diagnosis, your doctor may prescribe a set of medicines that will help to relieve the pain and swelling.
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However, factors such as your activity level, nutrition, changes in weight and other health conditions may impact how effective these medications will be. In addition, these prescribed drugs may include ones that will help to calm the immune system. Prescribed drugs may include corticosteroids such as prednisone, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs.

Prescription drugs work to relieve arthritis pain in various ways, depending on the specific drug. NSAIDs or Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs work by blocking a hormone-like product known as prostaglandins; this results in a reduction in pain and inflammation. Corticosteroids reduce inflammation by acting like our own natural cortisol.

DMARDS, or Disease-Modifying Antirheumatic Drugs, play a significant role in preventing arthritis from getting worse while still treating the symptoms and:

Are used to slow or stop the inflammation that causes your joints and disease to get worse. Although DMARDs technically refer to drugs used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, they are also an important tool for treating other inflammatory forms of arthritis, including ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis and lupus. DMARDs weaken your ability to fight germs, so taking them raises your chances of getting infections.

Over-the-counter drugs such as naproxen, aspirin and ibuprofen also work to relieve arthritis symptoms by reducing pain and inflammation. Talk to your doctor and pharmacist about how to take these drugs safely; even though they are “over the counter” they may cause complications when combined with other drugs or treatments. Further, following the recommended use instructions on over-the-counter drugs is important, just as you would with prescription drugs.

Surgical Intervention

Your doctor may want to surgically replace an affected joint if all other non-surgical treatments have failed in severe cases. Another surgical intervention is joint fusion. I have arthritis in my hands, neck and feet. Recently, I had a toe joint fused (it no longer bends at the joint) and that surgery has been a game-changer! I can do all the activities that I love without pain in that joint.

Surgical interventions work to relieve arthritis pain by replacing part or all of the poorly functioning joint with an artificial joint that will perform without pain. In the case of joint fusion, the joint can no longer move, thus reducing its pain.

Bringing it All Together

Unfortunately, there is not yet a cure for arthritis in its many forms. However, early diagnosis and treatment at the disease’s first stages can help prevent severe complications and set you on a path to better manage all the symptoms, including pain. My pain management toolbox includes regular exercise, water-based exercise, massage, surgical intervention, healthy eating and naproxen.

For many people, arthritis symptoms run on a continuum; some symptoms can be bothersome or move down the continuum and be completely debilitating. However, arthritis pain management is possible through exploration and reliance on your healthcare team. You too can better manage this often painful disease.

The Mayo Clinic advises that symptoms of arthritis include pain in the affected joints. There are more than a hundred forms of arthritis (with related diseases) but the symptoms for all often include joint pain, swelling, a reduced range of motion, stiffness and redness. The joint may even feel hot. The many pain management treatments for these symptoms all aim to reduce pain and swelling and increase the affected joint's function.

Under the guidance of your healthcare team, you will discover the perfect recipe to manage your arthritis pain. Relying on a balance of activity that will maintain your overall health along with rest may reduce those painful flare-ups.

Add in sound nutrition and judicious use of both prescribed and over-the-counter medications. Top it all off with a supportive and loving social network. While you may still experience arthritis pain, know that you are doing all you can to keep discomfort minimal.