What You Should Know About Managing Arthritis Pain

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about 54 million American adults have some form of arthritis, a number that will most likely increase as the country’s population ages.

Arthritis is a “catch-all” term that refers to over 100 different conditions, all of which affect the joints. In fact, the term arthritis comes from the Greek, meaning “joint inflammation.” The two most common types are osteoarthritis (OA), which is a breakdown in the joint components due to wear and tear, and rheumatoid arthritis (RA), which is an autoimmune disease. With RA, your immune cells attack your own tissues, destroying them in the process. Other common types of arthritis include gout, fibromyalgia, psoriatic arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis.

No matter which type of arthritis you have, its symptoms include pain, stiffness, inflammation and swelling in the joint, and a limited range of motion.

Dr. Patrick T. Brennan at Coastal Pain Medicine in Pompano Beach, Florida is a interventional pain management specialist, board-certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation as well as in pain medicineary care. He has years of experience diagnosing and treating patients with arthritis. 

How arthritis is diagnosed

Before you can treat arthritis, you have to know which type you have. We consider the symptoms you’re experiencing and then perform an exam to check for pain, swelling, and loss of motion in the joints.

The next step is to use X-rays, fluid samples from the affected joint, and blood tests to determine factors specific to a given type of arthritis. For example, X-rays reveal the worn-out cartilage that’s characteristic of OA, while a blood test determines if you have rheumatoid factor (RF), which is the hallmark of rheumatoid arthritis. Psoriatic arthritis, another autoimmune condition, is often preceded by painful, itchy, scaly patches on the skin.

Gout is diagnosed by the presence of uric acid crystals in the joint space, often starting in the big toe, while fibromyalgia, which presents with widespread tenderness and pain, is usually determined by ruling out all other possibilities.

How arthritis is treated

Arthritis can’t be cured, but there are a number of different treatments for it, depending on the specific type. The best bet is a combination of medications, therapies, and lifestyle adjustments designed to ease pain and protect your joints from additional damage.

Treatments for arthritis might include:

Physical therapy exercises can be useful for arthritis patients, as these allow you to develop flexibility and overcome the challenges that come with pain and reduced mobility. 

Coastal Pain Medicine also offers more holistic approaches like acupuncture. Acupuncture is the most thoroughly researched complementary therapy. The World Health Organization recommends it for treatment of over 100 different conditions, and it seems to have the ability to reduce arthritis pain.

Self-care tips to manage arthritis pain

Although it may seem counterintuitive, physical exercise is your friend when you have arthritis. Research suggests that continued physical activity at a moderate level can help reduce symptoms over the long term. It’s important, though, to choose appropriate activities for your condition. 

Some low-impact exercise regimens that are good for patients with both arthritis and heart disease (they often come together) include:

You can also ask Dr. Brennan what type of exercise he recommends for you, and at what intensity.

In addition, to your treatment sessions at Coastal Pain Medicine, you may want to try some of the following complimentary remedies:

Meditation 

Meditation may help reduce arthritis pain by reducing stress and helping you cope better with the stress you have. National Institutes of Health (NIH) studies have shown that practicing mindfulness meditation helps some people with painful joints.

Massage

The Arthritis Foundation notes that regular massage helps reduce pain and stiffness in arthritic joints and improves range of motion. You can even work with a physical therapist to learn how to give yourself a massage.

Do you have painful joints and are looking for relief? Contact our office today by calling 954-284-0996 or by requesting an appointment online. We’re ready to help you start managing your arthritis and getting the relief you deserve.

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