5 Tips for Managing Arthritis Pain
Living with arthritis can be a lot to handle. Many patients suffer from different symptoms that can change from day to day. This can cause confusion and frustration. Patients with arthritis may also have other conditions, like diabetes, heart disease or obesity. Having two conditions together can make each condition harder to manage.
Know the Symptoms
Understanding the symptoms of arthritis pain can help with treatment. Pain from arthritis can happen in the joints and muscles. Common arthritis symptoms include:
- Joint pain or tenderness
- Joint soreness, swelling and sometimes redness
- Joint warmth
- Joint stiffness
- Long-term joint damage
- Loss of joint range of motion
If you have been experiencing any of these symptoms for longer than six weeks, you should talk to your doctor.
The treatment options depend on your needs and symptoms. It may involve more than one method. Many people suffering from arthritis take over-the-counter or prescription pills to help manage the pain. In addition, pain management, physical therapy and mental health treatment can help you manage chronic pain.
Take Control of Your Arthritis Pain
You can play a big part in helping to control your arthritis pain. Making good choices is important. Because arthritis is different in everyone, knowing your body can help. You want to understand and avoid your personal pain triggers, like over-exertion or certain foods.
Taking steps to improve your sleep, exercise regularly, and eating a low-fat, high-fiber diet may help.
Here are five pain management options to consider.
Exercise may be particularly useful in helping reduce arthritis symptoms. Low-impact exercise has been shown to improve joint mobility, relieve stiffness, reduce pain and fatigue, and strengthen muscles and bones.
- Cold/Hot Treatments
Applying cold and heat to inflamed joints may help with arthritis pain. Ice may help to reduce fluid in the tissue and decrease swelling and pain. Wrap ice in a towel and apply to the aching area for up to 20 minutes. You can ice your joints several times a day.
Heat treatments can be applied in the same way. Use a hot water bottle or heating pad and apply it to the swelling. Heat opens the blood vessels and increases circulation. This brings in nutrients and proteins that are essential in repairing the arthritis damage. Heat and ice treatments can be used in combination.
Acupuncture may help to relieve pain by releasing endorphins. It may also block pain messages from being delivered to the brain.
- Herbal Supplements
There are many herbal supplements that may help to reduce inflammation caused by arthritis. Capsaicin may help fight arthritis pain, according to the Arthritis Foundation. Turmeric is another healthy spice that has been used to reduce inflammation for hundreds of years.
Severe cases of arthritis may require surgery to replace or repair damaged joints. Types of surgery used to treat arthritis include joint replacement and arthroscopic surgery.
Determining what you may need to change – activities, diet, exercise or stress level – can help improve-quality of life. Knowing you have a plan can help when the pain and fatigue from arthritis may seem overwhelming.
It’s also key to meet with your doctor to properly diagnose what type of arthritis you’re dealing with.
The good news is there are many ways to get support. The American Chronic Pain Association (theacpa.org) has a lot of good information for arthritis patients. In addition, the Arthritis Foundation also has tips for putting together a treatment plan.
Talk to your doctor about what might work best for your needs. It’s important to share your pain levels, medication side effects and symptoms. This will help you come up with a plan for managing the pain.