Can you ever stop the pain of Arthritis?
Arthritis refers to the swelling and tenderness of one or more joints. It often begins with joint pain and stiffness which reduces your ability to move comfortably, and whilst there are 200 types of arthritis, the most widely known & common forms of arthritis are Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis causes cartilage — the hard, slippery tissue that covers the ends of bones where they form a joint — to break down, due to the lack of nutrients your body is absorbing.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a slightly different disease in which the immune system attacks the joints, beginning with the lining of joints.
This is the most common type of arthritis and generally occurs the older you get, but it’s also caused by “wear and tear” of the joints, in everyday activities. In Osteoarthritis, the synovial fluid that keeps the cartilage stable & healthy, has deteriorated or has dissipated, which results in the bones having no protection, and so they grind against each other with every movement. Unsurprisingly, this causes the extreme pain of Arthritis.
Osteoarthritis can be caused or exacerbated after a sports injury or a fall, so you can develop arthritis at any age, although this type of arthritis is more common with age.
Whilst arthritis in general is classified as an auto-immune disease, Rheumatoid arthritis is specifically an auto-immune arthritis, and not directly caused by a sports injury or generic joint deterioration over time. This type of arthritis is more severe and is more likely to occur at any age so even children can develop Rheumatoid Arthritis. The deterioration starts in a slightly different way that the membranes around the joint are attacked by the immune system which makes them deteriorate and become inflamed and swollen.
GET TESTED EARLY!
- Laboratory Test – Blood and joint fluid are usually obtained to be analysed for the types of arthritis that the patients might suffer from.
- Imaging (XRAY, CT, MRI, ULTRASOUND)
DO NOT PANIC. There is always something you can do to help!
- NSAIDs. NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines) can help to ease pain and inflammation. Ibuprofen is the most widely known anti-inflammatory and is available over the pharmacy counter. Ibuprofen can have an effect on some medication so it is always best to check with your pharmacist if it will impact any other medication you may be taking, plus it’s very toxic to the stomach lining, so always take it with food. Other stronger anti-inflammatories like Naproxen are only available on prescription via your Doctor.
- Counterirritants. Menthol or capsaicin, the chemical that makes hot peppers spicy, is found in several lotions and ointments. Rubbing these treatments on the skin over your hurting joints may cause pain signals from the joint to be disrupted.
- Steroids. Prednisone and other corticosteroid medicines lessen inflammation, but again are only available via prescription from your Doctor. Generally speaking, this type of treatment is only suggested for more severe cases.
2. Physical Therapy
- Exercise regime. There are lots of low impact exercise and stretching exercises that you can do, to help stabilise the joint, which will in turn reduce the amount of pain you experience. Gentle walking, swimming & yoga and pilates are by far the best type of exercise to try. Remember that by keeping mobile, you are helping to keep the inflammation in your joints down and your movement more fluid.
- Physiotherapy. Selected Physio exercises provided either through the NHS or through a private physiotherapist, can help you to strengthen your muscles & tendons around the affected joints, allow you to move with more fluidity and to guard against injury in movement. Physio often comes with an assessment of your posture, your ability & type of movement so that corrections can be made to make sure you’re not putting too much stress on another joint if your body is trying to compensate for the joint in pain.
- Joint Repair – Joint surfaces can be polished or repositioned to alleviate pain and increase function in some cases. These operations are frequently performed arthroscopically, which means they are done through small incisions over the joint.
- Joint Replacement – a procedure that involves replacing a joint. The injured joint is removed and replaced with an artificial one in this surgery. Hips and knees are the most typically replaced joints.
- Joint Fusion – Smaller joints, such as those in the wrist, ankle, and fingers, are more commonly treated with this surgery. It separates the ends of the two bones of the joint and then locks them together until the joint heals into a single stiff unit.
Whatever the type of Arthritis you have, there are always ways to help improve your condition and your movement just by making a few changes to your daily routine & exercise that could result in your condition improving.