Arthritis Pain

Types of Arthritis

Simply put, there are two general categories of arthritis:  osteoarthritis and inflammatory arthritis.  Osteoarthritis is when the cartilage in the joint breaks down from use or trauma and is the most common form.  Inflammatory arthritis is an autoimmune disease.  The human body malfunctions and its immune system starts attacking its own joints.  Examples would be rheumatoid, lupus, and psoriatic arthritis.

Treatment of Arthritis Pain

Different types of arthritis require different methods of treatment.  However there are some common treatment strategies that would be useful in either type.

Managing constant arthritic pain can take a tremendous amount of energy, but there are home treatments for you to take control over your pain level.  Some treatments include placing heat or ice on the painful joints. Many times I am asked which is better for arthritis, heat or ice? The answer is both can be used. Heat loosens up muscles, increases flexibility and increases circulation.  It can be used to warm up your joints before you exercise or reduce a muscle spasm.  Ice can be used after exercise to reduce swelling, inflammation, and pain in the joints after increased activity. 

An effective treatment for foot or hand osteoarthritis is the use of a home paraffin bath.  Use of paraffin wax is the best method to heat a hand or a foot.  If you dip your extremity in the wax 10-12 times, it will form a glove-like coating on your hand or foot.  The wax holds the heat in your extremities for the entire 20-30 minute treatment. Paraffin especially helps reduce the pain and increases the flexibility in your hand and finger joints before you exercise.

Another treatment that is very important in managing your arthritis, regardless of type, is exercise.  Exercise increases your strength and flexibility, reduces joint pain, and helps with fatigue. Understandably when you suffer from arthritis, you are stiff and in pain; the thought of walking around the block may even seem overwhelming. The lack of exercise can make your joints even more painful and stiff. Maintaining the strength in your muscles and surrounding tissues is very important in supporting your joints. When you don’t exercise, your muscles become weak which increases the stress on your joints. It is very important before beginning an exercise program, to make sure it is tailored to your specific needs. What type of exercises are best for you will depend on the type of arthritis and which joints are involved.  

If you are having trouble managing your arthritis, making it difficult for you to get through your day or doing activities that you like,  it may be worthwhile for you to consult with a physiatrist.  Contact the office of Frank Y. Wei, M.D., PLLC to see how we can get you back on the road to recovery.

Author
JIll Sinda, M.S., P.T., Frank Y. Wei, M.D.

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