Exercise And Wise Use Of Joints
Another key to coping with pain is to follow an exercise program designed by your doctor or physical therapist.
Your exercise program should include special range-of-motion exercises to help keep your joints movable. It should also include general fitness exercise such as swimming or walking. These help keep your heart, lungs, bones and muscles strong. Exercise also helps relieve stiffness and gives you an improved sense of well-being. Here are some tips to help you exercise properly:
- If you have a flare, do only gentle range-of-motion exercises.
- Start with just a few exercises and slowly add more.
- Listen to your body. If it hurts too much or if you begin to have too much pain, stop the exercise. Ask your doctor or therapist to help you learn the difference between normal exercise discomfort and too much exercise pain.
Using joints wisely and saving energy
Using your joints wisely means doing everyday tasks in ways that reduce the stress on painful joints. Saving your energy means “listening” to your body for signals that it needs to rest. It also means learning to pace yourself so you don’t become too tired. Here are a few guidelines for using your joints wisely and for saving your energy:
Find Your Healthy Weight
Being a healthy weight is important for everyone, but especially for those suffering from joint pain.1 Excess weight places increased stress on your whole body, especially your joints.2 But heres the good newslosing even just a few pounds can help you reduce pressure on your ankles, knees, and hips.3 For your best odds of long-term weight loss success, take off the pounds slowly using a healthy eating plan and regularly engaging in physical activity.
What Can I Do To Manage My Pain
Pain may limit some of the things you do, but it doesnt have to control your life. Your mind plays an important role in how you feel pain. Thinking of pain as a signal to take positive action rather than being scared or worried about it can be helpful. Also you can learn ways to manage your pain. What works for one person may not work for another, so you may have to try different techniques until you find what works best for you.
Here are some things you can try:
Contact your local Arthritis Office for details of self management courses that can teach you these techniques. You may also find it useful to see a psychologist to learn other mind techniques to help you cope with pain.
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The Scoop On Supplements
Supplements abound when it comes to arthritis. But only glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate have some evidence to support their use. Glucosamine with chondroitin may decrease pain in people with moderate to severe osteoarthritis of the knee.
Note that osteoarthritis is the only type of arthritis that may benefit from these supplements. They do not help people with rheumatoid arthritis.
In general, glucosamine and chondroitin have minimal side effects. Steer clear of glucosamine if you are allergic to shellfish, or consider only glucosamine derived from a vegetable source. Glucosamine may raise blood sugar. Chondroitin can interact with anticoagulant and antiplatelet drugs such as warfarin and aspirin that can increase the risk of bleeding.
Can Arthritis Pain Be Controlled
There are many things you can do to help control your arthritis pain. The goals of these methods are to control pain by:
- learning new ways to reduce pain
- taking as few pain medicines as possible
- changing pain habits that disrupt your normal lifestyle
- increasing your physical and social activity so you can return to an active life as much as possible
The methods listed here will work differently for different people. So some methods may work for you but some may not. Some methods are things you can do for yourself. Others require help from your doctor or other health professionals. Talk to your doctor about these methods. With a little practice you will find the right ones for you.
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Serotonin Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors
Serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors , inhibit serotonin and/or norepinephrine reuptake selectively, e.g., duloxetine and milnacipran. Overall, SNRIs are better tolerated than TCAs but may be less effective analgesics they are not recommended as first-line drugs for analgesia in RA patients, although they may be useful to manage sleep-related symptoms . A recent study found duloxetine was an effective analgesic in patients with OA of the knee .
Berries Apples And Pomegranates
Berries are rich in antioxidants and the Arthritis Foundation notes that blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, cranberries, raspberries and boysenberries all provide arthritis-fighting power. Youll get health benefits no matter if you eat them frozen, fresh or dehydrated , so be sure to eat a variety of berries throughout the week.
Apples are also high in antioxidants and a good source of fiber. Plus, they provide crunch and can help curb your appetite for unhealthy snacks, Dunn says.
Pomegranates, which are classified as berry fruits, are rich in tannins which can fight the inflammation of arthritis. Add these to a salad or stir into plain yogurt for some added benefits.
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What Blocks Pain Signals
Many scientists think pain control methods help reduce pain by blocking pain signals. Pain signals are sent through a complex system of nerves in the brain and spinal cord.
There are many things that can block these signals and thus prevent the pain message from reaching your brain.
Pain signals are blocked by chemicals made by the brain called endorphins. There are several things that can cause the brain to produce endorphins. These include “natural” controls, such as your own thoughts and emotions, or “outside” controls such as medicines.
A father driving with his children is hurt in a car accident. The father is so worried about his children that he doesn’t feel the pain from his own broken arm. The concern for his children somehow blocked the pain signal and kept the pain from affecting him.
Certain medicines such as morphine imitate the body’s endorphins and block the pain signal. Other pain control methods, such as heat and cold treatments, physical therapy, exercise, relaxation and massage can stimulate the body to release its own endorphins or to block the pain signal in other ways.
Schedule Regular Swim Sessions
When it comes to joint pain, its use it or lose it the less you move your body, the more your joints will hurt when you do try to be active. As tempting as it is to stay on the couch to avoid pain, exercise is the best thing for your body in the long run. When you do hit the gym, a swim session could be your best move. It pretty much negates the effects of gravity when youre in the pool, says Dr. Khattri. Gravity is the enemy of arthritis, especially if its in the back or knees.
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Expert Q& a: Just Dealing With Chronic Pain
Why it’s important to get proper treatment for chronic pain.
Q: With both fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis, I have constant pain. Even with treatment, it never goes away completely. Ive just been dealing with it. Is that OK?
Chronic pain is not a problem you should just put up with in fact, you should be dealing with chronic pain in ways that are effective. This is important because an increasing number of studies show serious consequences of having chronic pain. It may cause damage to certain areas of the brain, just as chronic stress does. Chronic pain also may lead to psychological problems, such as depression social problems, such as isolation or decreased earning potential and functional problems, such as decreased activity or disability.
Medications can also be helpful. For moderate-to-severe knee osteoarthritis , the supplement glucosamine may provide some relief, as may the right combination of analgesics or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs . There are three drugs specifically approved for use in fibromyalgia, as well as many drugs that have been shown to be effective but are not specifically approved.
Tell your doctor that the treatments you tried previously are not resolving your chronic pain, and then work with him to find the right combination of treatments for you. It may take some time, but the result will be worth the effort.
Remember That No Is A Perfectly Acceptable Answer
Frustrating as it is, other people wont always understand what its like living with arthritis. Learn your bodys limits, and dont force yourself to go past them no matter how much pressure youre getting from loved ones . Theres nothing wrong with saying, Sorry I cant go or Its time for me to go home, because Ive run out of spoons, points out CreakyJoints follower Jon Aumann. Here are more tips for handling social plans without the guilt.
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Hot And Cold Treatments
Using either heat or cold treatments can reduce the stiffness and pain of arthritis.
Cold packs numb the sore area. They are especially good for severe joint pain and swelling caused by a flare . Heat treatments relax your muscles. You can use dry heat methods such as a heating pad or heat lamp or moist heat methods, such as a bath or hydrocollator pack.
Adding Or Removing Some Bone Around A Joint
If you have osteoarthritis in your knees but youre not suitable for knee replacement surgery, you may be able to have an operation called an osteotomy. This involves your surgeon adding or removing a small section of bone either above or below your knee joint.
This helps realign your knee so your weight is no longer focused on the damaged part of your knee. An osteotomy can relieve symptoms of osteoarthritis, although you may still need knee replacement surgery eventually.
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Nerve Blocks And Other Injection Techniques
Injections to block pain are becoming more widely available. They usually combine a local anaesthetic with a steroid and act directly on a nerve. They’re not suitable for all types of pain, but they’re sometimes helpful for:
- osteoarthritis of the small joints between the bones of the spine
- compression of nerves in the lower spine.
Special scans such as magnetic resonance imaging or computerised tomography are often needed so the specialist can decide the exact site for the injection.
Physiotherapists, osteopaths and chiropractors may use a variety of different manual techniques, including:
- manipulation and stretching
- technologies such as ultrasound, laser or interferential treatment
- exercise programmes to strengthen muscles and improve general fitness.
It’s important to go to a qualified practitioner, preferably with the guidance of your doctor.
In some conditions, for example back pain, the Alexander technique may also help. The Alexander technique teaches awareness of posture and relaxation to reduce muscle tension.
Dont Sit For Long Periods
Especially if youre dealing with back pain, staying too sedentary could be contributing to the pain, says Dr. Torralba. We get a lot of patients who are doing desk jobs, and theyre constantly sitting, she says. They tend to forget that over time, sitting is bad for your back. She recommends getting up at least once an hour to do a bit of stretching by your desk.
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Starting An Exercise Program
Of course, understanding how exercise can help is just the beginning. Starting an exercise program is the next step and often the toughest.
Be sure to talk to your doctor first, especially if activity is painful for you or you have been sedentary for a long period of time.
Your doctor will talk to you about the types of exercises that would be best for you, depending on the location and severity of your arthritis. They may recommend a physical therapist to design an exercise program to meet your specific needs and safely get you moving again.
Your program should include three types of exercise:
- Range-of-motion exercises to improve your flexibility and reduce stiffness in your joints.
- Strengthening exercises to help build muscle mass and protect your joints
- Aerobic exercise to strengthen your heart and lungs, and to improve your overall fitness. Aerobic exercise is key to controlling your weight, as well.
Even if pain does not prevent you from exercising, it is a good idea to talk to your doctor about your fitness program before jumping in.
The quadriceps muscles in the front of the thigh help to support the knee joint. A step-up is a strengthening exercise for the quadriceps.
Managing Your Arthritis Pain Without Medication
Arthritis can be painful, debilitating, and disruptive. It can prevent you from doing what you love, and even force you to alter your daily routines.
Almost a quarter of all Americans some 55.4 million people have been diagnosed with arthritis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions National Center for Health Statistics. It is likely the actual number of arthritis sufferers is much larger, to account for all the undiagnosed cases.
So, what treatment methods can relieve arthritis pain? And for how long?
Medication, both over-the-counter and prescription-based, offers only temporary relief. While our first instinct may be to reach into the medicine cabinet to soothe our chronic joint pain, it is not an adequate or effective long-term strategy for those with arthritis.
Many doctors recommend that patients with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis first try other methods to quell the inflammation and joint pain theyre experiencing.
The good news is that there are a number of alternative, noninvasive treatment options to help relieve arthritis symptoms, such as:
To learn more about how you can manage your arthritis pain without taking medications, call Orthopaedic Associates at 892-1440 to request an appointment.
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Should I See A Doctor
Its common to have aches and pains in your muscles and joints from time to time. This may especially be true if you take part in unusual or strenuous physical activities.
So, how can you tell the difference between the early signs of arthritis and normal pain and stiffness? And, how do you know when you should see a doctor about your symptoms?
If you have swelling or stiffness that you cant explain and that doesnt go away in a few days, or if it becomes painful to touch your joints, you should see a doctor. The earlier you get a diagnosis and start the right type of treatment, the better the outcome will be.
Here are some other things to think about that might help you decide whether you need to see a doctor:
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Canola And Olive Oils
Skip the vegetable oil or corn oil and reach for these two varieties, which have a good balance of the omega-3 and omega-6 acids, both of which are essential fatty acids. Studies have found that a component in olive oil called oleocanthal has anti-inflammatory properties and is known to be especially good for heart health, too, Dunn says.
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Other Pain Management Techniques
If a joint is very swollen and painful, your doctor or therapist may suggest you use a splint to rest the joint . This helps reduce swelling and pain. Your doctor may recommend that you wear the splint during certain activities all day or only at night. This depends on how severe the swelling or pain is.
Getting a good night’s sleep restores your energy so you can better cope with the pain. It also rests your joints to reduce the pain and swelling. Only you know how much sleep your body needs, so get into the habit of listening to your body. If you feel tired and ache after lunch every day, for example, take a brief nap. This can help restore your energy and spirits.
If you have trouble sleeping at night, try relaxing quietly in the afternoon rather than taking a nap. Here are some other tips to help you sleep better:
- take a warm bath before going to bed
- listen to soothing music or a relaxation tape
- spend some quiet time by yourself before you go to bed
Do not take sleeping pills unless your doctor recommends them.
Massage and topical lotions
Massage increases blood flow and brings warmth to the sore area. You can massage your own muscles or you can ask your doctor to recommend a professional who is trained to give massages. If you have arthritis in your shoulders, elbows, wrists or fingers, you may not be able to give yourself a massage.
Tips for safe massage:
What Causes Arthritis Pain
Many different diseases and conditions cause chronic pain. One of the most common is arthritis, a group of diseases that cause inflammation of the joints. Other common types of chronic pain are backache, muscle pain, headache and sore feet.
Arthritis pain is caused by:
- inflammation, the process that causes the redness and swelling in your joints
- damage to joint tissues caused by the disease process or from wear and tear
- muscle strain caused by overworked muscles attempting to protect your joints from painful movements
- fatigue caused by the disease process which can make your pain seem worse and harder to handle
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Your Health Care Team
To help manage pain you may want to consult a primary care physician, nurse, pharmacist, physical therapist or other health care professional. You may be referred to a rheumatologist a doctor who specializes in treating arthritis.
Gaining control through communication
Even though pain may interfere with work relationships and daily life, few Americans talk to their doctors about it. Did you know:
- Fewer than half of Americans with severe or moderate pain report that they have a “great deal of control” over their pain.
- Fewer than half of people who visit their doctor for pain believe that their doctor completely understands how their pain makes them feel.
One of the best ways to gain control of pain is to talk to a doctor about it. Unlike a broken leg, pain cannot be seen in an x-ray or identified by a medical test. What a patient says may be the only way the doctor will know about the pain. And because people experience and respond to pain differently, how a patient describes pain is the best way for the doctor to understand what the patient is feeling. Only then can the doctor help the patient treat the pain.
Remember the patient and the doctor should share the same goal–reducing the patient’s pain.