Managing Arthritis Pain
Chronic arthritis pain currently affects over 50 million Americans, making it one of the most widespread pain disorders in existence. If you are one of the millions of people dealing with persistent and often debilitating joint pain, the lack of a known cure can feel hopeless. However, a range of treatment options exist to promote arthritis joint pain relief. Most of these work by reducing chronic inflammation, not only decreases pain but slowing further joint damage to ensure a longer, healthier lifespan for your joints. Often, a combination of all approaches works best, combining medication, exercise and physical therapy along with other lifestyle changes to optimally promote health and relieve chronic pain.
Over the counter acetaminophen is a common pain reliever that can help reduce pain causing inflammation. Stronger narcotic pain relievers are often available by prescription for more severe pain relief. Topical medications such as gels, patches and prescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can be used locally to reduce inflammation and numbing the nerve endings close to the surface of the skin. These topical alternatives may pose fewer cardiovascular risks than oral medication and tend to be less habit-forming because the effects are limited to specific regions of the body.
Low impact exercise that promotes the strengthening of muscle tissue while minimizing pressure on the joints has been proven effective for mitigating the pain associated with all types of arthritis. Physical activity can also be an effective antidote to fatigue, another common side effect of arthritis. While working with a physical therapist is ideal, incorporating activity such as regular walking, low impact strength training, swimming and water aerobics two to three times a week can significantly improve quality of life.
Following an anti-inflammatory diet which includes foods high in omega-3 fatty acids such as fish and nuts, an emphasis on fresh vegetables and fruits and an avoidance of hydrogenated fats and oils, highly processed, fast foods and foods with high sugar content such as soda can go a long way in providing arthritis joint pain relief. An easy first step is to begin taking omega-3 supplements on a daily basis.
For overweight and obese arthritis sufferers, avoiding inflammation causing foods can also help you lose weight. Arthritis pain can be intensified by excess weight, which can put substantial added stress to already overworked joints. Keeping your body weight within a healthy range can go far in providing arthritis joint pain relief.
Physical and emotional stress are both highly linked to increases in physiological inflammation throughout the body. Engaging in enjoyable, stress reducing activities such as yoga, meditation or gardening can not only help you increase your daily physical activity, it can help you bring down chronic inflammation levels. Inadequate or irregular sleep schedules can also be major sources of physiological stress.
While the final cure for the many variants of arthritis has not yet been discovered, using a variety of pain management techniques can help you significantly reduce your pain and increase your standard of living for many years to come. Talk to your doctor today about what options may be best for you.