THE FACTS ON ARTHRITIS & JOINT PAIN:
WHAT IS ARTHRITIS?
Many people think that arthritis is a specific condition but it’s actually a general term for joint disease or joint pain and in fact, there are over 100 different types of arthritis in addition to conditions related to arthritis. It’s a complex health issue with many different variables.
Although arthritis is often associated with an older population and there are types of arthritis that are more common among older adults, anyone, even young people can be affected. Arthritis can afflict both genders but it’s more common in women than in men.
Arthritis symptoms can vary depending on the type of arthritis and the individual involved. The most common symptoms include:
- Joint pain
- Joint inflammation
- Joint stiffness
- Reduced range of motion
In some cases, symptoms such as stiffness, inflammation and pain in joints progress gradually over time, leading to a debilitating situation with advanced age. In other cases, painful arthritis symptoms come and go over the years. There may be long stretches with no issues and then the symptoms may crop up again, eventually worsening later in life.
Some of the most common types of arthritis include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis.
- Osteoarthritis: is the most common type of arthritis. Also referred to as OA, osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease of the joints affecting primarily the knees, hips and hands. There may also be arthritis pain in the foot. OA occurs when cartilage in the joints breaks down. Cartilage is connective tissue that protects bones and joints, absorbing shock and preventing bones from rubbing against each other during movement. Symptoms of osteoarthritis include pain, stiffness and swelling. The symptoms typically develop gradually and worsen over time.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis: is an autoimmune disorder. Also called RA, rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the body’s immune system attacks healthy cells, primarily in the joints. The joints most often affected by RA include the hands, knees and wrists. It’s also common to experience foot pain from rheumatoid arthritis.RA tends to cause arthritic pain, inflammation and swelling in more than one joint, frequently affecting the same joint on both sides of the body.
- Psoriatic Arthritis: is an inflammatory disease that primarily affects the skin and joints. The joints most commonly affected are the knees, ankles, wrists and fingers. Psoriatic arthritis foot pain can also occur.
HOW IS ARTHRITIS DIAGNOSED?
Arthritis is diagnosed with the help of a number of different tools, including physical examination, laboratory tests and imaging.
- Physical exam — During a physical exam, your doctor will observe your joints for signs of inflammation. They may also want to observe how much range of motion you have in your joints.
- Imaging tests — X-rays are the most common type of imaging used to diagnose arthritis but your doctor may order other types as well, including computerized tomography (CT), ultrasound imaging and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
- Laboratory tests — Your doctor may want to take samples of bodily fluids for testing in order to help with diagnosing arthritis. These include urine, fluid from joints and blood.
HOW TO MANAGE ARTHRITIS PAIN?
In some cases, arthritis pain can be effectively managed with lifestyle changes and at-home remedies.
- Exercise — It’s important to get and stay active when you have arthritis. Physical activity can help reduce stiffness and improve range of motion. Opt for low-impact activities like walking, swimming and cycling to avoid stressing tender joints. Be sure to speak to your doctor before starting an exercise program.
- Maintain a healthy weight — Excess weight can contribute to arthritis pain since extra pounds put stress on the joints of the lower body. Losing even small amounts of weight can reduce pressure on sore joints.
- Hot and cold therapy — Alternating a heating pad with ice packs can be helpful for relieving arthritis pain.
- Massage — Light-pressure massage can help relax muscles, increase circulation and ease pain and stiffness associated with arthritis.
- Orthotics — Wearing orthotics with your shoes can help reduce stress on painful joints in the lower body. Dr. Scholl’s® Knee Pain Relief Orthotics are specially designed for people suffering from knee pain, including osteoarthritis knee pain. They stabilize the knee and absorb shock to provide arthritis knee pain relief. Dr. Scholl’s® Pain Relief Orthotics for Arthritis Pain provide long-lasting relief from osteoarthritis pain. They’re especially helpful for arthritis foot pain as well as arthritis pains in the knees and hips.
HOW TO TREAT ARTHRITIS PAIN?
Doctors often recommend conservative treatments for arthritis pain as a first step.
- Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and Naproxen sodium (Aleve) can help relieve arthritis pain and reduce inflammation. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) can help provide joint pain relief but it won’t help with inflammation.
- Topical pain relievers — You can apply over-the-counter topical pain relievers directly to tender joints. Topical creams and gels may contain a number of different ingredients, including diclofenac sodium, which is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. Dr. Scholl’s® Arthritis Pain Reliever contains 1% diclofenac sodium and penetrates deeply to target pain right at the source. The fast-absorbing gel is easy to use and doesn’t leave a greasy residue.
If over-the-counter products don’t provide adequate relief from arthritis pain, talk to your doctor. You may require stronger treatments such as prescription medications and corticosteroid injections.