Finding Comfort: Ways to Manage Arthritis Pain

Dr. Gangu Hiral Shivashankar, Consultant – Orthopedics, Aster Whitefield Hospital, Bangalore

Finding Comfort: Ways to Manage Arthritis Pain

The morning light brings a harsh awakening. A dull ache throbs throughout your joints, a relentless enemy that tightens its grip with every movement. Even the simplest tasks, like rising from bed or reaching for a toothbrush, become exercises in frustration. Arthritis is the culprit, robbing you of your once-fluid mobility. Its calling card: the breakdown of cartilage, the smooth surface that once allowed your joints to glide effortlessly. Now, each movement grinds against bone, a constant reminder of the battle raging within your body.

Arthritis isn't picky. It can strike anyone, but some people are more susceptible than others. Age is a major risk factor. As we grow older, our joints naturally wear down, like the treads on well-worn tires. People carrying extra weight are also at higher risk. The extra pounds put extra stress on the joints, like overloading a car. Repetitive movements or heavy lifting, common in some jobs and activities, can also contribute to arthritis. It's like giving your joints a workout every day, but without the benefit of building stronger muscles.

Arthritis is usually accompanied by pain in the joints, stiffness, swelling, and limited movement of a joint. This breakdown can limit your movement, making it hard to walk, grip objects, or simply perform daily tasks. The severity of these symptoms can vary depending on the type of arthritis, but one thing stays constant - early detection is key. By getting a diagnosis early, you can manage your condition and maintain a good quality of life.

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What is recommended?

To reach a definitive diagnosis, a review of your medical history and any past injuries becomes crucial. X-rays or blood tests might be necessary for a clearer picture. Once the individual has been diagnosed with arthritis, they can get started by adhering to the treatment suggested by the specialist. 

Arthritis patients can try gentle exercises and stretches at home to help alleviate pain and improve joint flexibility. Simple activities like walking, swimming, or cycling can help strengthen muscles and reduce stiffness. Stretching exercises targeting specific joints, such as wrist bends or knee lifts, can also be beneficial. It's essential to start slowly and gradually increase intensity, listening to the body, and avoiding movements that cause pain. Consulting a healthcare professional or physical therapist for personalized recommendations is advisable to ensure safety and effectiveness.

Certain foods and dietary changes can help reduce inflammation and ease arthritis pain. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, flaxseeds, and walnuts, have anti-inflammatory properties that can be beneficial. Additionally, incorporating plenty of fruits and vegetables, which are high in antioxidant and supplements like Aflapin, Collagen Type 2,  Astaxanthins. Curcumins and Boswellia extracts and vitamin D, can help support overall joint health. Some people find relief by avoiding processed foods, sugary snacks, and foods high in saturated fats, as these can contribute to inflammation. Smoking should be given up.

There are several practical tips for managing arthritis pain during daily activities like cooking, cleaning, or working. Using ergonomic tools and utensils with larger handles can make tasks easier on the joints. Taking frequent breaks and pacing oneself can help prevent overexertion and fatigue. It's also important to use proper body mechanics, such as lifting with the legs instead of the back, and to modify tasks as needed to reduce strain on affected joints. Additionally, using assistive devices like reachers or jar openers can make daily activities more manageable.

Maintaining a healthy weight is important for arthritis patients because extra weight puts added pressure on the joints, leading to increased pain and discomfort. Simple strategies for weight management include eating a balanced diet along with exercise like swimming, yoga and pilates and Chinese Tai-Chi. It's essential to set realistic goals and make gradual changes to promote long-term success in weight management.

In reducing arthritis pain, both hot and cold therapy can be effective. Muscle relaxation and increased blood circulation to the affected area, which may relieve rigidity and decrease pain, are included in heat therapy through such things as the employment of heating pads or warm towels. When applied to numbness an ice pack or a cold compress can reduce inflammation thus giving some relief from painfulness and swelling temporarily. For avoiding burns or frostbites one should be careful while using either of them too often not exceeding 15-20 minutes per application is advisable.

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Many regenerative treatment options are available I the armamentarium to treat Osteoarthritis that include but not limited to Supplements C II. Viscosupplements that have high molecular weight Hyaluronic acid that are available through animal and non animal sources are a great choices in early OA that can be repeated once yearly to prolong the need for surgical intervention. Abdominal Fat graft VSF vascular stromal fractions that contains Stem cells have shown promise in improving cartilage regeneration and thickness with long lasting pain relief and improve joint mobility. Likewise PRP Platelets concentrates have a place in pain relief and limited regenerative potential.

Minimally invasive percutaneous procedures such as Genicular Nerve Thermofrequency Laser Ablation has entered the market for significant pain relief even though it doesn’t address the cartilage itself. We have tried this technique with good esrly results.

There exists a wide range of gadgets and devices designed for people with arthritis that can help them live better lives. Jar openers, reachers, ergonomic utensils, and tools as well as adaptive grips for household items are some examples of these things. Most of these medical aids can be bought from the local supply store for medical equipment or pharmacy around your area but you can also find them on different online stores if need be. Occupational therapists might also advise about what assistive device should one go for depending on their individual needs so it would be wise to consult one before making any purchase decisions in this regard.

Arthritis is a battle, but it doesn't have to win. With proper management and a focus on maintaining mobility, you can live a fulfilling life with arthritis. Experiencing sudden, unbearable pain should prompt immediate medical attention as it could indicate an underlying or worsening condition that needs urgent treatment. Consulting a healthcare professional will enable one to identify why symptoms are worsening and what should be done about them.

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