April News: Arthritis Pain

Arthritis Pain – YOU CAN MANAGE IT!

Good Everyday Ideas to Help Lessen Arthritis Pain

During the day, if you’ve been sitting, adjust your position frequently. Periodically tilt your neck from side to side. Bend and stretch your legs. Pace yourself. Take breaks so that you don’t over use a single joint and cause more pain. Stand up and walk around every 30 minutes. Try gentle exercise in the evening and you will feel less stiff in the morning. See a physical therapist to help you develop and exercise program that’s right for you. Call AW Health Care. Our physical therapists are trained to work with seniors experiencing pain problems. We can help right in your home to learn proper exercises.

Senior women looking concerned and massaging aching hand joints.

Dealing with arthritis pain?

Are You Dealing With Arthritis?

People most often develop osteoarthritis (OA). OA develops when the cartilage that pads the joints begins to wear away. Bones rub against each other causing pain and stiffness. OA most often occurs in the hands, neck, lower back, or the large weight-bearing joints of your body, such as knees and hips.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease, a type of illness that causes the body attack itself. RA causes pain, swelling, and stiffness in just one joint, or many different joints at the same time. Pain can last for hours and is sometimes accompanied by fatigue and fever. RA can also cause problems with the heart, muscles, blood ­vessels, nervous system and eyes.

Gout is a very painful kind of arthritis. It most often happens in the big toe, but other joints can also be affected. Swelling may cause the skin to pull tightly around the joint and make the area red or purple and very tender. Gout is caused by too much uric acid in the blood. Too much uric acid forms hard crystals in the joints which causes pain.

Medications That Treat Arthritis Pain

There are many different types of drugs used to treat arthritis pain which include over-the-counter and prescription-only drugs, injections, infusions, patches and topical agents:

  • Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs, like aspirin or Ibuprophen) treat mild muscle aches but arthritis patients take NSAIDS at higher does to reduce joint inflammation.
  • Analgesics (like Tylenol) fight pain but not inflammation; others called opioids may be used for arthritis flares; suitable for short term use because they cause physical dependence and constipation.

    Mature Asian man holding his painful elbow.

    Take you pain medicines as prescribed.

  • Corticosteroids fight inflammation and are taken orally as pills, absorbed through the skin as topical agents, or injected directly into inflamed joints.
  • Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDS like Methotrexate) suppress the body’s immune system and are effective treatments for rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and lupus. DMARDs are often taken with other medications like NSAIDs.
  • Biologics (like Xeljanz, Humira or Enbrel), called biologic response modifiers, also suppress the immune system and can stop joint damage from occurring. They do not cure arthritis but can put the disease into remission.
  • Antidepressants (like Cymbalta or Lyrica) can reduce pain because body chemicals that affect mood also affect pain.
  • Topicals are available in either over-the-counter or by prescription and come as a cream, gel, ointment, spray or patch, and are quick and convenient relief of localized pain.
  • Muscle Relaxants target pain caused by tight muscles or soft tissues but can cause drowsiness and dependence.
  • Nerve blocks, an injection like lidocaine, temporarily block severe pain caused by ganglion or plexus nerves

Make Some Smart Moves

Before starting any exercise program, check with your doctor first. The types of exercise best for you depend on the type of arthritis you have and which joints are involved. Regular physical activity not only reduces pain but enhances functional capacity and mood and is especially good for seniors. You may want to talk with a physical therapist too. AW Health Care has therapists on staff to help people develop an effective exercise program designed for individual needs. Call for free exercise assessment: (314) 330-7992.

Before you start, apply heat for 20 minutes. Heat can relax joints and muscles and relieve pain before exercise. Ice afterward. Apply ice to your joints as needed after activity, especially if there is any joint swelling. If you have rheumatoid arthritis, ask your doctor if you should exercise during flare-pus.

Range Of Motion: Will relieve stiffness and increase your ability to move your joints through their normal range of movement. Try to do daily or at least every other day.

Strengthening Exercise: Builds strong muscles that help support and protect your joints. Weight training will help you maintain your current muscle strength or increase it. Try to do these every other day. But if your joints are painful or you notice swelling, take a day off.

Women in swimming pool smiling and doing aquatic therapy with instructor.

Aquatic exercise can relieve pain.

Aerobic Exercise: Low-impact exercises that are easier on your joints include walking, riding a bike and swimming. People with osteoarthritis can benefit particularly from walking. Your joints will feel better after a good walk. Walking improves circulation which wards off heart disease, lowers blood pressure and strengthens the heart. Walking also increases muscle tone and lowers the risk of bone fractures by slowing the loss of bone mass. Try to do 10 minutes of walking twice a day, three days a week.

Other Activities: Gentle forms of Yoga and Tai Chi are slow graceful dance-like movements that can improve balance and help prevent falls.

Aquatic Exercise

Aquatic exercise is helpful for people just beginning to exercise, as well as those who are overweight. Aquatic exercise is performed in water about shoulder height. The water takes the pressure of body weight off the hips and knees in particular, while providing resistance for the muscles. Aquatic exercise relieves pain and improves daily function.

April Is Occupational Therapy Month

Get Help with Activities of Daily Living

Arthritis is a chronic disease, so it will continue and change over time. An occupational therapist can show you how to modify your home to reduce motions that may aggravate arthritis. They can recommend assistive devices to aid in tasks such as driving, bathing, dressing, housekeeping and certain work activities.

It’s Never Too Late – Contact Us!

Therapist working with senior woman on wrist and hand pain.

With therapy, pain can be treated without drugs.

Are you having trouble buttoning your shirt? Are simple daily tasks getting painful to perform? It’s never too late to seek help. Your primary care doctor can refer you.

You can contact AW Health Care for a home assessment. Call Us: (314) 330-7992. We can help you learn if an occupational therapist will benefit you. The therapy plan could include custom-fitting splints or supports that can ease stress on painful joints and help prevent deformity. The occupational therapist also teach you how to protect your joints by performing tasks in different ways.

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