Arthritis Pain Relief
What is arthritis pain?
Arthritis is the gradual deterioration of joints and surrounding tissue and fluid resulting in pain, swelling, and loss of functions of the joints. There are two main types of arthritis, each with unique underlying causes and symptoms:
This common medical condition results in the deterioration of joints and is estimated to affect over 20 million Americans. A degenerative joint disease, osteoarthritis commonly accompanies the aging process and deteriorates the joints and bones underneath and around the joints decreasing the synovial fluid. Early stages typically appear in the middle age years and progress over time.
Symptoms include a deep aching pain in the joint that worsens under weight bearing or movements, grinding of the joints in motion, swelling or enlargement of the joint, stiffness in the morning, and limited movement of the joints.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis:
This chronic disease is believed to be an autoimmune disease and affects about 1.3 million Americans, mostly women. Rheumatoid arthritis causes the body’s immune system to become confused and attach its own healthy tissues. While any organ can be involved, the most commonly affected areas are non-weight bearing joints such as the wrists, fingers, knees, ankles, and feet. The intense inflammatory reaction causes excruciating pain and deformities of the joints.
Symptoms include painful joints, fatigue, widespread muscle aches, morning stiffness that lasts more than one hour, loss of appetite, weakness, skin inflammation and redness. As the disease advances symptoms can include increased joint pain, limited joint range of motion, deformities and numbness of the hands and feet, anemia, and much more.
What causes arthritis pain?
In the case of osteoarthritis the typical aging process seems to be the main cause. The disease progresses where the joints may be completely worn away, resulting in considerable pain and deformity. With lack of activity the ligaments and muscles around the joints atrophy or diminish in size and strength. While the cause is not completely understood, the risk of developing osteoarthritis seems to increase based on family history, excessive wear and tear on the joints, previous joint injuries, obesity, and smoking.
The exact cause of rheumatoid arthritis is not known but it is believed that exposure to an infectious disease or toxic chemicals may be a trigger. There is also a genetic predisposition to develop rheumatoid arthritis in some families. The intensity of the disease may vary from mild to severe and may develop at any age. In preadolescent children, the disease is called juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.
How to treat arthritis pain?
For osteoarthritis there have been development in surgical joint replacement, especially the hips and knees, which can provide relief. However the majority still suffers with pain and limitations. Weight reduction, stop smoking, muscle strengthening, and vitamin supplements can reduce the affects of the disease.
There is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis but some new treatments have emerged, most directed toward controlling the effects of the immune system.
Standard treatments for both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis target the pain is over-the-counter and prescription narcotic and non-narcotic medications. These treatments are typically not sufficient for patients and have serious side effects such as sedation, nausea, constipation, and addiction. Extended use of over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen, naproxen, and acetaminophen, can cause stomach ulcers and kidney, heart, or liver failure.
Sudden severe pain, especially in the chest, arms, or head, pain associated with fever, numbness or weakness, or pain in any area of the body that does not resolve after a couple of weeks, should always be evaluated by a physician to be certain that other medical conditions, including heart disease, stroke, infections, or even cancer is not the underlying cause of pain.
What are nerve pain treatment alternatives?
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