If you have arthritis, you are not alone.
Usually, the first thing most individuals try is nonprescription medications (like Aspirin, Tylenol, Advil, or Aleve) for pain relief. If this doesn’t work, the pain may increase to the point that surgery becomes a possibility (joint repair or replacement).
How do you manage arthritis?
There is no one best way to manage arthritis pain and no single technique that is guaranteed to give you complete pain relief. In fact, a combination of methods works best. Think of arthritis pain management as a continuing journey. And this is your travel guide – you can pick your itinerary based on how your symptoms are.
Step 1: Learn about your arthritis pain
According to the American Pain Society, patient education is probably the most important step in pain management. Learn all you can about your arthritis so you can break down the mental roadblocks.
Exercise Is Your Answer.
Step 2: Restore your muscle balance
Regain posture. Proper posture is VERY important. Years of compensating for a sore/painful knee or hip can result in pain in the hip, knee, or ankle. Sitting slouched for hours, jutting the abdomen out when standing can lead to low back pain. Our therapists can observe how you sit, stand, and walk and teach you how to adjust your posture to decrease the stress on your joints and help you move with less pain.
Exercise. Regular exercise help strengthens joint-supporting muscles and improves flexibility. Our physical therapists specialize in arthritis treatment and suggest appropriate movements that provide a full range of motion. Physical activity also helps blood circulation through the body and around the joints, which helps bring oxygen and nutrients to help with the healing process. Also, did you know that losing 10 pounds of excess body weight takes roughly 30 to 60 pounds of pressure off the knee? So talk to one of our therapists to get you moving in the right direction!
Protect your joints. Sore joints can stop you from doing your daily activities like bathing, dressing, writing and driving. We help you find alternative ways to perform your activities by strategically integrating ‘rest periods’ and avoiding tasks that trigger joint pain and discomfort
Step 3: Do-it-yourself pain relief
In addition to doing your exercises (that we prescribe), here are a few things you can do in the comfort of your own home:
- Heat. Warming tissues eases arthritis pain by increasing blood flow to the affected joints. It can help relax tight muscles, eliminate waste products like lactic acid that cause stiffness and soreness. Here’s what you can do to increase the temperature of affected joints:
- Hot Bath or Jacuzzi
Caution: If you have cardiac problems or if you are over age 70 (as we age, our bodies do not regulate heat as efficiently) check with your doctor first.
- Hotpack Heating Pads
Caution: Although moist heat tends to be more effective than dry heat, you can use an electric heating pad. But be careful – it is estimated that 100,000 people burn themselves on it every year, so make sure you DON’T fall asleep with it on! Read the instructions before use. We can teach you exactly how to use a heating pad for the best results.
- Contrast Bath
Use warm water (110 deg F) and cold water (65 deg F) for areas like hands and feet. Put your hands/feet in warm water for 5 minutes, then in cold water for 1-2 minutes. Repeat this process up to 3 times to help decrease pain and swelling in the joint.
- Hot Bath or Jacuzzi
- Cold therapy.
This includes an ice pack, cold compression wraps, or ice massage. Cold therapy decreases the blood flow to the area to decrease swelling and reduce the brain's pain signals (making it less painful). After an acute flare-up, for the first 48-72 hours, use ice for up to 15-20 minutes to decrease pain and swelling.
- Rest. Be sure to rest the injured part. You can either relax your entire body or the joint specifically by wearing a brace to protect and support the joint.
Please feel free to pass on this newsletter to friends and family. You can also call our office at (215) 947-3443 to see the options we have to help you get relief from your arthritis pain.