Treatment of Arthritis

There is a common misconception that arthritis is just a disease of the old. However arthritis has been known to affect even children. While it is true that many older people have arthritis, the disease consists of a variety of conditions ranging from ‘tennis elbow’ to the usual osteoarthritis.

The common symptom for these conditions is joint and muscoloskeletal pain. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. It means that the immune system attacks the healthy joints. It causes pain, swelling, stiffness, and loss of function in the joints. It has several special features that make it different from other kinds of arthritis.

How does arthritis affect people?

There are some lucky people whose arthritis lasts from a few months to a year or two without causing any noticeable damage.

Other people have mild or moderate forms of the disease, with periods of worsening symptoms, called flares, and periods in which they feel better, called remissions. The unlucky few have a severe form of the disease that is active most of the times, lasts for many years or a lifetime, and leads to serious joint damage and disability.

While there are forms of arthritis that are incurable like rheumatoid arthritis, there are certain activities and treatments that can help prevent serious deformity and can help you cope with the pain.

Healthy Diet

With the exception of several specific types of oils, there is no scientific evidence that any specific foods or nutrients helps or harms people with arthritis.

However, an overall nutritious diet with enough- but not an excess of calories, protein, and calcium are important. Some people may need to be careful about drinking alcoholic beverages because of the medications they are taking for arthritis.

Exercise

Exercise is important for maintaining healthy and strong muscles, preserving joint mobility, and maintaining flexibility.

Exercise can also help people sleep well, reduce pain, maintain a positive attitude, and lose weight. The exercise programs you choose should take in account your level of pain, physical abilities, limitations and changing needs.

Rest

People with arthritis need a good balance between rest and exercise, with more rest when the disease is active and more exercise when it is not. Rest helps to reduce active joint inflammation and pain to fight fatigue.

The length of time for rest will vary from person to person, but in general, shorter rest breaks every now and then are more helpful than long times spent in bed.

If you are fatigued at odd times of the time even if you had a relatively good night’s sleep, then you are most likely not getting enough sleep.

Joint Care

Some people find using a splint for a short time around a painful joint reduces pain and swelling by supporting the joint and letting it rest. Splints are used mostly on wrists and hands, but also on ankles and feet.

A doctor or a physical or occupational therapist can help a person choose a splint and make sure it fits properly.

Relaxation

Relaxation can be an effective way of dealing with the pain from arthritis. People with arthritis face emotional challenges as well as physical ones.

The emotions they feel because of the disease: fear, anger, and frustration, combined with any pain and physical limitations can increase their stress level.

Relaxation training helps you release some of that stress. As the muscles relaxes, your body releases endorphins- pain relieving hormones. There are a number of relaxation techniques available but most of them have meditation at its heart.

It is up to you as to which relaxation technique to adopt but it shouldn’t rely too much on outside influences. It’s best if you can do this technique by yourself without a therapist or the use of specialized equipment.

Heat and Cold

Heat and cold are both effective methods of reducing the pain and stiffness brought about by arthritis. Heat promotes blood circulation while cold soothes nerve cells and reduces swelling in the inflamed joint.

You will have to experiment which treatment is best for you as different people react in different ways to heat and cold. You could alternate both hot and cold treatment for maximum effectiveness.

Acupuncture

As a way to employ alternative treatments, you could try acupuncture. Acupuncture is a holistic medical system that has been practiced in China for thousands of years. It is based on the concept that the body is a web of interconnecting energy lines. A disruption to this flow of energy causes disease.

The acupuncturist inserts needles at the meridian of these energy lines and restores the healthy flow of energy. Many people have attested to the effectiveness of acupuncture in relieving pain. There is no scientific evidence to back these claims but you are free to try it for yourself.

Just remember to choose a respectable acupuncturist who uses clean needles. Ensure that both your doctor and acupuncturist know your condition and the treatments you are getting.