Here's how you can ease pain of arthritis

Arthritis is one of the most common cause of pain and disability worldwide

Dr Puneet MashruUpdated: Friday, May 27, 2022, 11:36 AM IST
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The main symptoms of arthritis are joint pain and stiffness, you can find plenty of advice about easing the pain of arthritis and other conditions with exercise, medication and stress reduction. |

Arthritis is a condition describing inflammation of a joint, and applies to over 100 diseases that have been identified to date. Most of these diseases fall into one of two categories: degenerative arthritis such as osteoarthritis or inflammatory arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Arthritis is one of the most common cause of pain and disability worldwide. The main symptoms of arthritis are joint pain and stiffness, you can find plenty of advice about easing the pain of arthritis and other conditions with exercise, medication and stress reduction.

The following things can be done

Consult your doctor: It would be important to learn about your condition, including what type of arthritis you have and whether any of your joints are already damaged. Depending on the type of arthritis your doctor would prescribe disease modifying antirheumatic drugs, pain medications like paracetamol or NSAIDs.

Exercise: Appropriate physical activity can help reduce pain. It also keeps your joints moving, strengthens muscles to support your joints, reduces stress and improves sleep. Focus on stretching, range-of-motion exercises and gradual progressive strength training. Include low-impact aerobic exercise, such as walking, cycling or water exercises, to improve your mood and help control your weight. Consult a physiotherapist to help out with the right exercise program.

Use heat and cold: Use of heat, such as applying heating pads to aching joints, taking hot baths or showers, or immersing painful joints in warm paraffin wax, can help relieve pain temporarily. Be careful not to burn yourself. Use heating pads for no more than 20 minutes at a time.Use of cold, such as applying ice packs to sore muscles, can relieve pain and inflammation after strenuous exercise.

Manage weight. Being overweight can increase complications of arthritis and contribute to arthritis pain. Making incremental, permanent lifestyle changes resulting in gradual weight loss is often the most effective method of weight management

Take care of your joints and save energy Looking after your joints during your daily activities can help reduce pain, stress and tiredness. It involves simple habits such as: – avoiding activities that cause pain for example for knee pains avoid climbing stairs or sitting on the floor. Balance activity and rest, and don't overdo.

Massage Massage might improve pain and stiffness temporarily.

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS): A TENS machine applies very mild electric pulses to block pain messages going from the painful area to your brain. TENS can be useful for longer-term pain but does not work for all people.

Relaxation: Relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, guided imagery (mental pictures) and progressive muscle relaxation, can help you reduce stress and muscle tension. These techniques need to be practised and you may have to try several methods before you find one that works for you.

Rest and Sleep Well: While you are encouraged to exercise regularly and to keep moving, you should realize that rest is necessary, too. Your body requires periods of rest in order to recuperate, and resting a painful joint can relieve pain. Prolonged periods of rest can work against you, though, and can actually promote pain and weakness. Strive for a balance between rest and activity. Sleep disturbances are common with osteoarthritis, and researchers say that pain can lead to sleep disturbances, while poor sleep can exacerbate pain.

(Dr Puneet Mashru is Consultant Rheumatology, Jaslok Hospital and Research Centre)

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