Joint Series - Blog 2: What are my Treatment Options for Arthritis?
It's the most common cause of joint pain. It impacts one in every five American adults. And if you have it, you need answers about treatment options for arthritis.
If you read Blog #1 from this series on joint pain, you've probably landed here because you've determined that the discomfort you're experiencing is due to chronic arthritis. You've suffered long enough and now you're wondering, "What are my treatment options for arthritis?" We're glad you're here. We wrote this article specifically to address that question and to help you get you on the path toward pain relief and the return to a healthy, active life.
While there's no pretending that anything about arthritis is pleasant or good, there are a couple of positive things you can focus on as you take your first steps toward proactive treatment and pain management.
#1: There's Power in Numbers
First, know that you're not alone. The community of people in the U.S. alone that share and understand your pain numbers in the tens of millions. An estimated 52 million Americans are currently diagnosed with arthritis. That statistic comes to us from the research of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an organization that also predicts this number will rise to 67 million in the next 15 years.
That means that one out of every 5 American adults currently has doctor-diagnosed arthritis. And although this condition is often associated with the elderly, the reality is that almost two thirds of people with arthritis are under the age of 65.
It's no surprise then that arthritis is considered to be the leading cause of disability in this country.
#2: There's Relief in Treatment
With arthritis impacting the quality of life of millions of people each year, scientists, researchers and physicians are working harder than ever to develop effective treatment techniques and medications to address the various forms that arthritis can take.
Your arthritis may be degenerative joint disease, which is the kind that occurs due to the wear and tear on joints over years of use and the long term result of old injuries. Or, you may be suffering from a form of inflammatory arthritis, such as Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA), or Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS). These conditions are autoimmune disorders that cause chronic pain in multiple joints of the body.
Whatever form your arthritis takes, the bottom line is that the pain, swelling, inflammation and immobility that it produces has a negative impact on your everyday life. It's time to take action.
What are my Treatment Options for Arthritis?
Let's get right down to it. There are several ways that you can minimize your symptoms and learn to manage your condition as you pursue a healthy, active life.
Maintaining an appropriate weight for your height can do wonders for your body's overall health. One benefit of losing weight (when necessary) is that it will relieve any extra stress and pressure on the major joints you count on to bear your body's weight and facilitate movement. Losing weight isn't easy, but it's one thing that you have control over, and it's a practical way to be proactive in your own approach to treatment.
When you continue to be as active as possible, you not only keep your heart healthy (and help yourself be able to lose that extra weight we just talked about), but you encourage healthy circulation and build strength in the muscles and tendons that support (or surround) your joints. Obviously, some types of exercise will cause unnecessary pain and only aggravate your symptoms. Talk with a physician or a physical therapist about finding alternative methods that will allow you to still participate in some physical activity. Goal-setting Help: Perhaps your goal could be completing 20 minutes on a stationary bike each day or walking a total of 5 miles during the course of the week.
Remember that the best way to address your arthritis is to see a qualified physician, who can help you create a comprehensive treatment plan. It is always better to catch arthritis early, so don't put off that visit to the doctor's office!
One benefit of seeing a physician is that he or she will be able to prescribe the appropriate medications to effectively address the type and severity of your arthritis. For those with osteoarthritis (degenerative joint disease), basic, over the counter anti-inflammatories may be all that is needed. However, for patients with inflammatory arthritis, prescription medications are available and can prove very effective in not only managing pain, but in actually putting the disease into remission. Remember, medication alone - without the supporting lifestyle changes - will not be effective in managing arthritis long term.
A Note on Supplements as a Treatment Option for Arthritis
There's one more important topic to address in this conversation about treatment options for arthritis. If you've already heard the incredible claims made about the effectiveness of Chondroitin Sulfate and Glucosamine, then you know that these supplement producers are quick to target those suffering from arthritis.
We're not saying that these supplements aren't going to be helpful for you. They may be a great addition to a whole-picture treatment approach. However, we would caution you with just a few words of wisdom concerning supplements:
Ask your doctor! Ask which supplements to take (if any) and also which brands are best.
Take only the recommended amount. Following the dosing instructions of your doctor will help you avoid the possible side effects that come with supplements.
Read labels carefully and be aware of false advertising. Supplement producers cannot legally claim to treat, cure, diagnose or prevent any disease.
If you're experiencing severe, chronic pain or you've been suffering with pain in a joint for longer than you even want to think about, you may already be wondering about the possibility of surgical treatment.
While this option is obviously a more invasive approach, joint replacement surgery is considered to be a generally safe and effective option for addressing severe cases of arthritis. For more information on joint replacements, please visit us here or contact us at 1-800-321-9999. For other facts concerning where, when and how to get effective arthritis treatment, check out the rest of the articles in our series on joint pain:
- This is a center where patients can go the have their disabled joint biological resurfaced, realigned, and stabilized without having the joint replaced by artificial materials such as metal and plastic. It is well known that the outcomes of patients under the age of 50 undergoing artificial joint replacement are not as good as we would like. Therefore we feel the future of Orthopaedics is to try to restore a joint back to its original anatomy by realignment, ligament reconstruction, and cartilage restoration.Read More