While there are many forms of arthritis, the most common by far are osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Regardless of the type of arthritis with which you are diagnosed, you can expect there to be inflammation in the joints, causing them to stiffen up, swell, and hurt.
Here’s more about the OA and RA forms of arthritis and how to care for these orthopedic conditions.
How to Care for Osteoarthritis
The most common form of arthritis, osteoarthritis – OA – causes a breakdown of the ends of the bones in the joints. Also known as the “wear and tear” disease, OA occurs frequently in the hands, knees, and hips, but it can also be felt throughout the body. Other symptoms include formation of bone spurs, a grating sensation when joints are engaged, and a loss of flexibility and mobility.
A good way to treat OA is to prevent certain conditions from happening in the first place. For example, maintaining a healthy weight will take strain off your joints. If you are active in contact sports or a physically demanding job, wear protective gear and supportive shoes that cushion and absorb shock.
Consult your orthopedist to ensure that you are performing tasks and activities without adding strain or wear to your joints. Warm baths and anti-inflammatory medications can help relieve chronic aches and pains; staying hydrated is important, and therapeutic massage has been known to help. A healthy diet with minimal amounts of saturated fats, processed food, and sugars is also known to help reduce inflammation.
Caring for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Unlike the wear and tear of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s own tissues, affecting the synovial membrane surrounding the joints. Unlike OA, which usually affects a weakened or compromised joint, RA is known to attack multiple joints simultaneously – multiplying the pain and discomfort. Because RA is a chronic inflammatory condition, it can also affect the skin, eyes, lungs, heart, and blood vessels.
Like with OA, a good trick to deal with the pain of RA is learning to manage it. Anti-inflammatory medications help; controlling your environment can also help. For example, pollutants such as asbestos and silica may increase your risk of developing RA, especially if you work in construction or as a first responder.
Smoking increases your risk of RA, as does stress. Maintaining a healthy weight is important – as a matter of fact, since two out of three people suffering from RA are classified as obese, the reason could be that the fat tissue is releasing inflammatory cytokines.
Seeking Pain Management
Exercise, diet, and rest are all important when it comes to caring for your arthritic symptoms. But when the pain is too much to bear, you will need to see a medical professional.
Depending on your condition and symptoms, your orthopedic doctor may recommend steroid injection therapies. These are safe, minimally invasive procedures by which medication is injected into or around the affected painful area.
If these pain management treatments fail to alleviate your pain, your doctor may recommend surgical procedures.
Pain Management Specialists in North Dakota
If you have symptoms of arthritis, consider seeing an orthopedist who specializes in alleviating joint pain. Orthopedic physicians treat chronic pain of all kinds, such as that caused by arthritis.
If you are in or near the Dakotas, contact our team at The Bone & Joint Center today to schedule a consultation. Call us at (800) 424-2663 or request an appointment online, and let us help you stop arthritis pain in its tracks.