Arthritis is a common condition characterized by inflammation of the joints. While there are different types of arthritis, a few common symptoms can help you to determine if you may have it. There are also several ways to treat arthritic conditions, so be sure to talk to your doctor. They can confirm if you have a form of arthritis or if it could be something else.
They can also tell you about your treatment options, such as the most trusted medications and procedures. You will also learn about therapies you can use at home like a laser for back pain, as well as a brace or belt.
Understand the Most Common Symptoms
There are a few telltale signs of arthritis. Along with joint inflammation, you will also feel pain or discomfort. The sensation may feel like a deep ache throughout the day. It is also possible that you feel more pain while walking. Other typical feelings include tension or stiffness in the affected area.
While you can get arthritis in nearly any joint of the body, some of the most common places to experience arthritis pain include your fingers, elbows, and back. The knees, shoulders, and neck are also susceptible. If you feel any of the sensations or symptoms above, it is time to do a physical examination of the area. This will help you confirm whether you need to discuss arthritis with a doctor.
Do a Physical Examination
If you suspect a certain joint is affected, it is time to perform a self-examination. Take a closer look at the area for redness or swelling. It may also be warm or tender when you touch it. These are just a few of the signs of osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA), which both need to be treated by a medical professional.
Pay attention to which joints are most uncomfortable, red, or swollen. Write this information down to bring to your doctor. They can compare your notes to their own physical examination that they perform at their office. These details will help your provider make a quicker and more accurate diagnosis.
Try Pain-Relieving Medications
Once your doctor makes a diagnosis, you will have a better idea of how to treat your arthritis. Many forms of the condition can be helped by painkillers or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Among the most popular pain-relieving drugs for arthritis is acetaminophen, which is available over the counter (OTC). Patients like it because it treats both symptoms of pain and inflammation in RA.
Another option is using an NSAID like ibuprofen or acetaminophen. These medications are available both OTC and with a prescription. There are potentially dangerous side effects of using painkillers and NSAIDs improperly, so it is important to follow the instructions provided by your physician.
Other options include prescription topical creams and gels. Rubbing these solutions on your muscles can help to temporarily relieve aching and discomfort. In cases of severe RA, a doctor may prescribe an opioid pain drug. Since they are habit-forming medicines, it is important that your provider watches you closely. You will also need to use complementary therapies to treat the swelling and inflammation at its source. Corticosteroids can reduce pain and damage caused by inflammation, but they are not usually recommended for long-term use.
Consider Drugs to Treat Inflammation
If you have a condition like RA, pain medications will only treat your symptoms of discomfort. They will not decrease inflammation and prevent damage to your joints over time. For this reason, it is important to consider disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) or biologics. DMARDs are important for patients because they help to slow the progression of joint problems. Talk to your doctor about the prescription that is right for your needs.
Biologics are injectable medications that work to block inflammatory pathways in the body. Tell your specialist if you have an infection or have a weakened immune system. Patients with these issues should not use biologics since they increase your risk of developing an infection. When DMARDs and biologics do not work, your doctor may prescribe you a kinase inhibitor, which also helps to stop damage to bodily joints and tissues.
Once you get severe pain and joint damage under control, it is time to invest in complementary therapies. Devices like a wrist brace, knee brace, or a laser therapy belt for back pain can help to support your muscles and joints. Some treatments can also help to encourage healing and further reduce pain and tension in your body.
Photobiomodulation therapy (PBMT), formerly often referred to as low-level laser therapy (LLLT), penetrates the skin to modulate pain and inflammation on the lower back, with no known side effects. Wear a laser therapy belt for just 30 minutes per day to reap the benefits of PBMT technology.
Depending on your type of arthritis, you may also be a candidate for massage therapy or physical therapy. Talk to your doctor to determine if relaxing, stretching, or strengthening your muscles can help to reduce your symptoms and keep you healthier. Search for complementary therapies that have no known side effects. This will ensure that you have no medication interactions. It will also help to keep you comfortable as you treat your arthritis and reduce chronic pain.
Treating Your Arthritis Pain
Arthritis pain can be challenging to treat, especially if you do not know that is where your discomfort is coming from. If you have any of the signs or symptoms of arthritis above, do not hesitate to make an appointment with your primary care physician. They can help you to evaluate your symptoms and determine if you need care from a specialist. They can also recommend how to care for your arthritis at home.