The good news is, it’s 2020, and with this new decade comes advances in pain management techniques that are all-natural and found to be effective by many arthritis sufferers.
The pain is often so uncomfortable that it affects their quality of life. When it comes to managing arthritis pain, there are plenty of options. Some of these arthritis pain management techniques work, and some don’t. That’s why arthritis sufferers should experiment with different pain management methods to see what works for them. Often, it’s a combination of treatment methods that ends up working for them.
Arthritis is One of the Most Common Causes of Chronic Pain
Many people suffer with chronic pain on a daily basis, and a variety of diseases and conditions could be the cause of chronic pain all over a person’s body.
One of the most common causes of chronic pain, however, is arthritis. Arthritis is pain caused by inflammation of the joints.
An estimated 54.4 million people (an astounding 22%) in the United States have been diagnosed with some type of arthritis, as cited by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Unfortunately, the prevalence of arthritis is on the rise, partially due to the aging population and widespread obesity crisis among all age groups. (Laidman, 2013)
Even without taking aging and obesity into account, arthritis can strike through auto-immune diseases, such as Lupus, Fibromyalgia, and some heart conditions.
Sadly, by the year 2040 the total number of physician-diagnosed arthritis patients is expected to reach over 78 million. With such a rise expected, what can be done to assist all of these sufferers with arthritis pain management? And can anything be done to prevent the onset of arthritis?
Arthritis PreventionUnfortunately, there isn’t a lot that can be done to avoid an arthritis condition completely. There are some steps that can help slow its progression or prevent it, such as taking the following measures:
- Eat Fish. Fish high in Omega-3 fatty acids are known to slow the rate of inflammation and thus the rate of arthritis. Wild caught salmon, trout, mackerel, and sardines are among the best because they are especially high in omega-3 fatty acids.
- Try Shedding Some Weight. Everyone is sick of hearing about weight loss, but weight loss and proper nutrition can dramatically reduce the risk of developing arthritis. Why? Because being just 10 pounds overweight adds 30-60 pounds worth of pressure to each joint. The extra weight causes one’s joints to work overtime.
- Exercise. Walking or exercising each day, even for just twenty minutes, not only helps with weight management but also gets one’s joints moving. Exercise gives joints more mobility (and less stiffness) so that people are less prone to being diagnosed with arthritis, especially at an early age.
- Protect the Joints. Another time-tested concept is learning to lift and carry things properly, in order to protect the joints. When joints are overused or used improperly, injury and strain will most likely be the result. Even with proper joint protection, however, arthritis may develop over time especially if arthritis runs in someone’s family history.
Diagnosis, Pain Management, and Treatment of ArthritisArthritis is highly prevalent and extremely common, but it is not well understood. Once diagnosis occurs, there are many things to be done to preserve an arthritis sufferer’s current quality of life. The first step is learning as much as they can about the disease. Research and understand various treatment options. Treatments generally start at the pain level, since pain is the most commonly lamented symptom. Once a person is diagnosed with arthritis, it’s very important that they educate themself on the various arthritis pain management methods – both traditional methods and alternative methods. It’s not just the uncomfortable chronic pain that arthritis sufferers have to deal with, though. Certain types of arthritis (i.e. Rheumatoid arthritis) can cause permanent visible physical joint changes, such as limb deformities. These visible deformities often appear in fingers or knees and develop with excessive swelling. Many times, however, damage from arthritis is only visible with an X-ray. This damage is often due to uncontrolled inflammation and when not treated properly it can cause stress to other areas of the body. The physical pain they experience is just one side-effect. Chronic pain due to arthritis often results in ongoing sleep issues, fatigue, anxiety, and even depression. So those struggles often become extra side-effects of arthritis. Pain affects one’s life, very negatively, which is why managing the pain should be a top priority.
Doctor-Prescribed Treatments for Arthritis – Do They Work?After an official diagnosis of arthritis from a doctor, a quick progression of appointments with a team of healthcare professionals may help determine the best treatment plan for uncomfortable arthritis symptoms. There are a number of ways doctors will help patients cope with pain. Most frequently, doctors prescribe pain medication (prescription drugs). The side-effects of these prescription drugs may be unpleasant. A cocktail of drugs may be prescribed to you, based on the severity of your pain level and other symptoms you may be experiencing. One of the most impactful parts of your diagnosis will be how you choose to react. Self-managing the physical and emotional effects are a huge part of living with arthritis. Everyone is affected differently, and everyone has different pain levels, so it is important for you to take charge of your treatment (along with the consultation of your doctor) and learn what helps you thrive. For most people living with arthritis, chronic pain is your constant unwanted companion, but there are things that can be done to help increase your quality of life. In other words, there are ways to manage the pain.
Arthritis Pain Management: Alternative and Natural Treatment MethodsWhat are some of the best alternative, natural and holistic methods for arthritis pain management? For one thing, your mindset matters. The right mindset can be a helpful (and natural) pain management technique. Many people successfully managing chronic arthritis pain, find that choosing a positive attitude significantly increases their ability to cope with pain. If pain gets in the way of the things you once enjoyed, it’s important to find alternatives to the things that you currently enjoy in order to keep your spirits high. Aside from maintaining a healthy mindset, below are some other effective, alternative, and holistic pain management therapies that you could try:
CBT TherapyOne treatment that has been known to help arthritis sufferers cope emotionally while struggling with arthritis is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is a talk-therapy that works by changing negative thought patterns. Remember that if your mindset becomes more positive, it could help you manage the pain. Similar arthritis pain management methods include mind-body techniques. Mind-body techniques are natural pain management methods that include breathing techniques, meditation, Tai Chi, and yoga to ease both physical and emotional arthritic pain.
An Active LifestyleStaying active may be the last thing one feels like doing when experiencing daily pain. However, I’ve noticed that all my physical therapists said it’s an essential part of arthritis pain management. When you participate in muscle-strengthening and core-strengthening exercises, support for your injured and swollen joints improves. Doing these types of exercises can also help increase your mobility and range of motion. Exercise can even improve mood and sleep, and help you shed excess pounds, putting less pressure on weight-bearing joints.
RestIronically, while for some patients, more activity helps with pain management, there are other arthritis patients that tend to cope better when cutting back on their current active lifestyle. In other words, rest can be the key when arthritis is active and joints feel painful, swollen, or stiff. Your usual activities may not be as easy as they used to be before you had arthritis. Remember to pace yourself and take breaks when needed. I’m not advising you to rest too much or lead an overly sedentary lifestyle. Stay active, but don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to take on extra activities that may lead to more stress on your joints and psyche.
Massage TherapyAnother way to receive the rest, support, and pain-reduction necessary when struggling with arthritis is to receive massage therapy. Physical therapists can teach you massage techniques to practice on yourself, but it’s even better to visit a massage therapist. Massage can decrease your pain, improve your mood, improve your circulation, and promote relaxation. Massage reduces stress on your entire body and mind.
Healthy, Balanced DietMaintaining a healthy diet, especially when combined with exercise, can help with achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. Talk to a doctor or healthcare professional about appropriate diet and exercise for the maintenance of a healthy stable weight. There are plenty of foods that are anti-inflammatory in nature. Eat plenty of vegetables, fresh fruits, whole grains, nuts, and lean protein. Avoid processed foods, red meat, and sugary drinks. In other words, try to avoid eating foods that cause inflammation. Some of the inflammatory foods to avoid include the following:
- Vegetables with inflammatory properties such as eggplant, tomatoes, and peppers.
- Salt and other preservatives
- Sugar, and sugar substitutes
- Fish – due to their high amount of omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, tuna, herring, and mackerel) are the most prevalent in these properties.
- Fruits (especially blueberries, strawberries and cherries)
- Dark green vegetables (try spinach, broccoli and brussel sprouts)
- Whole grains
- Nuts and beans (eat almonds, soybeans and walnuts)
- Healthy oils (use extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, sunflower oil)
- Green tea