If you suffer from arthritis or joint inflammation, you are probably all too familiar with the discomfort and pain that it can cause. With more than 100 different types of arthritis that exist, the symptoms you experience may vary from a mild annoyance that flares up occasionally, to a debilitating illness that greatly impacts your daily routine. No matter how your arthritis affects you, it is important to seek out the most appropriate treatment options that can help you to manage your condition so that you can focus your attention on other things.
- Get a diagnosis to find out what type of arthritis you have. Osteoarthritis is one of the most common forms, but there is also a wide range of other conditions that affect people, from a mild bout of tennis elbow to a severe case of rheumatoid arthritis.
- If you have a chronic condition like rheumatoid arthritis, regularly seeing a specialist is necessary to help your physician stay on top of your situation and allow you to be proactive in responding to changes.
- Whatever type of arthritis you experience, ask for suggestions on how best to treat your symptoms.
Go the traditional treatment route, which likely includes taking medications.
- Find out if anti-rheumatic drugs are a good option for you. These are medications that have been effective for some forms of inflammatory arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and psoriatic arthritis, and can actually slow down the progressive joint destruction.
- For osteoarthritis or other forms of the condition that cause discomfort, you might try taking anti-inflammatory medications, including ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin, Medipren and Nuprin to manage mild to moderate pain. Learn more about acetylsalicylic acid, such as Aspirin and Ecotrin, which also helps treat pain. For more severe pain, ask your doctor if taking a prescription pain killer for a short amount of time would be appropriate. You can also use non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in the form of a cream or lotion to rub on the affected area.
If traditional approaches are unappealing or haven't provided enough relief, natural therapies and alternative treatments, such as herbs and supplements, may also be an option for you.
- Research the range of choices available. Some of the types of remedies that people use for arthritis relief include primrose oil, devil's claw, capsaicin and avocado.
- In addition to adding supplements, you can also change your diet to see if this helps your condition. Try adding foods containing omega 3-fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory properties. You can also eat more vegetables, beans, fruits and canola, wheat germ and walnut oils.
- Many doctors aren't supportive of alternative treatment and may not help to guide you in making good choices. Check out the Physicians Desk Reference for Nonprescription Drugs, Dietary Supplements, and Herbs for some help in this area.
- Also make sure to purchase herbs or supplements manufactured by companies that you know, or ask for recommendations. Only purchase these items from reputable stores.
- You could also try acupuncture or spa treatments to see if they make a difference. Some people have found them to be quite effective.
Whether you prefer alternative or traditional Western medical methods, the following advice is relevant.
- In some cases, getting physical therapy can make a difference. This can help you with pain relief and healing. It can also help to restore lost function and improve your range of motion.
- Taking on a regular exercise routine may make sense. In addition to helping with your arthritis, this will also improve your fitness level and help control your weight. Swimming or doing exercise in warm water is helpful for some people.
- For osteoarthritis and other forms of the condition, you might consider a combination of different treatment approaches to see what works best for you.
- Many benefit from using sneakers with shock-absorbing soles, as well as splints, braces and even walkers, to relieve some of the stress on your joints.
- If none of the traditional or alternative treatment options you've tried provides enough relief, surgery may be necessary. If this is the case, talk to your doctor about the most appropriate form of surgery for your condition. Some of the common surgical options today include arthroscopy, osteotomy and joint replacement therapy.
- Stay on top of the latest treatment options and learn from others who have tried them through the Arthritis Health Center at Web MD. You can also sign up for an email newsletter on arthritis from this website and chat online with other patients.