8 Proven Treatments for Arthritis Pain

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    8 Proven Treatments for Arthritis Pain
    Achy knees? Stiff fingers? Painful hips? Unfortunately, there’s still no cure for arthritis. But there are plenty of steps you can take to manage joint pain. The first is to work closely with your doctor to develop a treatment plan. Second, learn as much as you can about your condition and how you can manage any discomfort. Read on to discover 10 top techniques for easing arthritis pain.



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    #1. Get Daily Exercise
    Daily exercise is a key part of arthritis treatment. Focus on range-of-motion exercises to keep muscles and joints flexible, as well as aerobic exercises to promote heart health and help manage weight. Walking, swimming, bicycling, and cross-country skiing are all good options. And don’t forget strengthening exercises, which build supporting muscles so they can absorb stress on your joints and keep them stable.



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    #2. Lose Weight
    Excess weight can put stress on weight-bearing joints and increase wear and tear on the cartilage and underlying bone tissue. Research has found a connection between obesity and osteoarthritis of the knee and hips. And because overweight people often are less active, they’re susceptible to joint stiffening.If you’re 10 pounds or more overweight, try to slim down by exercising and eating a healthy, balanced, low-fat diet.



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    #3. Common Medications: Analgesics and NSAIDs
    Many drugs are used to treat arthritis. Analgesics, such as acetaminophen, reduce pain but not inflammation. Prescription analgesics include tramadol and opiates such as codeine, hydrocodone, and oxycodone. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) relieve pain and inflammation by slowing down the body’s production of prostaglandins. The most commonly used over-the-counter NSAIDs are aspirin and ibuprofen. Stronger NSAIDS may be available by prescription.



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    #4. Common Medications: Corticosteroids
    These potent anti-inflammatory medications provide pain relief. However, they may cause troublesome side effects with long-term use, such as calcium loss from bone, weight gain, cataracts, and abnormalities in glucose regulation. They’re given only under a doctor’s close supervision.



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    #5. Curb Stress
    Research has shown that people with arthritis benefit from educational programs that teach them how to stay active, control pain, and manage stress. They get up to 80% more relief from pain and joint tenderness than they can from using medication alone. Smart stress-lowering tactics include yoga, meditation, and massage.



  • woman with neck pain
    #6. Try Heat and Cold
    Applying heat or cold can temporarily reduce arthritis pain. This treatment is especially helpful before and after exercise. Most people with arthritis respond more positively to cold packs than to heat when active inflammation is producing severe pain and joint swelling.



  • physical therapist with shoulder patient and theraband
    #7. Explore Physical and Occupational Therapy
    Physical therapists can show you muscle-strengthening and range-of-motion exercises. They also teach ways to control pain without medication. Occupational therapists teach people how to reduce strain on joints and use self-help devices for tasks such as driving, bathing, dressing, and housekeeping.



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    #8. Know Your Surgical Options
    When other treatments don’t work, people with severe arthritis may need joint replacement or joint resurfacing procedures performed by an orthopedic surgeon. About 770,000 American adults have a hip or knee replaced each year, and artificial shoulders, ankles, and other joints are also available. You doctor can discuss the pros and cons and explain if surgery is right for you.



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8 Proven Treatments for Arthritis Pain

  1. Rheumatoid Arthritis. Arthritis Foundation. http://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/types/rheumatoid-arthritis/
  2. Handout on Health: Osteoarthritis. National Institutes of Health. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. http://www.niams.nih.gov/health_info/osteoarthritis/default.asp
  3. Arthritis and Rheumatic Diseases. National Institutes of Health. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Arthritis/arthritis_rheumatic.asp
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Last Review Date: 2019 May 20
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