Is Your Arthritis Being a Pain?

As we get older, arthritis becomes a more prevalent and bothersome part of life, as some of you have already discovered. Arthritis is basically just wear and tear of your joints. But that does not mean that you have to settle for a drastically different quality of life! Let’s learn more about arthritis and what YOU can do about it.

The two main types of arthritis are Osteoarthritis (OA) and Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). OA is the breakdown of protective cartilage at the ends of bones. This means that eventually your bones may start grinding together, causing joint pain, stiffness, swelling, redness, warmth, and limited range of motion. That breakdown usually just comes with age, but the process might be hastened by a joint injury or infection.

RA, on the other hand, is an autoimmune disorder that attacks your joints’ synovial membranes. The membrane that normally lubricates your joints becomes inflamed, causing pain, swelling, and eventual erosion of cartilage and bone (often seen as deformed or enlarged hand/finger joints).

The most popular conservative treatments include medications and therapy. Medications can decrease your pain, reduce inflammation, or slow your immune system to decrease the effects of RA. Therapy helps improve your range of motion and increase the strength around your joints.

Physical therapy gets you moving safely and effectively. PT’s can help improve your posture and train you in good body mechanics. Therapeutic exercises help decrease pain and increase your mobility for daily activities. A PT can expertly recommend braces, splints, and inserts that relieve stress on your legs as well as then instruct you in their use. They can also suggest certain assistive devices and provide gait training with those devices. PT’s might even suggest certain modifications in your home, like using a cushioned kitchen mat or buying a raised toilet seat.

Even though actual treatments are important for managing your arthritis, there are several lifestyle changes that you can make to greatly improve your quality of life! Lose that extra weight, as obesity causes extra stress on the body’s joints. Exercise and complete your home program consistently, as strength and bodily adaptation occur over time. Also, use the recommended assistive devices to make walking a little bit easier and help you continue with your regular activities!

In addition, you can even practice your own hot/cold therapy. You may have to experiment and see which works best for you. For heat therapy, you can take a warm shower/bath for morning stiffness, use paraffin wax for hands and feet, soak in a whirlpool, use a heating pad with a cloth next to the skin for up to 20 minutes, rub mineral oil over hand joints, or slip on some rubber dish washing gloves and dip your hands into hot water for 5 to 10 minutes. For cold therapy, you can use a bag of ice or frozen peas/corn wrapped in towel for 20 minutes or less, buy a cold gel pack so that it’s more flexible, make your own pack by mixing 1 cup of rubbing alcohol with 2 cups of water and pouring into a Ziploc, or dip your affected joint into an ice bath.

The important thing to remember is that arthritis happens to most everybody, but it doesn’t have to make your life miserable! There are things you can do and help you can get to take good care of your body and improve your quality of life! So go ahead and ask your doctor about these options or call Galloway Therapy if you’d like to make an appointment! (501-319-7659)

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