Treatments for arthritis include rest and relaxation, exercise, proper diet, medication, and instruction about the proper use of joints and ways to conserve energy. Other treatments include the use of pain relief methods and assistive devices, such as splints or braces. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary. The doctor and the patient work together to develop a treatment plan that helps the patient maintain or improve his or her lifestyle. Treatment plans usually combine several types of treatment and vary depending on the rheumatic condition and the patient.
Joint Pain Relief: Rest, Exercise, and Diet
People who have a rheumatic disease should develop a comfortable balance between rest and activity. One sign of many rheumatic conditions is fatigue. Patients must pay attention to signals from their bodies. For example, when experiencing pain or fatigue, it is important to take a break and rest. Too much rest, however, may cause muscles and joints to become stiff.
Physical exercise can reduce joint pain and stiffness and increase flexibility, muscle strength, and endurance. It also helps with weight reduction and contributes to an improved sense of well-being. Before starting any exercise program, people with arthritis should talk with their doctor. People with arthritis can participate in a variety of sports and exercise programs. Exercises that doctors often recommend include:
* Range-of-motion exercises to help maintain normal joint movement, maintain or increase flexibility, and relieve stiffness.
* Strengthening exercises to maintain or increase muscle strength. Strong muscles help support and protect joints affected by arthritis.
* Aerobic or endurance exercises to improve cardiovascular fitness, help control weight, and improve overall well-being. Studies show that aerobic exercise can also reduce inflammation in some joints.
Joint Pain Relief: Well-Balanced Diet
Another important part of a treatment program is a well-balanced diet. Along with exercise, a well-balanced diet helps people manage their body weight and stay healthy. Weight control is important to people who have arthritis because extra weight puts extra pressure on some joints and can aggravate many types of arthritis. Diet is especially important for people who have gout. People with gout should avoid alcohol and foods that are high in purines, such as organ meats (liver, kidney), sardines, anchovies, and gravy.
Joint Pain Relief from Medications
A variety of medications are used to treat rheumatic diseases. The type of medication depends on the rheumatic disease and on the individual patient. At this time, the medications used to treat most rheumatic diseases do not provide a cure, but rather limit the symptoms of the disease. The one exception is treatments for infectious arthritis. If caught early enough, arthritis associated with an infection (such as Lyme disease) can usually be cured with antibiotics.
Medications commonly used to treat rheumatic diseases provide relief from pain and inflammation. In some cases, the medication may slow the course of the disease and prevent further damage to joints or other parts of the body.
~Reference: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases