What can you do for arthritis?
- Consult a doctor who will determine the type of arthritis you have
- Rest the joint until the pain subsides to prevent further inflammation
- To ease the pain or stiffness of the joint, apply heat on the joint for about 15 minutes once or twice a day using a hot water bottle, towel or an infrared lamp
- Take painkillers or anti-inflammatories, as recommended by your doctor
- If you are overweight, try to reduce weight to lighten the load on weight-bearing joints
- Participate in regular exercise
What can your doctor do for you?
There is no cure for arthritis, so beware of ‘miracle cures’. Your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medicine. They may recommend occupational therapy or physiotherapy, which includes exercises and heat treatment. In severe cases, surgery may be suggested, such as a hip or knee replacement. The type of surgery will depend on your age and severity of the disease. In the elderly with severe arthritis, joint replacement can give good results.
Initial treatment for osteoarthritis of the hip or knee is conservative, consisting of rest, avoidance of vigorous weight bearing activities, and the use of non-narcotic analgesic and or anti-inflammatory medications. With worsening symptoms a cane or a knee brace may be helpful
For more severe symptoms, an injection of cortisone into the joint is frequently advised and can be quite helpful. When conservative measures have been exhausted and are no longer helpful, and the arthritis has become disabling, surgery may be recommended
Treatment of osteoarthritis focuses on decreasing pain and improving joint movement, and may include:
- Exercises to keep joints flexible and improve muscle strength
- Many different medications are used to control pain, including corticosteroids and NSAIDs
- Glucocorticoids injected into joints that are inflamed and not responsive to NSAIDS
- For mild pain without inflammation, acetaminophen may be used
- Heat/cold therapy for temporary pain relief
- Joint protection to prevent strain or stress on painful joints
- Surgery (sometimes) to relieve chronic pain in damaged joints
- Weight control to prevent extra stress on weight-bearing joints
Does exercise really help?
Exercise is very important because it increases lubrication of the joints and strengthens the surrounding muscles, putting less stress on joints. Exercise in heated swimming pools- hydrotherapy- can bring enormous relief from pain and stiffness. Also, studies have shown that exercise helps people with arthritis by reducing joint pain and stiffness and increasing flexibility, muscle strength and energy. It also helps with weight reduction and offers an improved sense of well-being.
Can special diets treat arthritis?
- But what if you have arthritis – are diet and nutrition still such a simple matter?
- Can what you eat cure your arthritis? Can food prevent it from occurring?
- Are there foods that can cause your arthritis to ‘flare’ or go into remission?
- What role do vitamins and nutritional supplements play in the treatment of arthritis?
- Will losing (or gaining) weight help ease your symptoms?
- Will taking powerful anti-arthritic medications affect your appetite or your ability to eat certain foods?
These are the sorts of questions that people with arthritis often ask, and they are valid questions. Some questions (Can what you eat cure your arthritis?) have simple answers (No). Some questions (Are there foods that can cause your arthritis to ‘flare’ or go into remission?) are not so straightforward (Perhaps…).
Most of what you need to know about diet and nutrition is common sense; healthy eating is pretty much the same for anyone, whether you have arthritis or not. But, there are exceptions.