Arthritis

Arthritis can be distracting. Distressing. And disheartening. It can make you hesitant. It can frustrate — and even prevent — you from doing all the things you love to do. It is, quite literally, a pain. There are more than 100 different types of arthritis. The most common are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

The good news is that you can live — and live well — with arthritis. You can get relief from its pain and its consequences. One of the best and effective ways to combat arthritis pain is simple: exercise. Regular exercise not only helps maintain joint function, but also relieves stiffness and decreases pain and fatigue. Other ways to ease arthritis pain include medications, physical therapy, joint replacement surgery, and some alternative or complementary procedures.

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. It starts with the deterioration of cartilage, the flexible tissue lining joints. The space between bones gradually narrows and the bone surfaces change shape. Over time, this leads to joint damage and pain. The symptoms of osteoarthritis usually develop over many years. The first sign is often joint pain after strenuous activity or overusing a joint. Joints may be stiff in the morning, but loosen up after a few minutes of movement. Or the joint may be mildly tender, and movement may cause a crackling or grating sensation.

Osteoarthritis was long considered a natural consequence of aging, the result of gradual wearing down of cartilage. The cause of osteoarthritis is much more complex than simple wear and tear. External factors, such as injuries, can initiate chronic cartilage breakdown. Inactivity and excess weight can also trigger the problem or make it worse. Genetic factors can affect how quickly it gets worse.

There is currently no cure for osteoarthritis. But there are effective treatments that can greatly improve a person's quality of life by relieving pain, protecting joints, and increasing range of motion in the affected joint. Therapy usually involves a combination of nondrug treatments such as heat, ice, and exercise; medication for pain and inflammation; and the use of assistive devices such as canes or walkers. In some cases, more aggressive treatment with surgery or joint replacement may be needed.

Arthritis Articles

Supplements for rheumatoid arthritis

Living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) requires more than just finding the right medications. Many people with RA find they are able to protect their joints and reduce discomfort through alternative and complementary therapies, including dietary supplements. Research suggests that omega-3 fatty acids, found in cold-water fish such as salmon, tuna, herring, sardines, and mackerel, have anti-inflammatory properties. You can get omega-3 fatty acids by eating more fish or by taking fish oil supplements. Studies in which people with rheumatoid arthritis took fish oil supplements found that fish oil may help with tender joints and stiffness and may reduce the need to take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medications. One study found that RA sufferers who took 10 grams (about 2 teaspoons) of cod-liver oil a day for nine months were able to reduce their daily intake of NSAIDs by more than a third. Be careful when using fish oil. Fish oil supplements may increase the risk for bleeding, especially in people who take medications to reduce blood clotting (anticoagulants). Talk to your doctor before taking fish oil supplements or greatly increasing your intake of fish. More »

Osteoarthritis relief without more pills

For mild osteoarthritis, an occasional dose of an over-the-counter pain reliever may be all that’s needed to keep the pain and stiffness associated with osteoarthritis in check. But as osteoarthritis gets worse, men may become interested in ways to cope with pain and other symptoms without taking more medications. The main options are weight control, exercise, and physical therapy, especially for knee and hip arthritis. Some physical therapists offer additional services, such as ultrasound and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) . Some people with osteoarthritis find acupuncture helpful. The evidence for “joint support” dietary supplements, in contrast, is poor. More »

Could that leg pain be peripheral artery disease?

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is marked by leg pain or fatigue that develops after a person has been walking or climbing stairs for a few minutes. It develops when atherosclerosis has narrowed the arteries carrying oxygen-rich blood to the leg muscles. People who have PAD must quit smoking, as well as get high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes under control. Treatment for PAD is often as simple as a walking program but may include surgery to improve blood flow. (Locked) More »

When are opioids safe to take?

Opioids can be safe for relieving severe, acute pain following surgery or injury. Tolerance, dependence, or addiction can arise when they are used for longer periods, for example, in treating pain from arthritis, fibromyalgia, or other chronic conditions. (Locked) More »

Gout

Gout is a painful condition caused by too much uric acid in the blood and tissues. When the level of uric acid is too high, this substance can form tiny crystals that lodge in joints, causing joint pain. Uric acid crystals can also lodge in the kidneys, causing kidney stones. A related condition called pseudogout occurs when crystals of calcium accumulate in joints. Gout occurs for three main reasons: Gout runs in some families. Among younger individuals, it affects men far more often than women. This gap shrinks among older men and women. More »

Relief for hand arthritis

Osteoarthritis in the hands is treated primarily with medication to control pain and inflammation. In addition, seeing a certified hand therapist can also be very helpful for minimizing pain and remaining functional. Hand therapists offer a range of services, including fitting braces and splints and advising on how to alter work habits to protect the affected joints. (Locked) More »

"Joint support" supplements for arthritis

Many “joint support” dietary supplements and herbal remedies are available, but there is no strong proof that they reduce pain and cartilage loss from osteoarthritis. The most widely used products contain glucosamine and/or chondroitin sulfate, but well-done clinical trials have failed to document a benefit. Joint support supplements may also contain dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), and S-adenosyl-L-methionine SAMe, as well as avocado-soybean unsaponifiables (ASU) or the herb Boswellia serrata. Such products are not evaluated as rigorously for safety, including reactions with other drugs, as are pharmaceuticals. In contrast, exercise can help reduce pain and maintain physical function. Fitness programs to build strength, flexibility, and aerobic capacity seem to work best. More »

Can diet improve arthritis symptoms?

By: Linda Antinoro, R.D., L.D.N., J.D., C.D.E., Brigham and Women's Hospital, a Harvard affiliated hospital Through the centuries, many claims have been made about the influence of dietary habits and nutritional supplements on arthritis. Some of these claims are supported by medical evidence and some are reasonable theories. However, for most of these claims, we are just not sure. Even without all the proof, there are many healthy nutritional ideas that you can consider. More »