A Guide to Living With Arthritis and Ways to Ease Pain
What Is Arthritis?
Arthritis is a condition that causes swelling, tenderness, and stiffness of the joints. This problem can be confusing because arthritis broadly refers to a range of joint health problems, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriatic arthritis.
The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis. This condition results in the breakdown of cartilage that cushions your joints. If left unattended, this can become so severe that your bones rub against each other – in addition to causing pain, stiffness, and a loss of flexibility.
Another prevalent form of arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis. In this disease, your immune system mistakenly attacks your joints, eventually wearing down the lining tissue that surrounds the moving parts. Over time, it can result in cartilage and bone destruction.
In some cases, chronic psoriasis might cause or worsen your arthritis. Although this illness primarily results in skin rashes and irritation, it can also impact the tissues within your joints.
Risk Factors of Arthritis
Illnesses aren’t the only risk factors associated with arthritis. You might also have increased chances of contracting arthritis if:
- You’re obese, which can place more strain on the joints in your legs and back.
- You’re a man, which raises your odds of contracting gout, a type of inflammatory arthritis associated with pain that typically impacts a single joint.
- You’re a woman, which places you at higher risk of rheumatoid arthritis.
- You’re an older person, which may make you more susceptible to osteoarthritis, gout, or rheumatoid arthritis.
- Your siblings or parents have some kind of arthritis known to be hereditary.
- You’ve got a history of joint injuries that increases your odds of arthritis in the affected areas.
Symptoms of Arthritis
The majority of arthritis sufferers experience some form of joint symptoms. For instance, you might experience:
- Pain when you move the affected joint.
- Joints that feel tender when you touch them.
- Difficulty moving, walking, or putting your weight down.
- Increased swelling after you rest in a sitting or standing position for a while.
- Feelings of warmth or heat around your joints.
- Swollen or reddened joints.
- Notable stiffness or a decreased range of motion.
Understanding Your Arthritic Symptoms
One of the issues with arthritis is that it can interfere with every aspect of your daily life. For instance, if you develop lower-body joint problems, you might have a hard time walking, standing, or even maintaining good posture while sitting. Your joints could also become misaligned, leading to gait abnormalities and a host of other complications.
Because these symptoms can occur with many other diseases – as well as multiple types of arthritis – they can be tough to understand and diagnose properly. It’s essential to talk to an expert before choosing a treatment plan, especially if you face other health issues.
Working with a caregiver can help you clear up the confusion by ruling out other potential health problems. For instance, your provider might recommend noninvasive diagnostic imaging to examine what’s going on inside your joints and definitively identify issues. In some cases, clinicians will advise laboratory testing to analyze your urine, blood, or joint fluid in search of the telltale chemical signs of different kinds of arthritis.
Treatments for Arthritis
According to the CDC, millions of Americans suffer from some form of arthritis or joint disease. The good thing about the prevalence of these conditions is that a lot of research has been done on treatment. As a result, patients have numerous options:
- Steroid injections help reduce inflammation in the joints. The efficacy and speed of the treatment depend on many factors, including your condition and the type of steroids you’re prescribed. It’s worth noting that steroid injections aren’t right for all patients and aren’t always a permanent solution since prolonged use can cause tissue damage.
- Pain relievers help to reduce arthritis pain. Although they can’t cure your arthritis, they may make it easier to live with.
- Anti-inflammatory drugs target swelling, and this can also have a pain-relieving effect.
- Wearing pads, arch supports, or custom orthotics in your shoes can help take pressure off your joints. Shoe inserts and orthotics can help soothe existing foot pain and offer structural ankle support.
- Using a cane or brace for support may help reduce joint pressure. It can also increase your stability, potentially reducing the likelihood of further injuries and irritation.
- Custom-fitted shoes may help take pressure off your joints and accommodate foot deformities related to your arthritis.
- Physical therapy helps strengthen the muscles around the joints, improving function and reducing the pressure you have to deal with daily.
Stretches You Can Do at Home to Ease Symptoms
Stretching regularly can be an effective way to manage arthritis pain. Here are a few suggestions:
Swing Your Legs
Grab something stable for balance. Swing one leg at a time back and forward as far as you can slowly and comfortably – even if this means your foot stays on the ground.
Flex Your Foot
Alternate between pointing your toes and pulling them back toward you.
Make Foot Circles
Raise one foot off the floor while grabbing something sturdy to keep your balance. Rotate your foot from the ankle so that your toes make little circles in the air, and then repeat the motion while rotating in the other direction. You can also try tracing out the letters of the alphabet with your toes.
Spread Your Toes
Sit down comfortably, resting your feet on the ground. Spread your toes apart as far as you can and hold the position for a few seconds. Do ten reps.
Stand on Your Toes
Grab onto a counter or chair to keep your balance. Without bending your knees, slowly lift onto your toes, and then gradually go back down. Repeat ten times.
Contact Us for Help
Arthritis can be a debilitating disease that gets worse with time. Whether your arthritis is causing you foot pain or other problems, ignoring it in the hopes it’ll improve by itself isn’t an option.
Reach out to our expert here at the Foot & Ankle Center of Oklahoma. Our office will help you find a treatment plan that fits your lifestyle – whether you prefer physical therapy, exercise, or other options. Book your next appointment online or call us at 405-418-2676 to get better informed about managing your arthritis.
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