Whether it’s dull ache, a sharp shooting pain, or a painful burning sensation, chronic arthritis pain is a degenerative condition that affects joints and the surrounding and connective tissues. The term Arthritis is generically used to refer to more than 100 different types of rheumatic diseases and conditions from rheumatoid arthritis and lupus to fibromyalgia and gout.
Many people believe that arthritis is the result of inflammation. While there are many forms of arthritis caused by inflammation, what you may not know is that osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, is not believed to be the result of inflammation.
Arthritis & Inflammation
Arthritis resulting from inflammation is usually caused by an autoimmune disease. The body’s immune system is designed to trigger an inflammatory response to protect us from infection. Sometimes, the inflammatory response is triggered when there are no infections to defend against. The following are just a few of the many types of arthritis resulting from autoimmune diseases:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Psoriatic arthritis
- Gouty arthritis
- Systemic lupus erythematosus
In contrast, Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative arthritis, results when joint cartilage breaks down. Cartilage is the tough but flexible connective tissue that functions as a cushion between bones. When cartilage degenerates, bones begin to rub together. Over time, this friction can cause permanent joint damage, resulting in osteoarthritis. As you would expect, because osteoarthritis is the result of wear and tear on joints, the condition often worsens with age. Symptoms of osteoarthritis include stiffness, pain, swelling, and reduced motion in joints. It can occur in any joint, but is most common in the hands, knees, hips and spine.
The following factors are a few factors that may contribute towards a higher risk of osteoarthritis:
- Family history or genetic makeup
- A physically demanding job, especially one with repetitive movements
- A previous injury
- Obesity, which places extra strain on joints can lead to arthritis
- For many, seasonal weather changes like we are having now make symptoms worse
How Will Arthritis Affect Me?
Arthritis affects people in many different ways. Arthritis sufferers usually find there are good and bad days. Most patients with arthritis will suffer from discomfort, pain, stiffness and/or fatigue.
You may find yourself unable to grip things as firmly as you used to or you may feel frustrated that you can no longer get around like you used to. It is important to remember that if you suffer from arthritis this does not mean you have to give up having an active lifestyle. With some changes to your way of life there is no reason why you cannot continue being active.
Options for Arthritis Pain Relief
Today, there many effective options for managing arthritis pain. Yes – some of these methods include various pills and pharmaceuticals – but we are going to focus on healthy, pill-free alternatives for pain management. The most common types of noninvasive, nonaddictive pain-relief therapies for joint pain include:
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
This therapy option utilizes a low-voltage electrical current to deliver mild electrical pulses to the skin, which stimulates nerve fibers in the skin. Many experts believe that this stimulation interferes with the transmission of pain signals from the arthritic joint. Although research trials studying the effectiveness of TENS therapy is not conclusive, TENS has proved to be a popular form of pain relief with many people.
Heat and Cold Therapies
Two of the simplest and most effective methods of relieving arthritis pain are heat and cold therapies, according to the Arthritis Foundation. Applying heat and cold stimulates the natural healing force of the body and can help to mitigate arthritis pain and stiffness.
Which is better for arthritis pain, heat or cold? Experts disagree. Some arthritis suffers believe hot therapy soothes their stiff joints. Others prefer the pain numbing effect of cold therapy on painful joints. Fortunately, today’s most popular options, like FrozenPeaz, provide both hot and cold therapy relief in a single product.
Topical Creams & Gels
For centuries, ointments, creams, and liniments have been rubbed into sore joints to relieve pain. The most popular of these remedies fall into three primary categories: aspirin-like, menthol (cooling), and capsican (heating).
Since these topical pain medications are absorbed through the skin, these options are best suited to joints that are close to the skin’s surface, such as hands and knees.
What’s the Answer for Arthritis Pain?
Although medical science shows that all of the above options provide relatively low risk, pill-free options that may reduce pain and inflammation, arthritis pain is different for everyone. It is no surprise that medical experts and arthritis suffers have differing opinions on which of the above options offer the most relief for pain and stiffness. There are no easy answers or magic solutions to relieve arthritis pain. What works for some people may not work for others. The best thing to do is to experiment with different methods and combinations of methods to find the pain management recipe that provides you the most relief. Don’t forget lifestyle changes that can improve arthritis symptoms like diet, exercise, and weight loss.