Is Arthritis Pain Holding You Back?
Wednesday, October 25, 2017
In general terms, arthritis means inflammation in a joint. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. Rarely seen below age 40 it is seen in nearly everyone as we approach “old age." It can occur in any joint but most commonly affects the hands, feet, knees and hips. Over time or with repetitive injuries the cartilage (cushion) between the bones wears down resulting in pain and formation of bone spurs. Symptoms are pain, stiffness, some loss of joint motion and architectural changes to the affected joint.
OA is diagnoses by symptoms, history and x-ray findings. This can be seen in family groups as well. One diagnostic feature is called Heberden’s nodes, a bone nodule on the distal joint of the finger(s). There is no lab work that is diagnostic of OA and blood work is done to rule-out other causes. Morning stiffness and stiffness with rest are a common feature but the stiffness will improve with movement. Besides age, other risk factors include obesity, diabetes, some occupations (i.e. carpet layer, roofer, carpenter) and sports (i.e. football, soccer, dancing) and traumatic injury to a joint (i.e. fractures, dislocations).
Treatment can vary depending on the severity of the pain. Moderate activity and exercise can help improve joint function, relieve stiffness and decrease pain. Exercise needs to be modified to the patient. Water aerobics and yoga have been shown to be very helpful. Acetaminophen can help with the pain but never more than 2500mg daily to prevent liver damage. NSAIDs like Motrin® or Aleve® reduce inflammation and control pain. Chronic NSAID use has a significant risk of death/injury from gastrointestinal bleeding, cardiac events and kidney damage. Turmeric is an Indian spice used in curry but it has anti-inflammatory properties. Found to reduce inflammation and pain in arthritis patients at doses of 800-3000mg daily. It too can have some GI effects of indigestion and diarrhea.
The goal of current research in OA is to develop a medication with adequate pain control but none of the side effects of acetaminophen or NSAIDs. Sterling Research conducts numerous studies for patients with OA. You could be a medical hero by helping to create a newer and safer medication regimen. To see if you qualify call us at 513-621-5221.
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