Arthritis, or joint inflammation, affects 24 percent of all adults in the United States. That’s more than 58 million Americans.
Joint pain often occurs with other diseases, like diabetes or obesity, but even arthritis alone can make it difficult to enjoy life. Luckily, there are many ways to manage joint inflammation.
Medication and Surgery
Many who suffer from arthritis pain use medications to help relieve symptoms of inflammation.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen or aspirin, can relieve pain and inflammation. Cox-2 medications (a newer type of NSAIDs) and acetaminophen (Tylenol) are also options. For more severe symptoms, your physician may prescribe opioids, biologics, or other, stronger drugs.
The downside of medication is the potential for side effects. For example, the side effects of NSAIDs include heartburn, nausea, and, in worse cases, an increased risk of heart attacks or strokes. Opioids can cause drowsiness, constipation, and nausea, and can be habit-forming.
In extreme cases, you may be a candidate for joint surgery, with the two most common being hip and knee surgery. Depending on your need, there are eight different options for your joint procedures ranging from arthroscopy to total joint replacement. Before exploring any of these options, talk to a doctor to get a professional opinion.
Diet and Exercises
Medications and surgery aren’t your only options. Living a healthier lifestyle, specifically losing weight, can ease the strain on your joints. The CDC recommends at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week to reduce joint pain. Strength training and low impact exercises, like swimming or walking, can also reduce pain and swelling. In fact, exercise may delay or even prevent the need for surgery down the road.
Diet is another aspect of healthy living that can help you deal with the effects of arthritis. Many foods have anti-inflammatory properties that can relieve some pain and swelling. Fatty fish like salmon are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce inflammation. Many arthritis-fighting foods are high in fiber, while antioxidant-rich foods can also help.
On the flip side, there are also foods that can lead to inflammation. Avoiding red meat, margarine, soda, and fried foods are all parts of an anti-inflammatory diet.
Medical and lifestyle changes aren’t your only options when combating inflammation. A cane can be your best friend when dealing with arthritis. Not only will a cane help you avoid falls and keep you steady, it decreases the weight on your joints, causing less pain.
Additionally, items like braces and compression wraps can support the joint, while reducing pain and inflammation. There’s also a host of devices that you can install in your home that’ll help you live with joint pain.
● ● ●
With so many Americans suffering from arthritis and joint pain, it’s no surprise that there’s such a clamor for relief. After all, the annual medical costs of arthritis are around $128 billion. If your life is impacted by joint pain, we recommend having a conversation with your physician.
Next, finding health insurance coverage that lines up with your needs and lifestyle becomes important. With so many options to choose from, finding a solution to your arthritis has never been more achievable.
Arthritis Foundation — Living with Arthritis