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Let’s understand the different types of Arthritis and their best treatment options with the help of common examples from our society.
Case 1: Ever since Hema crossed her 60th birthday, she has constantly had problems with her joints. She was gaining weight over the last 3 to 4 years and had been diagnosed with early diabetes. Earlier, she would walk up to 3km 2 days a week without any issue and climb up and down 2 flights of stairs, gradually the joints slowly started becoming stiff and painful with half of those. She then got diagnosed with osteoarthritis, which is an inflammation of joints which occurs with age. All body movement happens because the joints consisting of bones move with the help of tendons and ligaments. With age, these fibrous tissues lose their elasticity and become rigid and stiff.
Two years down the line, she is back to her normal workout and feels a lot more flexible. Her doctor advised her not just painkillers but lifestyle changes. Osteoarthritis, which is mainly associated with aging, can be treated in the following manner.
- Eat healthy, nutritious food. Women over 50 years of age should take calcium supplements. Avoid junk, processed, and packaged foods
- Exercise regularly: Though aging is supposed to slow down the pace of life, regular exercise, especially stretching the muscles and joints is essential to keep the bones and joints agile and functional. Not exercising can be a major risk for osteoarthritis.
- Physiotherapy: Once diagnosed with osteoarthritis, physical therapy is extremely helpful in restoring movement and reducing the rate of progression. Depending on the joints affected, a regime has to be drawn up and followed.
- Massage of the joints and bones with oils and creams is very helpful in improving circulation.
Case 2: Raj was perfectly normal until he slowly realized that his joints began to hurt during his routine walking and jogging. Not just the legs, even his hands, and arms were affected. The joints became swollen, warm, and painful. It was affecting joints on both sides and a detailed diagnosed revealed that he had rheumatoid arthritis.
This is an autoimmune condition which happens when the body produces antibody against its own tissue. The joints are affected, often on both sides, and they become stiff, tender, and red with a reduced range of motion.
Treating rheumatoid arthritis includes a combination of medications when required, lifestyle changes, exercise, and diet modifications.
- Medications to be taken as per advise of treating doctor.
- Exercise is directed at the affected joints and also to prevent stiffness of the other joints.
- Eating healthy foods including fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products, omega-3 fatty acids, etc.
For Dev who loved to be on his feet all day, the knee pain came as a big deterrent. It was not only physically painful, it was also emotionally stressful as it limited his movement. Walking down or up two flights of stairs would leave him bending down and tugging at his knees. The knee pain, which was diagnosed due to arthritis, was as a result of overexertion. His doctor told him to manage his workout properly and came up with a balanced exercise routine, which provided great relief. Now, he is back to his normal workout.
While most of us think of exercise as good, it has its own drawbacks too.
The knees are the most important joints that allow for movement of a person. The patella or the knee joint connects the thigh bone and the shin bone via a complicated knee joint is Hinge joint to allow for movement. However, knee pain can happen with the below reasons which can limit motion and cause pain and swelling.
- Autoimmune disorders
Whatever be the cause, knee pain limits movement. A detailed diagnosis including case history to discuss symptom pattern and imaging (if required) can help confirm the exact reason. A blood test may be required to confirm rheumatoid arthritis.
There are medications available for all these conditions – antibiotics for infections, anti-inflammatory for osteoarthritis, and immunomodulatory drugs for rheumatoid arthritis. However, for most people with knee pain, for best results, physical therapy should be a part of management.
While generic knee exercises are good too, depending on the affected area and the severity of the condition, specific exercises may be required. There also could be specifications around the frequency and duration of exercise.
The best workout for people with knee pain include:
- Stationary bike: This is highly effective for people with knee pain.
- Treadmill: Managed at a slow, rhythmic speed, it does wonders for the knee.
- Elliptical: this also is not hard on the knees and provides a good low-impact, aerobic workout.
- Get in touch with a physical therapist who can prescribe exercises for about 15 minutes daily which can keep the knee pain away.
- Leg stretches for about 10 repeats where the knee tendons and ligaments get nicely stretched and worked out
- Knee bends, knee extensions, knee stabilizations, and straight leg raise work on these joints and muscles.
While painkillers definitely help in relieving pain, the more effective way to manage knee pain is with physical therapy. It promotes blood flow, improves sensation, and keeps the tendons and ligaments agile – all enabling better knee movement with less pain. In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!
When simple activities like opening the door or lifting a bag of groceries tend to cause pain in the elbow, it can be a cause for concern. Taken for granted, the elbows assist in various movements and when pain limits their movement, it can be very distressful. That is what happened to John who had issues picking up his laptop. Trying to tightly close the water bottle would leave his elbows hurting. When he sought medical help, the doctor helped identify the exact location and cause of pain. What followed was a multi-pronged approach with medication and exercise. In about 3 months, the pain was almost gone and then it improved to a state where there is an absolutely painless movement now.
Most people with elbow pain (or any joint pain for that matter) also experience a reduced range of motion. While as a short-term measure, exercises can definitely reduce the pain and take care of the inflammation, the long-term approach should be to work on the overall health of the joints and bones.
- Overuse or repetitive stress injuries (RSI) causing either tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow. In either tennis or golf, the elbow joint is repeatedly subjected to a movement that causes strain on that muscle.
- An Infection: This could reach the elbow joint from the skin or develop within.
- Conditions like rheumatoid arthritis which affect the elbows and have no identified trigger.
Whatever the cause, pain medications provide immediate but temporary relief from pain and improve movement. Long-term requires exercises which will improve circulation, sensation, and restore movement to as close to normal as possible.
The following 4 steps help in managing elbow pain:
- Apply heat: A moist, warm towel or pad helps in improving circulation and helps in healing.
- Rest: While exercise is necessary for keeping the joints agile, rest after overuse is equally important. This along with heat allows the tissues to recover so they can jump back to optimal functional levels.
- Stretching: Repeat stretching for about 10 to 15 minutes 3 to 5 times per day will greatly help in restoring normal elbow movement. Of note, stretching should be done only after the initial pain is gone.
- Braces: To provide complete rest to the ligaments, a brace may be used which can also be applied for counter-traction and helps in healing.
Ignoring elbow pain in the early stages can lead to progression, so early intervention is advisable. In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!
Are you aware of a disease called osteoarthritis that is more likely to develop in case you are aging? Osteoarthritis is a disease, which affects the joints of your body. It occurs when the cartilages that protect and cushion your bones break down, causing swelling and pain, and may make you immobile. The chances of developing osteoarthritis increase with age as your cartilages start breaking down. There are several precautions you should follow for the prevention of osteoarthritis, especially if you are aged. They are as follows:
- Manage your occupational risks
- Certain jobs involve repetitive motions, which cause stress on your joints.
- If your job or occupation involves a lot of lifting, twisting, kneeling, and walking, you should consult a doctor.
- It is important for you to undertake exercises of low impact, which is very crucial for improving joint health, even if you are aging.
- You should choose activities that involve strength training along with stretching and aerobic exercise.
- Regular exercise helps in the slowing down or prevention of osteoarthritis. It helps you in maintaining healthy joints, reducing fatigue and pain, increasing your bone and muscle strength, and relieves stiffness.
- Maintaining a healthy body weight
- Excess weight is a primary risk factor for osteoarthritis, especially if you are aged. It causes extra stress on your joints that boosts the deterioration of your joint cartilage.
- If you are obese and overweight, your chances of developing osteoarthritis are more. Hence, you should lose extra weight for improving the symptoms.
- Although exercise is important for keeping your joints and muscles healthy, you should avoid overdoing them.
- Have a balanced lifestyle, and when your joints become achy or swollen, give them a break.
- Abstain from using your swollen joint for at least 12 to 24 hours after experiencing them. Letting your injured joint rest helps in reducing your risk of osteoarthritis.
- Fatigue increases pain in osteoarthritis patients, and hence you must sleep properly.
Treatment in case of osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis or degenerative arthritis can be treated by using a mix of treatment pedagogies, based on the severity of the condition. The treatment plan will focus on primarily on improving the mobility of the patient and reduction of pain.
1. Prescribing painkillers: As the first course of action, your doctor will prescribe you painkillers to reduce the pain caused by the onset of arthritis. It is advised that one should not self-medicate the pain for more than 10 days as they have certain side effects too.
2. Use of anti-inflammatory drugs: Corticosteroids or hyaluronic acid is generally used as an anti-inflammatory medication to control the inflammation caused due to osteoarthritis. Also, hyaluronic acid is a lubricating fluid present in the joints.
3. Use of braces: If required your doctor will ask you to wear a brace in order to support your knee. The brace can either be a supportive type or an unloader type.
4. Physical therapy: Use of physical therapy can also help in reducing the pain caused by osteoarthritis.
5. Surgery: If all else fails, surgery is the best option to treat osteoarthritis of the knee.
In spite of no specific cure for osteoarthritis, there are several ways of preventing and managing its symptoms. It is very important for you to maintain a healthy lifestyle and a balanced diet, and also to try and keep away from becoming obese.
In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!