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How to Handle Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain?

Dr. Gautam Das 92% (1132 ratings)
MD, FIPP
Pain Management Specialist, Kolkata  •  31 years experience
How to Handle Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain?

Arthritis is an autoimmune disorder wherein, the immune system of the body attacks healthy tissues within the various joints of the body. This causes inflammation of the joints, leading to multiple problems in them. One common issue with all the problems is pain. Thus, managing pain with rheumatoid arthritis is one of the most important facets of the treatment. More than the deformities or other problems, it is the pain that limits your capabilities. Some techniques for the management of pain are mentioned below.

  1. Pain medication: This is the obvious and first choice to avail if you need to reduce pain. There are many types and levels of pain medications which can range anywhere from being mild to very strong. However, this isn’t an option that should be considered lightly as you may have a tendency to develop a dependency which can border on addiction. Also, many of them harm the hepatic and renal system of the body if used beyond a certain period. Thus it is advisable to use this prudently.
  2. Weight management: In many cases, the pain is exacerbated by obesity. It has been noticed that obese or overweight people tend to suffer more from arthritis pain as the added weight tends to add pressure on the joints. Thus, one of the best ways to reduce a significant amount of pain would be to reduce weight through dieting and limited exercises that don’t strain the joints. However, it is easier said than done as a person in pain cannot usually exercise! So, the best strategy is to visit a pain specialist / interventional pain physician and get your pain controlled. Thereafter, start the exercises and reduce the weight effectively.
  3. Medication for inflammation: Inflammation of the joints is the primary symptom of this disorder. Inflammation is also what causes the pain within the joints. Thus, treating the inflammation with relevant medication has also been known to reduce pain. This is usually the first option to go to for relieving arthritis pain. The catch point here is also the side effect profile of these drugs.
  4. Changes in Diet: A few type of foods, especially certain fish found in colder waters are a rich source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which are very good at reducing inflammation within the joints. There are also certain food items which may be bad for your arthritis pain as they may aggravate inflammation and it is better to avoid such items altogether. Some examples of such items would be sugar, alcohol, white flour, processed meats, gluten rich foods among others.
  5. Massages: Whether it is a self-massage or from a therapist, it is a great way to encourage circulation which can help reduce inflammation and work as a pain reliever. A therapist would also know certain specific techniques to relieve arthritis pain. However, most of the times, improper massage shall do more harm than good.
  6. Interventional Pain Procedures: These may often be the most cost effective and usually the only option to reduce pain. These include joint injections, neurotomies, radio frequency therapy, laser therapy, ozone therapy, platelet rich plasma or anti-inflammatory injections.
  7. Other therapies: Some other therapies include heat and cold compress, acupuncture, wearing supportive wears and braces among others to encourage circulation and reduce pain. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation also helps to relieve pain by stimulating the affected nerves in the joints with the help of a low voltage electric current. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a Pain Management Specialist.
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