Approximately one in five Americans are currently living with arthritis. Unfortunately, many people living with the debilitation condition will experience chronic pain, swelling, stiffness, impaired mobility and limb deformities. Yet, it is possible to manage the everyday symptoms to improve a person’s quality of life. Read about the best pain management techniques for arthritis.
Over-the-counter medications are often a person’s first point of call when living with minor arthritis pain and swelling. The best non-prescribed pain relievers are Tylenol, as well as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, aspirin and naproxen.
Non-prescribed medications are often not strong enough to treat arthritis for a long period of time. As the pain increases, a doctor may prescribe a patient with prescription NSAIDs to reduce the associated pain and swelling. Quite often they will prescribe Celebrex, Relafen, Feldene or a prescription ibuprofen or naproxen.
Tramadol is also a prescription painkiller, which has fewer side effects in comparison to NSAIDs and eases chronic pain. Yet, this prescription drug can potentially cause a physical drug dependency, so it should be consumed with caution.
Similar to tramadol, narcotics are strong painkillers designed to ease chronic pain, but can also be addictive. Those living with severe arthritis pain might be prescribed codeine, morphine, oxycodone, propoxyphene and meperidine.
A topical medication can be applied to painful areas of the joints to alleviate some arthritis symptoms, as they contain active ingredients such as menthol or capsaicin.
Hot and Cold Therapy
Applying heat or a cold compress to inflamed joints can potentially ease the pain and discomfort of arthritis. Ice is believed to be effective as it helps to restrict the blood vessels, which can reduce fluid in the joint tissues. As a result, it can decrease both pain and swelling. Apply ice wrapped in a towel onto the affected area for up to 20 minutes, several times each day.
Heat treatment works the same way. However, instead of using ice, apply a heat pad or hot water bottle to reduce swelling. This can be effective as heat helps to open blood vessels to improve your body’s circulation.
Medical marijuana has been legalised in 28 US states due to its ability to alleviate chronic pain. Many people living with rheumatoid arthritis have, therefore, turned to cannabis to ease their severe pain, which is believed to improve their quality of life. One woman leading the way for marijuana is Greta Carter, a former Citibank vice president turned cannabis farmer, who aims to provide “top shelf cannabis at an affordable price”, while providing training that ranges from patient care to business policy.
However, it’s not just in the US that patients are using cannabis for pain management. Approximately 65% of medical marijuana users in Canada state they are using the drug for severe arthritis. It is believed to be effective as cannabinoids can prevent the transmission of pain while decreasing inflammation, so it is a sought-after treatment for those living with painful joint problems.