Education

Arthritis: Managing pain and mobility

Pain is the way your body tells you that something is wrong. Most types of arthritis cause pain in your joints. You might have trouble moving around. Some kinds of arthritis can affect different parts of your body. So, along with pain in your joints, you may:

•   have a fever
•   lose weight
•   have trouble breathing
•   get a rash or itch

These symptoms may also be signs of other illnesses.

How do I start Arthritis treatment?

Go see a doctor. Many people use herbs or medicines that you can buy without a prescription for pain. You should tell your doctor if you do. Only a doctor can tell if you have arthritis or a related condition and what to do about it. It's important not to wait.

You'll need to tell the doctor how you feel and where you hurt. The doctor will examine you and may take x rays (pictures) of your bones or joints. The x rays don't hurt and aren't dangerous. You may also have to give a little blood for tests that will help the doctor decide what kind of arthritis you may have.

How will the doctor help?

After the doctor knows what kind of arthritis you have, he or she will talk with you about the best method of arthritis treatment. The doctor may give you a prescription for medicine that will help with the pain, stiffness, and inflammation. Health insurance or public assistance may help you pay for the medicine, doctor visits, tests, and x rays.

How should I use Arthritis medicine?

Before you leave the doctor's office, make sure you ask about the best way to take the medicine the doctor prescribes. For example, you may need to take some medicines with milk, or you may need to eat something just before or after taking them, to make sure they don't upset your stomach.

You should also ask how often to take the medicine or to put cream on the spots that bother you. Creams might make your skin and joints feel better. Sometimes, though, they can make your skin burn or break out in a rash. If this happens, call the doctor.

What if I Still hurt?

Sometimes you might still have pain after using your medicine. Here are some things to try:

•   Take a warm shower.
•   Do some gentle stretching exercises.
•   Use an ice pack on the sore area.
•   Rest the sore joint.

If you still hurt after using your medicine correctly and doing one or more of these things, call your doctor. Another kind of medicine might work better for you. Some people can also benefit from surgery, such as joint replacement.

Arthritis can damage your joints, internal organs, and skin. There are things you can do to keep the damage from getting worse. They might also make you feel better:

•   Try to keep your weight down. Too much weight can make your knees and hips hurt.
•   Exercise. Moving all of your joints will help you. The doctor or nurse can show you how to move more easily. Going for a walk every day will help, too.
•   Take your medicines when and how you are supposed to. They can help reduce pain and stiffness.
•   Try taking a warm shower in the morning.
•   See your doctor regularly.
•   Seek information that can help you.

Categorized in: Arthritis, Pain Management