You have likely heard the medical term “arthritis” in a general sense to describe muscle and joint pain. Typically afflicting those of a higher age bracket, arthritis can be a nuisance for people of all ages and walks of life. While it has its generalizations, there is no running from arthritis pain when it feels like rearing its ugly face.
Let’s talk about what arthritis is and what it feels like.
What is Arthritis?
Known to especially affect those over the age of 50 in a general sense, it is an ailment characterized by the stiffness and overall discomfort of the joints. Typically, the knees, hands and hips seem to be the most prevalent areas of pain as they are used the most in the body and take on the most strain. On a broad level, there’s a generalization about what and how it affects the body, but there are actually several types of arthritis which may be characterized by varying symptoms or treatments.
- Inflammatory Arthritis: The cause of this type of arthritis has to do with your immune system and how it works to fight off any sign of infection. With inflammatory arthritis, the immune system doesn’t work properly, and mistakenly attacks the joints with uncontrolled inflammation. This can cause joints to deteriorate and the inflammation can potentially cause damage to the organs and various other regions of the body. Some examples of inflammatory arthritis are rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis believed to be caused by genetic and environmental factors. So a diagnosis of this type of arthritis has more to do with your body than your joints actually having a specific problem which causes pain.
- Degenerative Arthritis: This form of arthritis typically occurs in the form of osteoarthritis where damage to the cartilage at the joints occurs from years of wear and tear. It is the most well known of them all, and typically affects those over a certain age as it has to do with joint usage. The cartilage at the bones gets worn and eventually, the joints get fatigued when there is not enough cushioning to ease the friction of the bones rubbing.
- Infectious Arthritis: Caused by a bacterial, viral, or fungal infection in the body, it can be transmittable via blood, consumption of infected food, or as a sexually transmitted disease. This can affect anyone at any age just from the sheer fact of how the causing agents are so easily transferable. Some examples of this form of arthritis would be shingles, gonorrhea, and hepatitis C.
- Metabolic Arthritis: The cause of this form of arthritis has to do with the way our bodies create uric acid which is a compound naturally created during the process of breaking down cells from eating and the sort. Some people have a high concentration of uric acid which can create a build up around the joints.
There are more than 100 different types of arthritis, with different causes and treatment methods. What is listed above denotes 4 of the most common forms, but you will come across many other variations.
What Does Arthritis Pain Feel Like?
The symptoms of arthritis carry many similarities, despites the differences in causes. While each type can affect the body differently, there are certain criteria in terms of pain which uniquely denote arthritic pain.
- Joint Pain: Whether at the knees, hips, or any point of the body where bones are connected to one another, a clear sign that arthritis has affected you is a deep pain around the joint areas that feels worse with movement.
- Stiffness: When you have issues moving your joints, and it feels like it requires more effort to move or walk, then it may be a sign of arthritis. For many, this occurrence is typically in the morning due to lack of activity overnight, but that doesn’t mean it could not happen any other time of the day or night.
- Swelling: Either around the joints or even appendages, swelling and redness can be a clear indication that arthritis has set in. Depending on what type of arthritis you are diagnosed with, this issue can come and go.
- Fatigue: A generic symptom as fatigue can set in for a slew of reasons and ailments. When you feel an overall achiness or just tiredness, it can likely be a problem associated with having arthritis. When you find that it is not allowing you to complete everyday tasks, treatment should definitely be sought out.
- Loss of Appetite: In the case of rheumatoid arthritis, you may feel tired or experience a loss of appetite due to the inflammation the immune system’s activity causes.
Common Methods for General Pain Relief
Though medication is an option, many other things can be done at home to ease the pain in a much more holistic manner. All of these home remedies are by no means a cure or treatment, and are generally meant to either improve overall health as a means of combating pain, or by targeting and temporarily relieving localized, occasional pain.
Your physician will likely devise a pain management plan for your specific needs, which may include many of the treatments below.
- Weight Loss: Managing your weight can work to significantly decrease your pain. Many types of arthritis pain are caused by the pressure, injury, or friction of joint pain. From years of use and wear, eventually, parts of the body become more worn with time as they have to work harder to do their functions. Less weight on your body overall will mean less for your joints to have to carry when you are mobile or partaking in any activities. Not only will your overall health improve but the pain will likely decrease as a result, no harm can certainly come about ensuring that you are at a healthy weight that your body can manage.
- Healthy Diet: This sentiment also goes without saying that feeding your body with the best nutrients can affect pain or any other ailment you may have. Foods that are high in fat content such as fried foods and red meats can cause inflammatory flare ups. Look for foods that are high in antioxidants such as fresh vegetables and fruit as well as fish and nuts. There are even specific diets you can follow which are known to be anti-inflammatory, helping to heal your body from the inside by fueling it with the proper nutrients.
- Exercise: While it might seem counterintuitive to move when you are in pain, low impact exercise will not only help to lose the extra weight your body may be carrying but increase blood flow especially to areas that may seem stiff. Starting off the day with some stretching or yoga will get more oxygen flowing throughout your body, but also work the muscles surrounding the joints to get stronger to support the affected areas. If the pain is too severe, try starting off with easier exercises like walking, or water aerobics which offer lower impact movements but still get the heart rate and blood flowing properly throughout your body. Whether you are suffering from arthritis or not, exercise is always going to be an activity that promotes an overall healthier lifestyle thus making your life better in the long run.
- Physical Therapy: If your symptoms have reached a certain point of severity, your physician may recommend physical therapy, which will be more structured and tailored exercises to help rehabilitate muscles and joints.
- Topical Treatments: The quickest form of relief from pains caused by arthritis would be a cream or ointment applied directly to the affected area. Typically, pain relief creams with pain-relieving ingredients like trolamine salicylate work instantaneously because they can be absorbed into the skin at the direct location of where the pain resides. Unlike anything taken orally, it does not have to hit your bloodstream to find its way to where relief is needed.
- Compression Products: For everyday usage, there are amazing products that can help with swelling and supporting the right amount of blood flow to your joints. Some examples include arthritis gloves and compression knee braces. Compression therapy works to allow for better range of motion when you move, and can work to support your joints during arthritis flare-ups.
Arthritis is not unmanageable. Thankfully, so much research and knowledge has been unearthed to allow those diagnosed with it to be provided with the right tools to manage this pain.
Depending on the severity, oftentimes the treatments done at home can be enough to subside the pain and manage it in a way which will not completely disrupt life’s daily activities. With the constant advancements of modern science and the power of plants and other holistic treatments being discovered regularly, consumers get a broad range of options, which makes managing the pain a less stressful task knowing that there are so many ways to combat the problems!