UNDERSTAND PAIN

Understand Your Arthritis Pain

Arthritis pain can influence what you do every day — try not to let it. Taking control starts with understanding

THE BASICS OF ARTHRITIS

The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis affecting nearly 27 million Americans.

Arthritis symptoms can come and go and include pain, stiffness and swelling, and decreased range of motion. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and can change over time. If you experience pain, see your doctor for a diagnosis and follow his/her instructions.

Don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor about combining several treatment strategies to get maximum arthritis pain relief.

WHAT'S BEHIND IT?

When it comes to figuring out what causes arthritis, it really depends on the type of arthritis you have. Osteoarthritis can be caused by an injury to the joints, which can break down the cartilage — connective tissue that protects the joints by absorbing stress. See your doctor to develop a pain management plan specific to your arthritis diagnosis.

WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT

Don’t be afraid to combine several treatment strategies to get maximum arthritis pain relief. Just be sure to discuss with your doctor all the new treatments you’d like to try; here are a few options to discuss with your doctor:

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Medication

Prescription and over-the-counter medications, like Aleve can help ease minor arthritis pain when used as directed. Just make sure you always check with your doctor before taking any medication.

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Physical therapy

The exercises involved in physical therapy can help make the muscles around the affected joint stronger. Be sure to check out other supporting therapies that can complement your treatment. Please consult with your doctor before you begin any exercises.

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Hot and cold packs

This is inexpensive and convenient, and may provide some relief from pain and stiffness.

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Surgery

In some cases, surgery may be a good treatment option. Hip and knee replacements are the most commonly performed surgeries for arthritis. Sometimes joint fusion surgery can be performed in severe cases of arthritis in the fingers or wrists. Only your doctor can determine what treatment options are right for you.

TIPS YOU CAN USE RIGHT NOW

Gardening smarter

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To relieve some of the weight on your joints, don't sit on the ground while gardening.

Instead, sit on a low step-stool, or try planting flowers in window-box containers or table-top pots.

You also might try gardening tools with adaptive handles for easy grasping.

Try assisted devices

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Reduce stress on your joints with the help of assisted devices. Try canes, crutches and walkers to relieve your hips and knees. Ballpoint pens with built-up handles can make it easier to write. Long handles and reachers may spare shoulders when you need an item from a high shelf.

At-home tips

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If you dress your children in the morning, sit on a chair and have the child stand in front of you to avoid bending over. Prepare lunches the evening before to slow the pace in the morning. Do you have an old, heavy vacuum? Consider swapping it for one of today’s many lightweight options. Simple strategies like these can make everyday tasks at home more manageable.

Fighting work fatigue

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To avoid more wear on your body and mind, try these tips to keep work fatigue at a minimum. If you tend to feel overworked, schedule a set amount of time for your tasks and stick to that schedule — make sure it includes time for the unexpected. Slow your work pace to avoid mistakes and accidents. When you're having a flare, reach out to coworkers for support.

Keep the joy in cooking

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To work around minor arthritis pain in the kitchen try buying cheese that’s already grated or shredded instead of doing it yourself. Easy-grip utensils and rubber jar openers are also good items to have on hand.