Posted by: Chelsea Hampton | May 14, 2012

Arthritis Awareness Month – Treatment & Pain Management

  • Heat and Cold Therapy – While the use of hot and cold compresses in assisting with injuries has been utilized for hundreds of years, heat and cold treatments can also be incredibly beneficial for ongoing conditions such as arthritis. Heat and cold affect tissues differently, so keep this in mind when preparing such treatment. Cold has the ability to reduce inflammation and swelling while also numbing the affected area, while heat can be soothing and relaxing as it stimulates circulation. There are a number of ways that these therapies can be implemented, including through the use of cold packs, hot tubs, hot towels and heating pads, small ice-water tubs and more. Always use caution with the temperature and duration when implementing heat/cold therapy, and talk with your doctor when starting a new treatment.

  • Massage Therapy – Massage can be incredibly soothing and relaxing. There are a few things to keep in mind though, whether doing massage on yourself or seeking out a massage therapist. Always maintain an awareness of how your body is feeling, and stop the massage if it becomes painful. Depending on the severity of the arthritis pain and inflammation, some areas might not be suitable or safe for massage therapy. If getting a massage from a practitioner, make sure they are certified to do massage therapy and inquire about their knowledge of arthritis and other conditions.

  • Relaxation and Meditation – Chronic pain can be stressful, frustrating, and may even cause feelings of hopelessness. Relaxation techniques and meditation have been shown to have many health benefits. These practices can help you manage pain and develop coping techniques for other stressors as well. The Arthritis Foundation’s web page on practicing relaxation has many resources available and can be accessed at:  http://www.arthritis.org/practice-relaxation.php.

  • Exercise – When arthritis strikes and stiffness starts to set in, one of the best things you can do to keep symptoms under control is to keep moving. Whether you engage in light stretching, swimming or walking, exercise can improve mobility and joint function. A wealth of information on exercising with arthritis can be found on the Fitness page of the Arthritis Today website. The Fitness page contains a variety of resources including workout videos, tips for starting an exercise program, information on yoga, tai chi and stretching, and much more. The Fitness page can be found at: http://www.arthritistoday.org/fitness/index.php. In addition to these resources, Arthritis Today offers a helpful wellness tool called Track + React which allows you to log your daily activities and arthritis symptoms. The results are then presented in a graph which details the relationship between what you do and how you feel, and logged activities include everything from nutrition, sleep, exercise and medication. http://www.arthritistoday.org/tools/track-and-react/track-and-react-modules.php.

  • Alternative & Complimentary Treatments – Relief may be found through other treatments such as acupuncture, hypnosis, supplements and herbal remedies, and aromatherapy. While these treatments have health claims and may be beneficial for some, always be sure to do plenty of research and consult a physician before trying. While there is a huge market for herbs and supplements, they are not regulated by the FDA. Be aware of risks when combining herbs and supplements with medications.  

  • Surgery – Surgery is a big decision and can be a scary and confusing process. There are many factors to consider, preparations to make, and plenty of research should be done in advance to help you be an informed consumer. Arthritis Today offers great resources regarding surgery on their website and covers topics such as Preventing Medical Errors, Ways to Avoid Knee Surgery, Prehab for Surgery, Preparing for Joint Surgery and more. This information from Arthritis Today can be found at: http://www.arthritistoday.org/treatments/surgery/index.php. For further information, the Arthritis Foundation provides surgery fact sheets which can be accessed at: http://www.arthritis.org/aaos-fact-sheets.php.

 

Information obtained and adapted from the following sources:

– Arthritis Foundation. http://www.arthritis.org/manage-pain.php 

– Arthritis Today. Surgery. http://www.arthritistoday.org/treatments/surgery/index.php

This information is provided courtesy of the Wyoming AgrAbility Project. For more information, visit our website or call toll-free at 866-395-4986.

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