When you suffer from arthritis, pain and stiffness in your joints can seriously interfere with your quality of life. Arthritis describes more than 200 different conditions that affect joints and the surrounding connective tissue. You may suffer from arthritis due to wear and tear, aging, inflammation, autoimmune conditions, or infection.
Regardless of the origins of your arthritis, you may think surgery is the only way to alleviate your pain and dysfunction. While joint replacement surgery can successfully restore function, it isn’t your only option. Read on to learn how you can alleviate pain without going under the knife.
A healthy diet goes a long way in reducing the inflammation that can aggravate arthritis pain. Eat mostly whole, plant-based foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals. Focus on leafy greens, color-rich fruits, whole grains, lean proteins, and unsaturated fats that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
These foods support a healthy immune system and can contribute to reduced fluid retention and better circulation. Plus, when eaten in moderate quantities, these foods support a healthy weight, which reduces pressure on arthritic joints.
Exercise and physical therapy
Physical therapy can help restore function and strengthen the muscles surrounding joints affected by arthritis, so the joint itself has less of a burden when you move. There are specific exercises that Barrington Orthopedic Specialists can recommend to improve range of motion and enhance your posture. Strong joints feel better, even when affected by arthritis.
Regular exercise improves circulation and discourages stiffness, which can accelerate arthritis pain. Doing something as simple as taking a daily walk goes a long way in keeping arthritis pain at bay. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio per week to reap the benefits.
The team at Barrington Orthopedic Specialists offers various injections to help alleviate arthritis pain without surgery. These include anti-inflammatory drugs like cortisone and hyaluronic acid. A hyaluronic acid injection mimics a substance that occurs naturally in your joints and acts as a lubricant to promote ease of movement.
Ice and heat
Self-application of ice for about 20 minutes every hour following vigorous activity can help ease inflammation, pain, and swelling by constricting blood vessels. Heat, when applied during a surge of arthritis pain, increases circulation to the pained region. Apply it 2-3 times per day using a hot pack or heating pad for 15 minutes at a time.
Compressive support at the affected joint can help alleviate arthritis pain and encourage greater function. Braces are particularly helpful for arthritic knees, but may also support elbows and ankles affected by arthritis.
Over-the-counter medications and, in some cases, prescription medications, go a long way to treat pain and swelling. Antirheumatic drugs can help ease the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, while stronger prescription pain medications can provide you enough relief to do your daily activities and get restful sleep at night.
If none of these nonsurgical treatments work and your pain becomes unbearable, you might consider joint replacement surgery. The long-term benefits of the surgery may outweigh your suffering. If you do need to consider surgery, trust the team at Barrington Orthopedic Specialists to provide you with the best care possible.