Understanding Your Arthritis Treatment Options
Arthritis is a term that is used to describe a wide variety of medical problems that affect one’s joints. These conditions take place for a number of reasons, but they typically result in chronic stiffness and inflammation. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with arthritis, then take a look at some of these common treatment options for pain management and improved mobility.
Arthritis and Joint Pain
Many patients are surprised to hear that arthritis is not just a single condition, but an informal term that is used to describe over 100 unique diseases. Arthritis affects people of all ages, but it is mostly found in the elderly. Currently, around 50 million people in the United States suffer from arthritis and it remains the number one disability in the country. The most common symptoms include stiffness around joints, inflammation, and general discomfort. When left untreated, arthritis can permanently damage one’s joints.
Starting with Lifestyle Changes
Doctors will typically begin treating this condition by asking a patient to make some lifestyle changes and improve their general health. Instead of immediately going to prescription medication or surgery, patients should first make an attempt to stay at a healthy weight while carrying out as much physical therapy as possible. Arthritis might not be cured by healthy lifestyle changes, but it will slow down the damage and improve one’s quality of life.
Prescription Medication for Pain Management
Options such as anti-inflammatories and prescription painkillers are quite effective for many patients with arthritis. That being said, patients should think of these as short-term solutions to their discomfort instead of a long-term solution to their joint disease. Non-prescription medication options can be taken orally or applied topically and are designed to reduce inflammation, improve one’s mobility, and provide pain relief. Prescription options such as steroid and cortisone shots do provide immediate relief, but almost all patients will require therapy as well.
This form of therapy does have quite a few benefits, but it is not right for every patient. All patients must speak with their primary healthcare provider to see if physical therapy will treat their particular joint disease. On average, patients will meet with a PT specialist around once a week for three to six months in order to build strength and improve their mobility.