There are more than 100 types of arthritis and related conditions, and they affect at least 54 million adults and 300,000 children in the United States, according to the Arthritis Foundation.
Fortunately, there are also many medications, non-drug options, lifestyle changes, and surgical procedures available to help you manage arthritis pain and other symptoms.
“We’ve really come a long way over the past decade to help our patients live relatively symptom-free lives,” Scripps Clinic rheumatologist Dr. Kavitta Allem explained in an interview with San Diego Health.
Let’s take a look at the most common arthritis treatments recommended by experts, whether it’s osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or psoriatic arthritis.
The Arthritis Foundation lists six main types of medication to help treat the symptoms of arthritis:
- Painkillers: painkillers such as over-the-counter acetaminophen and prescription opioids
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): drugs for inflammation and pain, including over-the-counter aspirin and some prescription drugs like celecoxib (Celebrex)
- Corticosteroids: fast-acting drugs that mimic your natural cortisol to help reduce joint inflammation, especially in the short term
- Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs): slow-acting anti-inflammatory drugs to treat long-term arthritis symptoms
- Targeted DMARDs: Synthetic DMARDs that block certain parts of the immune system to reduce inflammation
- Biologics: Natural DMARDs (derived from cells) that block certain parts of the immune system to reduce inflammation.
US National Institutes of Health (NIH) co-specialist Dr. Michael Ombrello noted in a newsletter that biologics may be particularly helpful in treating severe arthritis in children.
“Biologics have really changed the face of childhood arthritis,” he said, explaining that the drug helps reduce children’s reliance on wheelchairs and crutches.
For more information on arthritis medications, American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) spokesperson Maura Iversen recommends The Arthritis Foundation’s Medication Guide as a useful tool to help understand ” what the drug is, what it targets in your body, how long it takes to work, (and) what the potential side effects are.”
Non-drug treatments for arthritis
There are several natural ways to manage your arthritis pain. The Arthritis Foundation states that eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, applying heat and cold to your joints, and taking short 15-minute breaks to rest throughout the day can help improve your symptoms. Research recently published in the Annals of Internal Medicine have shown that even light exercise can help relieve arthritic knee pain and give you a greater range of motion.
Therapies for arthritis include massage, acupuncture, biofeedback, and cognitive behavioral therapy. The foundation also recommends working with a physical therapist to improve your posture and range of motion.
Iversen, who is also dean of the College of Health Professions at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut, pointed out that when physical therapists create an exercise plan, they consider the type of arthritis you have. received the diagnosis, where in the body it manifests, its severity and whether you are in remission or having a flare-up.
“All of this is factored into the individual exercise programs that a physical therapist would prescribe,” she explained.
Iversen suggested several APTA-supported physical activity programs to help improve arthritis pain and other symptoms, including those offered by the Arthritis Foundation.
“The YMCA has a long, long history, at least in my 30-year career, of partnering with the Arthritis Foundation to provide aerobic programs for arthritis patients,” she said. note. “There’s also a walking program (and) we’re lucky today to have mobile apps where you can download a health app.”
Surgical treatments for arthritis
Dr. Paul DeMarco, director of the rheumatology training program at the National Institute of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), explained that “surgery can be very helpful in the right situation, and especially important before that joint pain does not affect sleep, lead to an inability to exercise, or cause joint limitation.”
According to the Arthritis Foundation, there are several surgical options you can choose from to help treat your arthritis pain, depending on how it affects your body:
- Arthroscopy: surgeons use a camera and a small incision to find and repair damaged tissue, cartilage and ligaments around the knees, shoulders, hips and other joints
- Total arthroplasty (arthroplasty surgery): a joint (usually the hip or knee) is replaced with an implant
- Joint resurfacing or partial joint replacement surgery: part of a joint is replaced with an implant
- Joint revision surgery: a damaged, defective or infected implant is replaced
- Arthrodesis or fusion surgery: hardware such as pins are used to join two or more bones together to keep the joint locked in place
- Osteotomy: a wedge is added to a bone or the bone is partially or completely removed to shift weight from an area that has been damaged by arthritis
- Synovectomy: The lining of a joint is partially or completely removed to help limit damage to surrounding cartilage.
If you want more information on arthritis treatments, Iversen recommends APTA’s ChoosePT and Find a PT resources. You can also consult the Arthritis Foundation’s treatment guides for additional therapies and surgeries to help improve your arthritis pain.
Health Day 2023. All rights reserved.
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