Living with osteoarthritis (OA) makes simple tasks difficult and daily life a challenge. Inflammation and pain can affect any of your joints, though the disease commonly affects the hands, knees, and hips. Fortunately, help is available. If you’re suffering from degenerative joint pain, it’s important to consider the following treatment options.
7 Effective Methods for Treating Osteoarthritis
- Pain-Relief Creams
- Exercises and Physical Therapy
- Diet Modifications
- Medications and Painkillers
- Stem Cell Therapy
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that affects millions of Americans. Some treatment options for osteoarthritis require medical intervention, while others are natural remedies that can help improve mobility and reduce your pain. Here are seven osteoarthritis treatment options available to help you combat this disease.
1. Pain-Relief Creams
Pain relief creams are applied directly to the skin of the area where you’re experiencing joint pain. These creams can occasionally cause side effects, but reactions are much less severe and infrequent compared to oral medication.
As an over-the-counter option, pain-relief creams are easy to get without having to regularly visit the pharmacy and wait on a prescription. There are many options for pain-relief creams to help you manage your osteoarthritis pain.
Arthritis Wonder is a fast-acting osteoarthritis treatment that you can apply at least once a day or as needed for long-term relief. Within five minutes, you can experience joint pain relief, whether that be your hands, hips, knees or back. Arthritis Wonder is the only product that includes wogonin, a highly effective anti-inflammatory agent derived naturally from the Skullcap plant Scutellaria Baicalensis.
Topical NSAIDs and Opioid Creams
Many patients suffering from finger joint or knee osteoarthritis find relief with topical NSAIDs. These topical creams commonly include the drug diclofenac which can be prescribed by your doctor. Diclofenac is a well-known medicine for reducing inflammation, but long-term use is not recommended.
There are also opioid analgesics for severe pain which require a prescription. These types of creams use a narcotic drug to block your brain’s pain receptors. There is a serious risk of addiction to any narcotic drug, and although the drug is not being ingested, patients who use these creams are not supposed to drive or operate machinery.
2. Exercises and Physical Therapy
By strengthening the muscles around the aching joints, you can find relief from your osteoarthritis symptoms. Exercises and physical therapy are a great way to manage your pain without medications or surgery.
There are three main types of exercises for osteoarthritis treatment:
Range of Motion/Flexibility – These exercises help by reducing stiffness in the affected joints. The more mobility you have in these joints, the less stiffness and pain you’ll experience.
Endurance/Aerobic – By building your endurance, you help your body work more effectively and increase your stamina. This makes activities that engage your aching joints more tolerable as they’ll put less overall strain on your body. Generally, you should try and get 150 minutes of aerobic activity each week to help build and keep this endurance.
Strengthening Exercises – The stronger your muscles, the better they can support your joints. By adding strength training exercises to your exercise routines, you can experience lower pain levels from your OA.
To help you target your areas of pain, a physical therapist can work with you on exercises that remedy your osteoarthritis. A trained physical therapist that specializes in arthritis treatment can help you target your hips, knee, finger joints, neck or other painful areas to ensure your time in exercise is well spent.
Another great benefit of exercise is that it can help you lose weight. Excess weight puts added strain and stress on your joints, causing the cartilage to break down faster and accelerate your degenerative joint pain.
3. Diet Modifications
Some foods promote inflammation, while others reduce it. When you modify your diet to eliminate inflammation-inducing foods and increase foods that are antioxidant rich to reduce inflammation, you can find relief from your osteoarthritis symptoms.
This form of osteoarthritis treatment can be accomplished by adding the foods to your diet that reduce inflammation, including:
- Vitamin C (tropical fruits, citrus fruits, cantaloupe, strawberries, kiwi, raspberries, bell peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, and kale)
- Vitamin D (seafood, milk fortified with vitamin D, eggs, orange juice, cereal, tofu, yogurt)
- Beta-carotene (winter squash, cantaloupe, parsley, tomatoes, asparagus, cruciferous vegetables)
- Omega-3 fatty acids (oysters, walnuts, omega-3-fortified eggs, sardines, salmon, herring, anchovies, flax seed)
- Bioflavonoids (onions, kale, leeks, blueberries, cocoa powder, green tea, apricots, apples)
- Spices (ginger and turmeric)
You should avoid the following foods because they increase inflammation:
- Fried food
When your body receives important vitamins and nutrients you will feel much better. Just like with exercise, changes to your diet to healthier foods can also be beneficial by promoting weight loss.
4. Medications and Painkillers
Generally, doctors recommend trying the natural remedies listed above before resorting to medications. While beneficial in reducing pain and improving your overall quality of life, medications treat your symptoms and not the root cause of your pain and discomfort, which makes them less ideal for your long-term health.
Here are some medications and painkillers you can discuss with your doctor:
Start with a small amount. While there are few day-to-day side effects of taking acetaminophen regularly, over time this drug can cause liver damage, especially if you exceed the recommended dosage. While taking this over the counter pain medication, you should avoid heavy alcoholic consumption. Limit alcoholic beverages to no more than two per day because both this drug and alcohol put a strain on your liver.
Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs
NSAIDs are over-the-counter drugs designed to reduce inflammation while also reducing your pain. These include branded drugs you’re likely familiar with, including Aleve, Motrin, and Advil. Like acetaminophen, extended use can lead to side effects including upset stomach, bleeding in the stomach, as well as heart attack and stroke.
These prescription-level NSAIDs are designed to fight inflammation. They are designed to have fewer side effects on your stomach. While these drugs carry less risk of heart attack when used for prolonged periods than traditional NSAIDs, patients who use these do have a higher risk of kidney damage.
When changes to your diet and exercise provide no relief, and oral medications don’t work for you, your doctor can inject medicine directly into your affected joints. This method is more invasive and requires more visits to your doctor. Even with a good health insurance plan, injections may be more expensive than over-the-counter drugs and creams.
Also called cortisone or steroid injections, these injections provide short-term relief and must be administered at regular intervals. Your doctor will inject medicine directly into the affected joint. This is the most common form of injection treatment for osteoarthritis.
Corticosteroid injections are designed to lower inflammation and work almost instantly to provide relief. These injections often need to be administered every couple of months, though problems can arise from long-term use. There are side effects to these shots including joint irritation, nerve damage, infection, and bone thinning. Too many repeated injections can add to the breakdown of your joints, which is the very symptom you’re trying to avoid.
Hyaluronic Acid Injections
Hyaluronic acid injections are highly debated by the arthritis community. While approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), there is still a great deal of controversy surrounding their effectiveness. As an osteoarthritis treatment, hyaluronic acid injections are designed for the hip or knee joints.
They carry a risk of more pain and swelling where injected, which is the opposite desired result. Some patients also experience allergic reactions to the medicine.
6. Stem Cell Therapy
Stem cell therapy can mend damaged tissue and help fight off the disease. In some clinical studies, cartilage regeneration has been observed. Patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis receive the additional benefit of an improved immune system.
Some stem cell therapies require a patient to undergo a procedure where healthy stem cells are removed from the hip bone to be injected into the affected area. This procedure can be highly uncomfortable and takes some recovery time to heal after the procedure.
Stem cell therapy is a new form of osteoarthritis treatment and not widely recognized. Most insurance companies will deny coverage for these claims. This can leave patients with a bill of around $2,000 per treatment, making this a very expensive therapy to undergo. Investigating insurance coverage and cost of treatment before signing up to receive this treatment is highly recommended.
Given that stem cell therapy is still emerging, it is not regulated by the FDA for osteoarthritis treatment, making it a riskier procedure. While there are many clinics surfacing throughout the country, vetting these providers could prove to be difficult.
When all other osteoarthritis treatments fail, your doctor may resort to surgery to treat your osteoarthritis. There are different types of surgery options that your doctor might recommend.
is a procedure that enables your doctor to insert a small camera into your affected joint to have a better view of what is causing your pain. Your doctor can then remove damaged cartilage and bone fragments as well as smooth out rough spots to improve your joint’s ability to function normally.
While this surgery is not extremely invasive, it is also limited in its ability to provide relief for osteoarthritis sufferers as it doesn’t work for all types of arthritis. If your doctor deems that the surgery is right for you, the great news is that the recovery time is short.
There is also the option for arthroplasty which is a total joint replacement surgery. During this procedure, a surgeon removes the part of your bone that houses the arthritis disease and inserts an artificial metal or plastic joint. The procedure provides great relief and improved quality of life for most patients but must be redone when the artificial joint wears out, which is often within 20 years.
Osteotomy is a procedure in which a surgeon cuts the bone near your affected joint and inserts a wedge to realign the affected bone so that it doesn’t rub and cause pain. This surgery treats the cause of the arthritis pain instead of the symptoms but does require extensive healing and a longer stay in the hospital.
A final surgery option to treat your osteoarthritis is a joint fusion. This is when a surgeon joins two or more bones together using pins or screws to create one continuous joint. This surgery provides lifetime relief but carries with it a reduction in mobility and flexibility given that it is fusing multiple joints into one. Additionally, it can mean more pressure and stress on other joints as your body adapts to accommodate the change.
Many Ways to Treat Osteoarthritis
There are many treatment options available for osteoarthritis. Less invasive treatments include diet and exercise, oral medications, painkillers, and use of a topical cream like Arthritis Wonder. Advanced treatments include corticosteroid injections, hyaluronic acid injections, stem cell therapy, and even surgery.
Do all you can to learn more about osteoarthritis so you can make informed decisions about your available options. Talk to your doctor about a treatment plan that fits your needs. You don’t have to suffer through daily pain. Test out these different remedies – both natural and medicinal – to find relief and improve your quality of life
Osteoarthritis is a chronic and degenerative disease of the joint, or in layman terms, a “wear and tear” problem of the rubbery cushions between the joints that tends to worsen over time. There is no one-shot-fits-all approach to treating arthritis, and treatment can (and usually does) consist of several options, like anti-inflammatory pain medication, physical and occupational therapy, or surgery. Additionally, many vitamins and supplements can help treat arthritis.
Top 13 Vitamins and Supplements Used in the Treatment of Osteoarthritis:
- Glucosamine with Chondroitin
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids (Fish Oil)
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
- Rose Hips
- Curcumin (Turmeric)
- Cat’s Claw
- Green Tea (Camellia Sinensis)
Osteoarthritis is very common, especially in people who are 65 or older. It holds the title as the most prevalent joint condition in the United States, impacting more than 27 million Americans. Osteoarthritis can affect any joint in the body, causing pain, stiffness, and restriction of movement.
One in two adults will develop knee osteoarthritis in their lifetime, and many millions more must learn how to combat the debilitating finger-joint pain that accompanies arthritis occurring in the hands and fingers. Unsurprisingly, many sufferers choose to add natural remedies and nutritional supplements to their arthritis-fighting toolbox.
Eating Right for Arthritis
Arthritis can be simplified as a disease of inflammation. Therefore, choosing whole foods that are not only healthy but also naturally anti-inflammatory, and can play a significant role in easing pain and other common symptoms. This is most certainly the case for rheumatoid arthritis. For osteoarthritis sufferers, we know that a well-balanced diet consisting of whole, unprocessed foods promotes a healthy weight, and weight management is critical to lessening “wear and tear” on the bones and joints.
Researchers have looked at which foods are found to alleviate osteoarthritis symptoms, determining that sufferers are most likely to benefit from garlic, onion, leeks, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, milk, legumes, and whole grains. In one research study, diets high in cow cheese appeared to worsen osteoporosis symptoms. Some researchers report that eliminating dairy completely helps lessen symptoms, although study results so far have been mixed.
1. Glucosamine with Chondroitin
Chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine are the most popular supplements used in the treatment of osteoarthritis. Glucosamine, or glucosamine sulfate, is a naturally-occurring part of cartilage with the highest concentration found in the fluid around the joints. Producers of glucosamine supplements source the compound from shellfish or recreate it in the laboratory. Glucosamine alone is very safe and can be tried in place of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
In the United States, glucosamine is often combined with chondroitin sulfate in the fight against the most common osteoarthritis symptoms. Chondroitin is also a naturally-occurring substance and a major component of cartilage. Like glucosamine, chondroitin can be sourced from animals (sharks, cows, pigs) or made in a laboratory. There is evidence that showing efficacy in reducing pain and preventing joint damage, especially in the knee. In some European countries, chondroitin sulfate is available by prescription for the treatment of osteoarthritis.
A combination of glucosamine and chondroitin has been shown to relieve pain and improve function in some cases of moderate to severe osteoarthritis of the knee. Pharmaceutical grade products are considered ideal for these supplements due to the often low quality of commercially manufactured products.
2. Omega-3 Fatty Acids (Fish Oil)
The popularity of omega-3 fatty acids as a supplement has grown in recent years due in large part to emerging scientific evidence that shows omega-3 fatty acids may play a role in decreasing the risk of coronary heart disease. But did you know that omega-3 fatty acids have also been found to be beneficial for treating arthritis? While the most profound symptom-reducing effects of omega-3’s are realized among those with rheumatoid arthritis, there is evidence to support omega-3 fatty acids as an anti-inflammatory therapy for osteoarthritis sufferers as well. Either way, omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial to overall health and may provide the added benefit of protecting joints from further cartilage damage.
Fatty fish are naturally bursting at the seams with omega-3 fatty acids, therefore fish oil (cod-liver oil) capsules are the most prevalent of the omega-3 supplements. The two omega-3 fatty acids that are found in fish oil are DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosatetraenoic). Whole food sources that are high in omega-3 fatty acids include fish, green leafy vegetables, flaxseed oil, and walnuts.
3. Vitamin C
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is an anti-oxidant that helps neutralize damage caused by free radicals in the body. Free radicals are thought to contribute to the underlying causes of osteoarthritis. The results of one study, published in the Journal of Translational Medicine, showed vitamin C helped prevent the onset of pain in rheumatoid arthritis sufferers. Patients in this particular study received twice-weekly, high-dose infusions of vitamin C. The data from this study suggests efficacy in pain relief from vitamin C for rheumatoid arthritis, however, it is unclear if those suffering from osteoarthritis could expect the same benefit. There is evidence that Vitamin C is possibly effective as an adjunct treatment for gout when taken in combination with uric acid.
The recommended intake of Vitamin C is 40mg per day for adults and this should be easily obtainable from diet alone. Whole food sources for Vitamin C include orange and yellow vegetables, as well as citrus fruit and kiwi fruit. Vitamin C supplements are incredibly common and available in many forms: dissolvable tablets, fizzy drinks, gummies, vitamin capsules, and in-clinic infusions.
Be careful not to overdo it. There is some research to suggest that too much vitamin C can actually accelerate joint damage in those living with osteoarthritis. As always, talk to your healthcare provider before beginning your regimen.
4. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that promotes bone health by helping the body absorb calcium. While this “sunshine vitamin” is by no means a cure-all, scientists are discovering increasingly more about how vitamin D plays a key role in physical health and vitality. We get vitamin D from exposure to sunlight, as well as from fatty fish and foods that have been fortified (such as orange juice and milk). Nevertheless, a high proportion of the human population has a vitamin D deficiency, in some regions as much as 75%.
It is recommended that those at risk for bone disease or joint deterioration have their vitamin D status checked via blood test and take with vitamin D supplements if necessary.
5. Vitamin E
Vitamin E is another fat-soluble antioxidant that exhibits anti-inflammatory properties and helps to protect the body from destructive free radicals. As far as we know, vitamin E might play a role in slowing down the progression of osteoarthritis, although results from medical studies can vary.
6. Vitamin K
Vitamin K plays a role in the regulation of skeletal mineralization, and insufficiencies can heighten the risk of osteoarthritis appearing or progressing, especially in the knee or hand. We get enough of this vitamin by eating plenty of green vegetables, legumes, eggs, liver, and strawberries. While the need for supplementation is not well established, vitamin K is thought to play a role in preventing the onset and progression of bone and joint damage.
7. Curcumin (Turmeric)
This yellow powder, traditionally used as an arthritis treatment in China and India, has gained traction worldwide as an arthritis-fighting supplement. A number of studies show curcumin, also known as turmeric, to be effective in lessening pain, stiffness, and inflammation among both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis sufferers. Curcumin is considered one of the most effective antioxidants, shown to be especially effective against the disease activity of knee osteoarthritis.
8. Rose Hips
Rose hips are not only incredibly rich in vitamin C but have shown to decrease inflammation by inhibiting production of inflammatory proteins and enzymes, specifically key players COX-1 and COX-2. Large-scale studies have provided evidence that rose hips powder can minimize hip, knee, and wrist joint pain in osteoarthritis patients.
Ginger is not just a delicious spice. Incredibly, there is research to suggest that high-potency ginger may one day be as effective a painkiller as over-the-counter, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen. In one study, concentrated ginger extract reduced pain and stiffness in knee joints by 40 percent. Ginger is an all-in-one pain reliever (analgesic), anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. To ensure the full benefits of ginger as a supplement, choose capsules that use the “super-critical” method of extraction.
MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) is an organic sulfur compound found in fruits, vegetables, and grains. MSM also exists naturally in the human body as a helper to connective tissues. MSM seems to act as an analgesic (pain reliever) by putting a damper on the nerve impulses that transmit pain, and there is evidence to back this up. A 2006 study of men and women with knee osteoarthritis taking 6,000 mg of MSM reported improved physical function and less pain. Use with caution: Although no major side effects have been reported, MSM has been known to cause upset stomach or diarrhea.
SAM-e (S-adenosyl-L-methionine), a chemical that occurs naturally in the body, has received much attention over the last 20 years for its effectiveness as a pain-killer for people with osteoarthritis (among others). Most will experience some benefit within the first months, and because SAM-e works in partnership with B-6, B-12 and folic acid, it is important to get enough B vitamins while taking this supplement. In fact, B vitamins may themselves help reduce bone pain from osteoarthritis.
12. Cat’s Claw
The root and bark of cat’s claw (not to be confused with cat’s foot or devil’s claw) is a popular medicinal in the US and Europe. Thought to have anti-inflammatory effects, one of its most common uses is symptom relief in osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. The cat’s claw species of Uncaria guianensis has been shown to relieve knee pain from exercise within one week of treatment.
13. Green Tea
Green tea is the result of steaming, pan frying and drying the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. Popular around the world and consumed most often as a beverage, green tea in extract, tincture and supplement form can be also purchased. While more studies are needed, early evidence points to green tea as a potential treatment for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Green tea contains polyphenols that reduce inflammation in the body.
Vitamins for Arthritis Sufferers
Studies show that these vitamins can help alleviate joint inflammation, minimize pain, and strengthen your bones. It’s a good idea to discuss any natural remedies for arthritis that you are considering with your doctor. While these vitamins are viewed as safe and healthy, interactions can and do exist among over-the-counter supplements and prescription medication. The vitamin and supplement industries are not regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration, so individuals should stick with trusted sources for their purchases.
Be careful not to exceed the recommended dosage unless otherwise indicated by your physician. When taken correctly and safely, these vitamins and minerals can be an important part of an effective arthritis treatment plan.
Many of us have grown accustomed to taking over-the-counter pain relievers, like aspirin or ibuprofen, to alleviate minor and/or sporadic aches and pains. But for those who live with chronic pain or suffer frequent sprains, strains or other injuries, oral pain relievers might not be the best option. Often, pills can cause issues such as stomach sensitivity, and a host of other side effects.
Topical pain relievers, however, can present an effective solution for prolonged or frequent pain. A topical gel or cream is absorbed directly into your skin, dramatically reducing the amount of active ingredient that enters the bloodstream. The medication works locally and often more quickly than a pain pill.
Where to Apply Topical Pain Relief Cream
Because of their quick absorption into the skin, topical pain relievers are typically most effective on joints or muscles situated close to the skin – and, of course, you’ll want to concentrate on areas that are easy to reach. Overall, you want to use topical pain relief medications on areas where the active ingredient is most likely to be effective. Some good places to start include the following:
- Biceps and triceps
- Lower back
Topical Pain Relief Benefits
Using a topical cream or pain relief gel instead an oral pain relief product exposes you to fewer side effects because it doesn’t require gastrointestinal absorption and the circulation of an active ingredient through your bloodstream. It may also be more effective, since oral medication affects pain sensitivity in the whole body, while a topical pain relief product can help provide relief right whereyou need it most.
Some patients just have a tough time swallowing pills in general, and others may have undergone previous surgeries or procedures that impede drug absorption. In addition, if you’re just starting to experiment with pain management, a topical pain relief cream is a good first step. It follows the generally recommended practice of beginning with the most non-invasive options available.
To help you get started, let’s look more closely at how topical pain relief works.
How Topical Pain Relief Creams Work
The best creams on the market will provide powerful and quick pain relief. A specific product’s mechanism of action depends largely on its active ingredient. To some extent, researchers are still working to define the specific mechanism of action and articulate exactly how topical pain relief products work. But they do work; in fact, they all provide localized relief, almost immediately. A few common active ingredients and how they generally work are outlined below.
Benzocaine’s numbing action reduces itching, burning, and pain on the surface of the skin by blocking the body’s nerve signals. Typically used to treat sunburn and other minor skin irritations, benzocaine is not a common solution for arthritis or other, deeper muscle or joint pain.
The cooling action associated with menthol makes it a popular active ingredient to treat minor muscle pain and joint pain. The cooling effect can distract from aching and discomfort deeper within muscles and joints. Because of its efficacy, you’ll find menthol in a variety of products and in a variety of concentrations. You’ll want to experiment a bit to find out which formulation gives you the highest level of relief with the lowest sensitivity. Products like Arthritis Wonder and Recover Wonder use menthol as an ingredient and can be good products to start with to test your body’s response to menthol.
Wintergreen (Methyl Salicylate)
This organic compound is also known as wintergreen. It is frequently found in topical pain relievers, but it has certain disadvantages. Instead of providing a cooling effect as menthol does, Wintergreen provides a warming effect which is not as effective for treating arthritis pain. Wintergreen can also trigger allergic reactions, such as hives and difficulty breathing. For these reasons, effective pain relief creams like Arthritis Wonder do not contain methyl salicylate.
Camphor employs a cooling action to reduce itching, burning and skin pain, as well as joint and muscle aches. Camphor increases local blood flow, and as a counterirritant, causes irritation that ultimately relieves pain and swelling.
Hydrocortisone is part of the steroid class of topical pain relief creams, which prevent the production of inflammation-causing chemicals in the body. They are more commonly used for skin-level irritations and do come with side effects. Luckily, they are most often accessed as a prescription product rather than being available over the counter, so they are typically used under a physician’s supervision.
Best known as the active ingredient in many over-the-counter allergy medications, diphenhydramine reduces itching and redness on skin when applied topically. It is part of the antihistamine class of drugs that suppress the natural substance, histamine, which causes itching. It is best used for superficial skin irritations like bug bites, sunburn, rashes, etc.
Made from the compound found in chili peppers, capsaicin creates a feeling of heat and has consistently shown itself as one of the most effective topical pain relievers – especially for joint pain, but also for diabetic nerve pain. In fact, capsaicin is one of the most common active ingredients in OTC pain relief creams. However, remember to take care: you should not use products containing capsaicin if you have an allergy to chili peppers. Make sure to talk to your physician.
Lidocaine serves as a local anesthetic that blocks the body’s nerve signals. Lidocaine is commonly used to treat skin conditions and irritations like sunburn, poison ivy or oak and even minor scratches or burns.
Much like lidocaine, the numbing action in pramoxine can relieve burning, itching, and pain by suppressing pain signals.
What Are Counterirritants?
Many of these active ingredients are classified as counterirritants, which means they actually inflame the affected area, stimulating nerves and creating a distracting, milder sensation. Some products contain only one isolated counterirritant, while others may combine multiple versions.
It’s important to note that topical counterirritants don’t actually treat the root cause of your pain – instead, they’re changing the way your brain perceives that pain. The temporary hot or cold sensation the product elicits can interrupt pain signals. Basically, the product serves to distract your brain from the more intense pain you’re seeking relief from. This can be tremendously helpful, because it helps keep you comfortable while your body heals from injury, or it lessens the effects of a chronic condition.
What is the Best Topical Pain Relief?
Ultimately, that decision has to rest with you as the end user. Depending on the type, level, and duration of your pain, you may have to experiment with a few different topical pain relief products before you find the one that’s most effective for you.
For example, while menthol creates a cooling sensation, active ingredients like methyl salicylate and capsaicin result in a warming, tingling sensation. Many patients prefer the cooling effect, but much of that boils down to personal preference.
Keep in mind that topical pain relief creams are less effective against pain that affects a large area and/or affects multiple parts of the body, so concentrate on specific, localized areas of pain – like those related to arthritis, injury or post-workout sore muscles.
Here’s how to get started on finding which product is best for you.
Application Instructions and Best Practices
While topical pain relief products carry significantly fewer side effects than their oral counterparts, they can still cause you trouble if not used correctly. Follow the instructions outlined below for the best results.
- First, always read the package insert of any pain relief cream or other topical pain reliever. You may also want to save it so you can refer to it later if needed.
- If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, or if you have especially sensitive skin, you may want to check in with your doctor before you start using any OTC topical pain relief cream.
- Check the treatment area to make sure you have no open wounds or broken skin before applying.
- Wash your hands before and after applying. Some people even prefer to wear gloves. Be sure to keep hands away from eyes, mucous membranes or genitals – don’t touch at all while there’s product on your hands.
- Use no more than a quarter-sized amount at a time.
- Let your skin dry completely before you get dressed – this can help you avoid stains, depending on the composition of the product you’re using. A good rule of thumb is that creams are usually less greasy than ointments, less likely to leave a stain and easier to wash off your hands once finished.
- Avoid using a heating pad after applying your pain relief cream – using the two together has been known to lead to chemical burns.
- Also, avoid covering the treated area with a tight bandage for the same reason.
- Avoid using your topical pain relief product more than four times per day – unless your package insert or your physician indicates otherwise.
Active Ingredient Considerations
- If you’re allergic to aspirin, check with your physician before using a product with salicylates as its active ingredient. Do the same if you’re currently taking blood thinners.
- In general, avoid using salicylate creams other than occasionally – unless you get different instructions from your physician.
- Try not to use topical pain relief products containing methyl salicylate before exercising – this could cause you to absorb too much of the active ingredient as your circulation increases during physical activity.
- Avoid using a topical pain relief cream if you’re also taking an oral non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, no matter whether it’s OTC or prescription-strength. Your body absorbing too much NSAID can lead to severe stomach issues, including flare-ups of stomach ulcers.
General Best Practices
- Please remember that topical pain relief products are just that – topical. Avoid ingesting them, and call 911 if you do so inadvertently.
- Overall, avoid using topical pain relief creams too often or leaving them on too long – this can lead to irritation or even encourage allergic reactions. If the product you’re trying isn’t working, don’t be tempted to just try more, thinking that it might be more effective. If you find yourself using more than a tube (4 oz.) per week, that’s likely too much.
- Be very careful using topical pain relief products on children – most should not be used on children under age 2, and your packaging may also detail special instructions for use with children under 12. Some products even stipulate that you need a physician’s advice before using on a child. Make sure you read carefully and follow instructions appropriately.
- If a topical product causes irritation or your skin shows any sensitivity, stop using it immediately – even if you’ve used the same product with no problems in the past.
You can usually apply a topical pain relief cream every three to four hours as needed, without worrying about side effects or any drug interactions. For the most part, topical pain relief products are unlikely to interact with other medications you use. But just to be safe, tell your physician about all medicines you’re taking – including prescription, OTC, vitamins, herbal and homeopathic options.
Possible Side Effects
Side effects generally associated with topical pain relief products are uncommon and typically very mild. To be safe, though, you should stop using the product immediately and check in with your physician if you experience any of the following:
- Other observable skin irritation
Where to Apply Topical Pain Relief Cream
It’s important to apply a topical pain relief cream right where you need it in order to get the best results. Let’s look a little more closely at the areas in which topical pain relief can be most effective.
Whether the source of pain is arthritis, carpal tunnel, injury or other, pain in the wrists can make even life’s smallest chores a source of frustration. Topical joint pain relief is especially effective for wrists because the source of pain is generally very close to the skin, allowing the product to absorb directly where pain relief is most needed. This is an especially good option for anyone looking for topical arthritis pain relief.
Neck pain is one of the most common ailments patients report – from sports-related injuries, tension, poor sleeping position or even bad posture. Using a topical cream to treat neck pain allows active ingredients to penetrate the skin and get right to the aching muscles, lessening discomfort almost immediately. Especially for those with temporary injuries or ailments, topical muscle pain relief offers an effective remedy with few side effects.
Biceps and Triceps
These arm muscles can become strained, inflamed or injured from repetitive motion, overuse, tendonitis or tears. Whatever the source of pain, a topical pain relief cream can offer near instantaneous relief – because these muscles sit close to the skin, the active ingredient can penetrate directly into sore muscle fibers to bring relief.
The large deltoid muscle gives the shoulder its full range of motion and allows you to lift your arm. The deltoid sits in the upper part of your arm and is connected to the shoulder and collarbone via a complicated system of tendons. Muscle pain, soreness, tenderness, swelling and inflammation of the deltoids can come from a variety of sources, including sports injury, overuse or other trauma. It’s fairly easy to feel where the deltoid muscle sits beneath the skin, making it a prime area to target with a topical pain relief product.
Irritation of the lower back muscles can lead to stiffness, inflammation, tenderness, swelling, and pain that make even the simplest day-to-day tasks a challenge. Treating the area with a topical pain relief cream can loosen sore muscles and allow you to move throughout the day with more ease. But be careful with expectations – because topical back pain relief creams are best suited for targeting muscles that sit close to the skin, it’s very difficult for them to penetrate deep enough to address inflammation and pain associated with the deepest muscles and joints of the lower back.
Because it is a joint very close to the skin’s surface, the knee is a prime candidate for topical pain relief. Knee issues are extremely common – caused by sports injury, repetitive motion, excessive strain or overexertion, and having a topical knee pain relief option to help relieve stiffness, swelling and discomfort can keep you in motion while dealing with an injury or even chronic pain.
Ankles are complex mobile joints that serve as the foundation of your body’s kinetic chain. As with most joints, they can be irritated by a variety of injuries, and also by either over-pronation or –supination – causing your foot to jam either the outside or inside of the joint. Luckily, the ankle joint sits close to the skin, so topical pain relief creams can be tremendously effective here.
Pain in your feet can be debilitating. Some people suffer edema, or swelling, painful inflammation and/or soreness and tenderness in the toes, soles, and heels. Because the skin of the feet is typically thin and the sore muscles beneath sit close to the skin’s surface, a topical pain relief remedy can be particularly effective.
Elbow joint pain is an aggravation whose most typical culprit is the condition known as “tennis elbow,” an injury that includes minor tears and inflammation in the tendons at the elbow end of the extensor carpi radialis brevis muscle. The resulting irritation can put stress on the rest of the arm, making it difficult to lift things, and it is relatively common – in fact, approximately 30 percent of the population suffers from this condition. Using a topical cream on the outside of the elbow where pain may be most concentrated gives many users temporary relief while sore muscles and tendons heal.
Pain in the hands is most likely a result of osteoarthritis, and if not treated, can make life’s routine tasks frustrating challenges. Swollen joints from arthritis are not only painful but also can limit your ability to use your hands effectively. Because topical creams for arthritis pain relief can directly target those painful joints, they are often used as a first-line defense against arthritis pain.
Living with pain, whether from a temporary, short-term injury or a chronic condition, isn’t easy. In fact, chronic, unrelenting pain can take a heavy toll, even linked to an increased likelihood of depression. The stronger your pain-management arsenal, the better your overall quality of life.
Anyone managing pain on a day-to-day basis will want as many pain relief options as possible, with as few side effects as possible. Thankfully, a whole host of topical pain relief products exists – especially if you can’t, or just don’t want to, take pills to control pain. But keep in mind that what works for one patient may not work for another, so it’s worth the time and effort to try several different topical pain relief creams to identify what works best for your particular type of pain.
Ultimately, topical pain relief creams can be a key part of your pain-management regimen and offer an effective option for managing muscle and joint pain. They are easy and low-risk, without the side effects commonly associated with oral pain medications.
There are many forms of arthritis. Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and others which all cause joint pain. Arthritis pain in your hands is extremely uncomfortable and can prevent you from doing simple daily activities, like buttoning your shirt or opening the toothpaste cap. Hand exercises can help relieve arthritis pain and keep your fingers moving. This article will talk about why hand exercises for arthritis are beneficial. It will also give you several range-of-motion exercises that you can do at home. We have given these exercises fun names to help you remember them.
8 Hand Exercises for Arthritis
- Palms Up, Palms Down
- Wipe the Table
- Yoga Hands
- Bend the Wrist
- Four Finger Salute
- Fingertip Touch
- Roll the Carpet
- Swinging Door
How Hand Exercises Help Relieve Arthritis Pain
Regardless of what form of arthritis you have, the most common symptoms are joint pain and stiffness. If you have arthritis in your hands, you may experience this pain and stiffness daily. The loss of cartilage and/or inflammation of your joints make your hand and finger muscles, tendons, and ligaments stiff and painful. If you do nothing, this process will continue to become more severe until your muscles and tendons lose their flexibility. This will cause your joints to lose range of motion, limiting your hand function.
One way to combat the pain and stiffness that arthritis causes is to complete stretching exercises every day. These stretches, also called range-of-motion exercises, help to keep the muscles, tendons, and ligaments of your hands at their normal length so that your wrists, hands, and finger joints will continue to move normally. Range-of-motion exercises also help to keep the fluid moving through your joints. This lubricates the surfaces of the joint structures and makes sure that everything moves without that rubbing or grinding feeling.
Certain exercises have the same effect on your tendons, preventing them from sticking or catching on other tendons. When completed daily, range-of-motion exercises help to control pain and stiffness and preserve hand movement.
General Guidelines for Completing Arthritis Hand Exercises
There are a few simple rules that you should follow when completing range-of-motion exercises for arthritis. Following these guidelines will prevent you from causing more problems as you exercise.
Let pain be your guide. The old saying “no pain, no gain” does not apply here. If an exercise hurts a little bit, that’s okay, but if it hurts a lot, you are overdoing it. Back off on how much you move your joint. If the exercise is very painful even when you move a little, then stop that exercise.
Don’t over-do it. You may feel a little sore after doing hand exercises for arthritis, especially after the first few times. This feeling should go away within 2 hours of completing exercises. If it doesn’t, you did too much. Try reducing the number of repetitions that you do, then gradually increasing those repetitions as you get used to exercising.
Complete exercises slowly and gently. Don’t push on your joints to get them to move farther. This can actually damage your joints and your tendons, especially if they are actively inflamed. Your movement will increase gradually, so have patience.
If exercises seem to cause more pain than pain relief, then you might need more help. Stop these stretches and contact your doctor. He or she may recommend physical or occupational therapy to help you with your hand function. It is better to play it safe and seek professional help if the pain is too extreme.
Pain-Relieving Hand Exercises for Arthritis
Try this hand exercise program for help relieving joint pain and stiffness in your wrists, hands, and fingers. Try to do these exercises every day to keep your hands moving.
1. Palms Up, Palms Down
This exercise will stretch the long muscles and tendons that attach to your wrists. Start with your elbows by your side. Bend your elbows until they are at a 90-degree angle and your hands are positioned with your thumbs on top (like you are getting ready to shake hands with someone). From this position, turn your hands until both palms are facing up. Hold this position for a slow count of 5. Then turn your hands in the opposite direction until your palms are facing down. Again, hold for a slow count of 5. Repeat this exercise 5 to 10 times for help with wrist pain.
2. Wipe the Table
The goal of this exercise is to stretch the long and short tendons and ligaments that attach at the sides of your wrists. Sit at a table or desk, or stand at a waist-high countertop. Place your hands and forearms on the top of the table with your palms down. Without moving your forearms, bend your wrists toward your thumbs so that your hands slide toward each other. Hold for a slow count of 5. Then bend your wrists in the opposite direction so that your hands slide away from each other. Hold for a slow count of 5. Repeat 5 to 10 times.
3. Yoga Hands
This exercise helps to stretch the tendons and ligaments that bend your wrists and fingers. It also helps with carpal tunnel syndrome, relieving swelling, pressure, and improving grip strength. With your elbows bent, place the palms of both hands together with the tips of your fingers just touching your chin. Keeping your palms together, gently slide your hands toward your chest until you feel a stretch in both wrists. Hold for a slow count of five. Slide your hands back to your chin. Repeat 5 to 10 times. If this is uncomfortable, here’s an alternate way to do this stretch: start with your elbows relaxed and your palms together in front of you, fingers pointing forward. Keeping your palms together, gently move your hands toward your stomach until you feel a stretch in both wrists. Hold for a slow count of 5, then move your hands away from your stomach.
4. Bend the Wrist
Use this exercise to stretch the tendons and ligaments that straighten your wrists and fingers. Start with one elbow bent and your palm facing down. Gently bend your wrist down until your fingers are pointing toward the floor and you feel a stretch on the back of your wrist. Place your other hand on the back of the first hand and hold it in position for a slow count of 5. If you do not feel a stretch on the back of your wrist you can gently push your hand down until you do. Be careful not to push too hard. After counting to 5, straighten your wrist. Repeat 5 to 10 times on each wrist.
5. Four Finger Salute
This exercise will stretch the tendons and ligaments in your thumb, improving mobility. Start with your elbows bent at your sides and your hands positioned with fingers straight and thumbs on top. Stretch both thumbs away from your hand until they are pointing toward the ceiling. Then move your thumbs in a circular motion across your palms until they are touching just below the little fingers. If you can’t move your thumbs this far, move them as far as you can. Once you touch, slowly reverse the motion until your thumbs point to the ceiling again. Perform this motion slowly to get the best stretch. Repeat 5 to 10 times.
6. Fingertip Touch
Your ability to pinch and manipulate small objects should improve when you do this exercise regularly. Start with your elbows bent at your sides and your hands positioned with fingers straight and thumbs on top. Slowly move your thumbs and index fingers until the tips touch, then move them back to starting position. Repeat 5 to 10 times with each finger.
7. Roll the Carpet
This exercise helps keep the tendons that move your fingers lubricated, preventing them from rubbing or sticking on other structures as they move. Your range of motion in the small joints of your fingers should also improve with this exercise. Start with your elbows bent at your sides and your hands positioned with fingers straight and thumbs on top. Starting with your fingertips, slowly bend the joints of your fingers and curl your fingers in toward your palm until they are fisted, or “rolled” like a carpet. Your thumbs should stay relaxed. Once you have curled your fingers into your palm, slowly reverse the motion to straighten your fingers, or “unroll” the carpet, until your fingers are in starting position. Repeat 5 to 10 times.
8. Swinging Door
Just like Roll the Carpet, this exercise keeps the tendons that move your fingers lubricated and moving smoothly. Start with your elbows bent at your sides and your hands positioned with fingers straight and thumbs on top. Slowly bend your knuckles as far as they will go, then bend the middle joints of your fingers until your fingertips touch your palm. Do not curl your fingers in, but “swing” them toward your palm like a swinging door. Your thumbs should stay relaxed. Once your fingertips touch your palm, reverse the motion until your fingers are straight. Repeat 5 to 10 times.
Methods That May Help Relieve Arthritis Pain as you Exercise
Because of the way arthritis affects the body, you may benefit from additional pain-relief methods as you exercise. Your joints may flare-up or stiffen and you might be tempted to skip exercises on those days. However, skipping exercises can result in your joints becoming more painful. A better alternative is to use other pain relief methods in addition to exercise. Here are a few ideas:
Over the counter anti-inflammatory medication. Pain relief medication such as ibuprofen is designed to reduce inflammation in the body, relieving arthritis pain. If you have swollen joints, you may want to take some anti-inflammatory medication about a half hour before you exercise. Be sure to consult your doctor before taking any over the counter medication.
Heat or cold. If your joints are very stiff and sore, try applying a hot pack or soaking your hands in warm water before you exercise. You can even do hand exercises in warm water if it helps. If your joints are red, warm and swollen, apply a cold pack before exercising. This can help reduce the swelling and make the movement more comfortable.
Use a topical pain relief treatment like Arthritis Wonder. This medication contains Wogonin, a powerful anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving compound that is FDA approved. Arthritis Wonder was developed by Dr. David Kooyman, a microbiologist who also has arthritis and has made the relief of arthritis symptoms his life’s work. Arthritis Wonder is available on this website.
Arthritis in your hands can be uncomfortable, painful, and can limit your activities. By completing range-of-motion exercises every day, you can control pain and stiffness, making movement easier and preserving your ability to complete daily activities. Follow these exercises and recommendations every day to relieve arthritis pain in your hands.
Individuals with arthritis are well aware of the chronic inflammation associated with the disease. But did you know that the wrong diet can worsen your arthritis symptoms? Some foods can actually increase inflammation and the painful symptoms of arthritis.
If you suffer from arthritis, it’s important to avoid these six inflammatory foods:
- Red Meat
- Fried Foods
- Processed Foods
- Refined Grains
What are inflammatory foods to avoid?
Arthritis refers to the inflammation and breakdown of cartilage in one or more joints, which can lead to chronic inflammation and joint pain. This pain can be devastating to an individual’s health and overall well-being. If you’re suffering from arthritis, it is important to take steps to reduce inflammation. One such method is to adjust your diet.
It is important to understand which foods to add to your diet, and which foods to remove, in order to help reduce the chronic inflammation of arthritis. Researchers have found several types of food that can worsen your arthritis symptoms. We’ve compiled a list of the top six inflammatory foods which arthritis sufferers should avoid.
1. Red Meat
When considering inflammatory foods to avoid, red meat may not be the first one that comes to mind. In the past, red meat has often been considered part of a healthy diet. After all, some types of red meat are high in protein, vitamins, iron, and zinc— all of which are required by the human body to build muscle, bone, and maintain the vital systems which keep our bodies running effectively. But red meat can also have a negative effect on the human body and actually increase inflammation. The reason for the inflammatory effect is because, along with protein, vitamins, iron, and zinc, red meat also contains high levels of saturated fats and compounds referred to as advanced glycation end products (AGEs), both of which can trigger inflammation.
By eating red meat, individuals with arthritis are consuming substances which can further their chronic inflammation. It would be wise to minimize the amount of red meat and fatty acids in your diet or avoid it altogether if you can.
Much like red meat, dairy foods may not be the first ones that come to mind when thinking about inflammatory foods to avoid. It has long been believed that dairy foods can be beneficial to one’s health. After all, who doesn’t remember their mother making them finish their glass of milk when they were younger, so they can grow up to be healthy? In some respects, mom was right, and dairy foods do offer health benefits. Dairy foods are rich in protein, vitamins and are a great source of calcium and potassium. These nutrients are required by the human body to maintain the delicate systems which keep the body working.
However, similar to red meat, dairy foods— especially high-fat dairy foods like some cheeses, butter, and margarine— contain high levels of saturated fats and AGEs. This causes reactions in the human body which lead to inflammation. Therefore, you’ll want to be very careful when consuming dairy foods, and pay close attention to your body’s reaction.
Take note of how you feel when consuming dairy products and adjust your diet accordingly. A glass of milk may be fine to have every once in a while, but eating high-fat cheeses at every meal will almost certainly cause inflammation and worsen your arthritis pain. In the long run, you’ll feel better if you can remove all dairy products from your diet.
3. Fried Foods
Unlike with red meat and dairy products, it should be no surprise to find fried foods on this list. Fried foods have long been associated with unhealthy eating. Mom may have told us to finish our milk so we can grow up to be healthy, but she most likely never told us to finish our fried food so we can grow up to be healthy.
Fried foods are often high in trans fat and AGEs. Although it may taste delicious, this unhealthy food can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and, most importantly for arthritis sufferers, inflammation. Fried foods can be a major contributor to inflammation, leading to increased arthritis pain.
It is important for arthritis sufferers to steer clear of fried foods altogether. Despite being delicious, the negatives attributes of fried foods far outweigh any benefits. In addition to the unhealthy effects of trans fat and AGEs, fried foods also lead to weight gain when eaten on a regular basis.
Weight gain can further complicate the symptoms of arthritis. As arthritis sufferers know all too well, arthritis can lead to pain, stiffness and decreased mobility. Any additional weight gain beyond your recommended healthy weight can lead to increased pain and stiffness as well as decreased mobility. Fried foods can negatively affect your health, overall well-being, and quality of life. Keep away from fried foods and replace them with healthier alternatives when making your diet modifications.
4. Processed Foods
Arthritis sufferers should also avoid processed foods. The term processed food may refer to any food that has been deliberately changed by the addition of chemicals or by other means before it is available for consumption. Processed foods can include breakfast cereals, canned vegetables, canned fruits, baked goods, and prepackaged meals. Much like fried foods, processed foods often contain high levels of trans fat, which leads to painful inflammation. Therefore, processed foods, even though they can offer a certain level of convenience, should be avoided whenever possible.
Arthritis sufferers seeking to avoid the trans fats found in processed foods should always look for the term hydrogenated oil on suspected processed food labels. Hydrogenated oils should be avoided, as they contain trans fats and will likely lead to inflammation and increased arthritis pain.
As with fried foods and perhaps even processed foods, it should be no surprise to see sugar on this list. It has been well established that sugar is “bad” for us. Was there ever a time when we thought sugar was good for us? Maybe as children attempting to live out our dreams of entering Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. But outside that fantasy, consuming large quantities of sugar is most definitely a detriment to our health and overall well-being.
Eating sugar can lead to diabetes, heart disease and yes, painful inflammation. The refined sugars found in chocolate, candy, and soda can initiate the release of specific proteins found in the human body which leads to inflammation. Therefore, even though it may be very difficult, arthritis sufferers should avoid sugar whenever possible.
6. Refined Grains
Refined grains should also be avoided if you suffer from arthritis. Refined grains are typically found in foods such as white flour and white rice. When eaten, refined grains can lead to elevated blood glucose levels, which in turn cause inflammation. Consequently, arthritis sufferers should avoid foods consisting of refined grain from their diet. Additionally, foods which contain refined grains may also aggravate gluten sensitivities in those who possess gluten allergies.
Gluten can refer to the substance in certain grains which is responsible for the elastic properties of some types of dough. When ingested by those sensitive to and/or allergic to gluten, it can trigger a host of symptoms including fatigue, cramping, gas, nausea, a skin rash and, most notable to those with arthritis, inflammation.
Unfortunately, many individuals with gluten allergies are often unaware of their condition. Therefore, it is important for everyone suffering from arthritis to determine if they indeed have a gluten allergy. Keep an eye out for the signs and symptoms of a gluten reaction. Your primary doctor may refer you to an allergist who can help confirm a possible gluten allergy.
If you’re suffering from arthritis, be sure to avoid refined grains. And if you are also diagnosed with a gluten allergy by a physician, you should carefully avoid products containing gluten as well. The gluten-free movement is growing, and there are a large variety of foods you can eat while on a gluten-free diet.
How to avoid inflammatory foods?
We’ve talked about a variety of pro- inflammatory foods which arthritis sufferers should avoid. But changing your diet is never easy, and avoiding popular foods can prove to be quite a challenge. The question remains, what is the best way to avoid inflammatory foods?
One of the best methods for making diet modifications is to use an approach often referred to as the substitution method. The substitution method employs the strategy of replacing inflammatory foods with anti-inflammatory foods, such as leafy greens, vegetables, almonds, walnuts, tomatoes, olive oil, cherries, strawberries, blueberries, and fatty fish like salmon. The substitution method can help you to avoid the inflammatory foods which increase the symptoms and pain associated with arthritis.
Avoiding inflammatory foods and adopting a natural anti-inflammatory diet can go a long way to help manage the inflammation and pain of arthritis. This is especially true in conjunction with other remedies for arthritis symptoms, such as exercise, anti-inflammatory drugs, and the use of an effective product like Arthritis Wonder cream. When applied to affected areas once a day, the wogonin contained in Arthritis Wonder will relieve osteoarthritis pain in as little as 5 minutes.
Chronic inflammation and pain negatively affect your health, mobility, and lifestyle. Arthritis can be a debilitating disease, but there are treatments and remedies like Arthritis Wonder that can help. One great way to improve your symptoms is to change your diet. By understanding which inflammatory foods to avoid, you can help minimize your arthritis symptoms and improve your overall quality of life.
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Do you become stiff and sore just from watching TV? Do your joints make odd, creaking noises? If you have these symptoms, you may have osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis, often abbreviated OA, is the most common form of arthritis in the United States. This article will discuss osteoarthritis signs and symptoms. Read on to find out more.
8 Common Osteoarthritis Symptoms
- Joint Pain
- Joint Stiffness
- Grating or Clicking in a Joint
- Loss of Flexibility
- Joint Swelling and Inflammation
- Joint Tenderness and Oversensitivy
- Bone Spurs
- Joint Instability
What is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis that occurs when the cartilage that coats the inner surfaces of a joint begins to break down and wear away. This results in the bones of the joint rubbing against each other, causing osteoarthritis symptoms. Osteoarthritis can occur in just one joint or in multiple joints. Because osteoarthritis is a disease in which the joint gradually degenerates, it is also called degenerative arthritis or degenerative joint disease. This article provides a good overview of what osteoarthritis is and how it is treated.
The most common cause of osteoarthritis symptoms is age, with over half of Americans age 65 and older showing evidence of osteoarthritis in at least one joint. Age is not the only consideration, however. Other factors that influence the development of osteoarthritis signs and symptoms include heredity, past joint damage from sports or work injuries, repetitive motion (wear and tear) injuries, obesity, and joint deformities such as knock knees. Gender is an additional factor that correlates with age. Prior to age 45, osteoarthritis is most common in men, usually due to injuries that occurred during sports or physically demanding careers. After age 45, osteoarthritis occurs more commonly in women. The reasons for this appear to be hormone-related and may have something to do with menopause and the higher rates of obesity among women. Studies have shown that osteoarthritis of both the knee and hip joint is higher for women than men.
Signs and Symptoms of Osteoarthritis
There are a variety of symptoms that may indicate you have osteoarthritis. Here are the eight most common signs that your pain and discomfort are caused by this degenerative joint disease:
1. Joint Pain
Joint pain is the most bothersome of all osteoarthritis symptoms. Severe pain can significantly limit participation in daily activities, and even mild joint pain can affect how a person does things from day to day. Since osteoarthritis involves the degeneration of cartilage in a joint, discomfort is usually limited to that joint. The amount of pain depends on how long osteoarthritis has been affecting the joint and how it is used.
Osteoarthritis symptoms of the hip and knee are usually the most noticeable and painful due to the weight-bearing properties of those joints. Hip or knee osteoarthritis can result in the limited ability to walk, stand, and move around during daily activities. Spinal osteoarthritis symptoms can also be very painful, disrupting sleep at night and creating problems when moving from lying to sitting or sitting to standing. Basic daily activities such as bathing and dressing can be disrupted by osteoarthritis pain in these joints.
Osteoarthritis symptoms in the hands can affect the ability to grip objects with force or to handle small objects. Opening jars and buttoning buttons can become a problem when osteoarthritis hand pain occurs. Joint pain may also become more severe after long periods of activity.
2. Joint Stiffness
Stiffness from osteoarthritis occurs when an affected joint has been at rest for some time. When the joint is finally moved, the range of motion is noticeably limited, and movement is difficult and painful. As the joint moves more, movement becomes easier and range increases. Most people with osteoarthritis notice this stiffness first thing in the morning when they get out of bed. The affected joints have not moved for about eight hours and they are very stiff, making bending, standing and walking difficult. Osteoarthritis stiffness also occurs after sitting or standing in the same position for long periods, such as spending long periods at one workstation, traveling long distances in a car, or holding a phone in one position to talk for long periods.
3. Grating or Clicking in a Joint
People with osteoarthritis may often feel a grating or grinding sensation in a joint. This is caused by bone rubbing on bone as the cartilage that lines the joint wears away. The pain and stiffness that results from the degeneration of the joint also cause supporting tendons and ligaments to stiffen as they work to support the joint. This stiffness causes the tendons and ligaments to snap or stick as they move through the joint, creating a clicking or cracking sound. The more grating and clicking felt in a joint, the more advanced the degeneration is in that location. According to the Arthritis Foundation, grating sensations are most often felt in affected knee joints.
4. Loss of Flexibility
As pain, stiffness, and signs of degeneration progress, joints affected by osteoarthritis eventually lose flexibility. Instead of loosening up and moving more after periods of inactivity, the joint will move less and activity will be limited. Long-term spinal osteoarthritis leads to an inability to bend to touch toes, put on shoes, or pick up items from the floor. Knee osteoarthritis can result in the inability to squat, climb steps, or sit in a chair without doing some interesting acrobatics to get down and up. Osteoarthritis in the neck can lead to a loss of flexibility that makes it difficult to turn the head while driving.
5. Joint Swelling and Inflammation
Swelling of joints affected by osteoarthritis is usually mild. However, sometimes fluid will build up around a joint as a result of the osteoarthritis process, leading to inflammation and visible swelling. This happens most often with the knee joint, resulting in a condition called knee effusion or fluid on the knee. Bursitis, a condition in which a fluid-filled sac that surrounds the structures of a joint becomes inflamed, can also cause increased swelling in a joint. While osteoarthritis does not directly cause bursitis, people with osteoarthritis are at increased risk of developing bursitis in an affected joint.
6. Joint Tenderness and Oversensitivity
If severe osteoarthritis pain exists in a joint for a long time, eventually the nerves around that joint become overly sensitive. This can lead to an extension of the pain beyond the structures that are directly affected by osteoarthritis, resulting in pain and tenderness when the area is touched. Oversensitivity can make it uncomfortable to wear certain types of clothing or sit on certain types of furniture. It can also be difficult to shake hands or give someone a hug.
7. Bone Spurs
Bone spurs are a result of the body’s natural attempt to repair a joint affected by osteoarthritis. As the cartilage in a joint wears away, the body creates bone to repair the affected area. This results in bone spurs. The symptoms of bone spurs are different depending on their location. Some spurs are in areas where they are not noticeable and a person may not even know it is there. Bone spurs in other locations are more problematic. A bone spur near a tendon may end up rubbing against that tendon, causing tendonitis. This can occur when bone spurs form due to osteoarthritis of the shoulder, resulting in rotator cuff problems. Bone spurs that form in the small joints of the fingers cause knobs at the ends of the fingers, making the fingers appear bumpy. A bone spur in the spine can lead to spinal stenosis, which may restrict the spinal cord. Spinal stenosis must often be corrected with surgery.
8. Joint Instability
As osteoarthritis flare-up symptoms occur again and again, the joints deteriorate to the point where they become unstable. Advanced osteoarthritis symptoms can cause the joint to buckle or give way under stress. Osteoarthritis in a knee can lead to the knee collapsing as the person climbs steps. Osteoarthritis shoulder symptoms can cause the arm giving way while reaching for a heavy item on a shelf. Osteoarthritis in the hands makes it easier to drop what you’re holding. For some people, osteoarthritis joint instability creates the need for assistive devices, such as walkers, wheelchairs, or home modifications.
What to do About Osteoarthritis?
If you have early symptoms of osteoarthritis, such as pain, stiffness and mild swelling, don’t delay treatment. Some people chalk these symptoms up to “getting old” and they feel nothing can be done. That is not true. Many treatment options now exist for osteoarthritis signs and symptoms, so a visit to your local general practitioner is in order. For mild symptoms, your doctor may prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) and may give you recommendations regarding diet, pain-relieving exercises, and lifestyle changes. If you have severe osteoarthritis symptoms, your doctor may refer you to a rheumatologist — a doctor who treats patients with joint diseases. A rheumatologist may complete more thorough testing and prescribe more specialized treatment for your osteoarthritis symptoms.
Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications can be helpful as well. Arthritis Wonder is a topical medication developed by Dr. David Kooyman, a microbiology professor at Brigham Young University. What is Dr. Kooyman’s interest in osteoarthritis? He has it himself! His work to develop Arthritis Wonder stemmed from his own suffering with the disease. He created the formula for Arthritis Wonder using Wogonin, a natural compound that targets the pain receptors in the joint, preventing pain signals from reaching the brain. Wogonin also has powerful anti-inflammatory properties. It is registered with the FDA and available on this website.
In addition to your doctor’s recommendations, you can take action to relieve your osteoarthritis symptoms yourself. There are many home remedies, activities, and lifestyle changes that you can explore to help relieve joint pain, stiffness, and other osteoarthritis signs and symptoms.
Osteoarthritis is a disease that will likely affect us or someone we love. That doesn’t mean we are all destined to live lives limited by pain and stiffness. Learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis. If they occur, you will know to act before it is too late.