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Arthritis pain relief

A review on arthritis, its causes and the traditional and alternative therapies to fight arthritis pain


A common cause of joint pain

  Arthritis is perhaps the most common cause of joint pain, although not the only one. It is a chronic disabling condition that affects joints (such as elbow or knee), the tissues surrounding joints, as well as other connective tissues.


By definition, arthritis means an inflammation of one or more joints, usually accompanied by pain, swelling, stiffness and redness of the overlying skin and often leading to deformity and/or disability of the involved joints. Nevertheless arthritis is not always inflammatory in origin.


Forms of non-inflammatory arthritis include traumatic arthritis (developing after injury) and osteoarthritis. The last, also known as degenerative joint disease, is the most common form of arthritis. It usually begins after the age of 40 and is characterized by gradual degeneration and progressive loss of articular cartilage in the involved joints, as well as by changes and overgrowth of the underlying bone. The exact cause of osteoarthritis has not been conclusively determined, but potential causative factors include metabolic and mechanical factors, as well as aging.   


The Inflammatory process

Inflammatory arthritis can result from infection, gout or an autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis or systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE or lupus). Bacterial infection and gout can cause acute arthritis, while rheumatoid arthritis is the most common form of chronic inflammatory arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis can begin at any age and is believed to be the result of a faulty immune response against self-antigens in the joints. The inflammatory process primarily affects the lining of the joints, and leads progressively to a secondary damage (erosion) to cartilage and bone, and sometimes to joint deformity.


Reducing the pain and improving joint mobility

Regardless of the form, arthritis has no cure and is therefore a chronic condition. The treatment focuses on relieving symptoms (especially pain) and improving joint function. Treatment for non-inflammatory arthritis includes a combination of physical therapy, use of pain medications and weight control (if overweight), while treatment for inflammatory arthritis also includes anti-inflammatory medicines (corticosteroids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines or NSAIDs), disease-modifying anti-rheumatic medicines (DMARDs), as well as biologic agents, a relatively new class of medicines.


The aim of pain management in patients with arthritis is to relieve pain, improve joint mobility and help patients cope with a chronic, often crippling disease, which may lead not only to disability but also to stress, depression and a poor quality of life. However pain treatment is not always easy. Not all prescription medications work the same for everyone, so sometimes multiple types of treatment are needed. In addition certain prescription medications can work for a period of time and then become ineffective, so there is a need for a change.


Treatment can also include alternative and complementary therapies, such as massage, acupuncture, acupressure and use of over-the-counter topical pain medications (e.g. creams, gels or patches). Research studies suggest that these methods may offer temporary relief from arthritis pain. However, just like prescription medications, they don't work the same for all people.


All things considered, arthritis pain management can benefit from the use of a variety of symptomatic medicines and remedies. However it is always necessary to consult with a physician for specific individual treatment, whether it involves prescription medications or alternative and complementary therapies.


Patients with arthritis have to take medications for the rest of their life, so it is important that expatraites consider adequate International Health Insurance coverage before the disease occurs.


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