There are several traditional care options available that are the first line of treatment to help improve the pain and stiffness caused by arthritis. Most treatment plans will include a combination of these options, based on assessing several factors for the individual patient like severity of the arthritic, which joints are affected, nature of the symptoms, other existing medical conditions, age, occupation, lifestyle factors and everyday activities. In cases where the patient’s arthritis is causing significant pain, it is very important to address the arthritis pain and bring it down to a convenient level in order for the patient to continue with daily activities and preferably be able to participate in a reasonable level of treatment and exercise. Treatments and techniques include rest, heat and cold therapy and various medications for reducing pain or inflammation.
Temporary pain relief therapy
People with arthritis often find that warmth, through warm towels or hot packs applied to the joint, or a warm bath or shower, can relieve pain and stiffness in the joint. Heat is known to help reduce irritation and swelling in the joints and can help improve flow or inflammation. Water therapy in a heated pool or whirlpool may help as well. In some cases, cold, through cold packs or a bag of ice or frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel can relieve pain or numb the sore area. By applying heat for 20 minutes before doing an exercise routine or activity and following up with applying cold to the affected area afterwards will help alleviate activity and exercise related pain in the joints. A physical therapist should be consulted to determine if heat, cold or a combination is the best treatment.
Arthritis treatment and self-care
The decision to use either heat or cold for arthritis pain depends on the type of arthritis and should be discussed with the doctor or physical therapist. Moist heat, like a warm bath or shower, or dry heat, such as a heating pad, placed on the painful area of the joint for about 15 minutes may relieve the pain. An ice pack or a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel and placed on the sore area for about 15 minutes may help to reduce swelling and stop the pain. If there is a poor circulation of blood then do not use cold packs