There's no one single cause for arthritis. Certain types of arthritis are caused by a gradual wearing of the joints, leading to a painful condition where bones grind against one another. This form of arthritis is called osteoarthritis, and it commonly affects seniors. Other types of arthritis, like rheumatoid arthritis, are caused by an autoimmune disorder. All types of arthritis can cause joint damage and pain when left untreated. Fortunately, there are effective treatment options for patients of all ages. Here are four ways a doctor can help you manage arthritis pain:
1. They can give you advice about over-the-counter medication.
Over-the-counter painkillers are NSAIDs, which reduce inflammation in painful parts of your body. The anti-inflammatory action of these drugs makes them effective for treating mild to moderate arthritis pain. However, overuse of NSAIDs can lead to unwanted consequences, such as liver damage or stomach pain. Your doctor can advise you on the safe use of over-the-counter pain-relieving medication. They may suggest you switch to a longer-lasting NSAID, such as naproxen, if you're currently using medication like ibuprofen.
2. They can prescribe DMARDs.
A DMARD is a disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug. It is a common treatment for arthritis. While DMARDs don't address your pain directly, they are still an integral part of any arthritis pain management plan. These drugs halt the progression of arthritis in your body, which can preserve your joint function and also lessen your pain over time. Your doctor will prescribe DMARDs and modify your dosage as necessary until you achieve the desired results.
3. They can suggest healthy habits.
Medication is useful and necessary when it comes to managing arthritis pain. However, drugs alone won't give you the relief you need. Incorporating healthy habits into your life can reduce your pain levels to allow your medication to work more effectively. If you're overweight, you may be exacerbating your arthritis unintentionally. Excess body fat places additional stress on your joints. Losing weight can reduce your pain levels. Gentle, regular exercise can keep your body limber and discourage stiffness in your joints.
4. They can prescribe highly effective pain medication.
The pain of arthritis doesn't stay constant from day to day. While NSAIDs may sometimes provide all the pain management you need, you may occasionally need something stronger. Your doctor can write you a prescription for effective pain medication. The most potent painkillers are often opiates, which can be addictive when used improperly. Your doctor will coach you on the proper use of prescription painkillers to find relief from your nerve pain.