Arthritis is a term used to describe more than 100 forms of this degenerative joint disease. If you’ve been diagnosed with arthritis, you’re one of more than 50 million adult Americans afflicted with some form of this condition.
In addition to joint pain, symptoms of arthritis typically include stiffness, swelling, and decreased range of motion. The impact of arthritis on your ability to perform daily activities is so common that arthritis ranks as the leading cause of disability in the United States.
Achieving relief from arthritis symptoms starts with an accurate diagnosis of your joint pain.
Board-certified orthopedic surgeon W. Joseph Absi, MD, of Orthopaedics of Atlanta and Aesthetic Institute in Smyrna, Georgia, is an arthritis treatment specialist with more than 20 years of experience helping patients get relief from debilitating arthritis symptoms.
Based on your medical history, a physical examination, and diagnostic tests, Dr. Absi determines the cause of your symptoms and the best treatment for your condition. Depending on your condition, you may benefit from one or more of the following arthritis treatment options.
Being overweight increases your risk of joint pain or arthritis. The link between joint health and weight is so dramatic that an obese individual is 60% more likely to develop arthritis than someone of average weight.
The joints in your knees, hips, and spine are most susceptible to weight-related wear-and-tear.
At any weight, your knee joints support a load equivalent to four times your body weight when you stand or walk.
Every pound you gain adds 4 pounds of force to your joints, and losing weight decreases the load at the same rate. Losing just 10 pounds can reduce the load by 40 pounds, which can help restore normal function, reduce pain, and slow the progression of arthritis.
Consuming a balanced diet and adequate amounts of water can help you improve energy levels, maintain a healthy weight, and improve your well-being, which can help you feel better overall.
Consuming foods that have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and analgesic properties may help reduce arthritis-related inflammation and pain.
The “Mediterranean diet” is an example of an anti-inflammatory diet that may have a positive impact on your symptoms. Generally, the following dietary modifications can help reduce chronic arthritis pain and promote long-term health:
- Avoid added sugars, processed foods, and trans fats
- Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and beans
- Add foods with omega-3 fatty acids, like wild salmon
Avoid red meat, sardines, and bacon if you have gout, a form of arthritis caused by too much uric acid in your blood.
While these dietary modifications may help relieve your arthritis symptoms, it’s important to consult with a medical professional before making significant changes to your diet.
Daily exercise can make an impact on improving arthritis symptoms. Range-of-motion exercises can help keep joints and muscles flexible. Aerobic exercises promote cardiovascular health and help maintain a healthy weight.
While walking is a perfect exercise for all types of arthritis, swimming and bicycling are also beneficial. Strength exercises can help relieve symptoms because they build supporting muscles that can absorb stress from damaged joints and help stabilize them.
Physical therapy and occupational therapy
Physical therapy can help you get back to performing everyday activities without difficulty. It can help you increase your range of motion and strength with an exercise plan designed for you.
Occupational therapy can teach you how to reduce strain on your joints with instruction on proper movement techniques. An occupational therapist can also recommend assistive devices for tasks like driving, dressing, bathing, and housekeeping to make it easier to live normally.
Dr. Absi may recommend medications to relieve pain and inflammation. An analgesic, like acetaminophen, can reduce pain. Prescription analgesics include tramadol and opiates such as hydrocodone and codeine.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are effective for both inflammation and pain. Over-the-counter NSAIDs include ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen sodium. Stronger NSAIDs, like celecoxib, diclofenac, or fenoprofen, may be prescribed.
If conservative treatment like medications, physical therapy, and lifestyle modifications can’t relieve joint pain and disability, you may be a candidate for joint replacement. Joint replacement surgery exchanges the damaged joint for a prosthesis made of plastic, metal, or both.
Total hip and knee replacement surgeries rank among the most successful operations performed, with an annual failure rate of 0.5-1.0%. Joint replacement can involve extensive rehabilitation, but the results can relieve pain and restore normal function.
Don’t let arthritis symptoms prevent you from living the life you desire. Find out more about the best treatment options for your arthritis pain. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Absi, call our office or make an appointment online.