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Arthritis: The pain, the problems and how to live with it

By Anitha Arockiasamy, President, IHHC| October 27th, 2017

People who suffer from arthritis just cannot figure out why there is no cure for this condition. Even alleviating the pain is a challenge. Walking a few feet can be exhausting and can reduce otherwise stoic people to tears. Standing in one place, for more than a few minutes, causes an extreme fear of falling. Not to mention climbing up or down stairs – I believe being given the third degree would be preferable.

What is arthritis?

  • Constant joint pain and swelling
  • Stiffness in the joint
  • Tenderness or pain on touching a joint
  • Problems with moving a joint normally
  • Warmth and redness in a joint

Dear reader: Do you suffer from arthritis? How do you treat it? Have you been successful in controlling the pain? Do share your stories with us – and find out what other arthritis sufferers have to say.

Types of arthritis

Osteoarthritis: The most common type of arthritis, especially in elders, osteoarthritis starts when the cartilage (the padding inside the joint) starts to erode. Symptoms range from stiffness and intermittent mild pain, to severe joint pain that keeps on hurting even while resting or sleeping.

Rheumatoid Arthritis: This type of arthritis leads to inflammation of the joints, causing severe pain, swelling and stiffness that lasts for hours. An autoimmune disease that attacks the lining of a joint, rheumatoid arthritis can occur in different joint sat the same time. People with this form of arthritis often feel unwell, be generally tired and sometimes run a fever.

Gout: An attack of gout begins with the formation of uric acid crystals in connective tissues and/or joint spaces. Gout generally attacks the big toe, but can affect other joints, including the ankle, elbow, knee, wrist, hand, and other toes. One of the most painful forms of arthritis, gout leads to swelling, redness, heat, pain, and stiffness in the joint. The swelling causes the skin to pull tightly around the joint, turning the whole area red or purple, making it very tender to the touch. Gout attacks are most often caused by eating foods high in iron, such as shellfish, liver, dried beans, peas, spinach, meat and alcohol.

Treatment options

Although there is no permanent cure for most forms of arthritis, there are many ways for treating the pain and the swelling. Finding the best treatment can be a long process. The choice of  treatment depends on:

  • Type of arthritis
  • Severity of the symptoms
  • The person’s general health
  • Plus other factors such as diet, exercise routines, etc.

Each type of arthritis requires a different treatment, but there are some common remedies, which include:

  • Rest
  • Exercise
  • Eating healthy
  • Learning the right methods of using and protecting the joints

The hot and cold treatment: Apply either heat or cold for not more than 15 minutes at a time. Use warm towels, hot packs or hot water bottles for heat.For the cold treatment, use cold packs that will helpto numb the painful area. Use an ice pack or iced towels, which can be moulded to the shape of the joint.

Over-the-counter creams: Over-the-counter creams or non-prescription analgesics may help relieve the pain of mild arthritis. The relief is temporary and the cream must be reapplied at regular intervals.

Exercise: One of the best treatments for arthritis is regular exercise.  Daily exercise, such as walking or swimming, will keep joints moving, reducing the pain, making themuscles around the joints stronger and  more flexible.

Weight Loss: Losing weight helpsto reduce pressure on the joints, thus reducing the pain and increasing flexibility.

Do talk to us about any issues you or the elders in your family may be facing due to the debilitating effects of arthritis. We would really like to hear from you – and you could be helping others who may be facing the same situation.

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