Arthritis is one of the most prominent conditions suffered by the elderly. Studies show that 1 in 4 elderly people in the US suffer from some type of arthritis. The most common types of this condition are rheumatoid, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, lupus and gout.
It is reported that the annual expenditure projected for this ailment is approximately $81 billion. Being physically active improves mobility by at least 40% while also decreasing the pain levels.
Pain can also be cushioned by being active in the disease management programs offered. However, only 1 in 10 patients partake in these programs, the number would increase if medical practitioner recommendations were higher.
Arthritis is the main cause of joint pain, stiffness and probable disability in the elderly not associated with aging. To help alleviate discomfort, here are 16 arthritis pain relief techniques to help you have a better and pain-free day.
1. Joint protection
The main thing that should be done by arthritis patients is to protect their joints. Regardless of the extent of the condition, joints must always be protected. This applies even when performing daily tasks. It is best to avoid lifting heavy things, walking for way too long or wearing high heels. These activities put a strain on the joints and worsen the pain. Heels exert too much stress on the knees and ankles, steering away from them will be very helpful.
Make use of ankle and/or knee guards when exercising. When working out joints move around a lot thereby increasing friction ergo the catalyst to pain. Wearing guards will restrict and support them when making these movements.
Also, avoid joint compromising positions such as tight gripping or pinching and exerting too much pressure on them. Using alternative methods will help relieve pain. For example, using appropriate tools instead of fingers and using both hands when lifting anything below waist level. Not forgetting bending at the knees, not the back.
Self-hypnosis technique would be the gentlest way to soothe yourself and alleviate chronic pain caused by the arthritis conditions. It may be hard to engage in this pain relief method, considering the amount of pain. This is because it needs a lot of focus and attention to be able to feel the relief effects. However, with learning to relax and proper practice the effects are rewarding.
Self-hypnosis doesn’t involve convincing yourself that you are not feeling the pain. Rather, it involves being able to eliminate fear and discomfort associated with it.
This enables you to relax and divert attention away from the painful sensation you will be feeling. The process starts by focusing on your breathing to calm you down.
When feeling relaxed start imagining a beautiful and peaceful place or your favorite place. This will stimulate positive thoughts and feelings hence soothe you from the unhelpful focus of the gnawing pain.
Physical activity is another way to help relieve arthritis pain. It does not only improve the physical body, but also an emotional aspect. Even when having pain, a good chance of mood helps to redirect yourself from the sensation. Heading for the gym when feeling a little unease helps with pain relief. However, you should avoid doing extreme exercises or lifting heavyweights.
In the gym, walking on the treadmill for about 20 minutes and stretching will be enough, nothing intense. Other exercises that can be helpful with pain are swimming, cycling and nature walks. Incorporating exercise into the daily routine will be more effective on the symptoms.
But, it is important to first confirm with your doctor if it’s safe to do any exercise. Exercise doesn’t only mean going to the gym or running outside, it also means being active anywhere you are. It can be cooking or gardening or just walking your dog.
This is the most obvious way people use to ease arthritis pain. This is because it is usually effective in reducing inflammation which is the main cause of the pain. There are various types of pain relievers offered both over the counter and under prescription. The most common are anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen.
Even though effective for easing arthritis pain, it is not recommended to take them in high doses or as a long-term pain relief solution. Therefore, you just need to take them as per the doctor’s instructions and also only when needed.
Topical creams, ointments, and gels are also arthritis pain relievers. The application is to rub the topical NSAIDs (a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) onto the painful joint area. Applying a little pressure when rubbing, until you feel the heat sensation is the most effective way of getting results. These are considered better than the oral NSAIDs as they don’t cause any gastrointestinal side effects.
5. Move around
A simple pain relief technique that has proven to work is moving around. People who don’t have any joint problems or arthritis-related pain also experience stiffness of the joints when they stand or sit in one position for a long time. When the pain starts to flare up when sitting or in bed, move around. As mentioned above on exercise, being active relieves pain.
If both sitting and moving around increases the pain, consider alternating the two to prevent stiffness and aching. There are some jobs that require people to be seated such as office jobs. In these instances, try taking frequent breaks or if possible try to work whilst standing up and move around during tea or lunch breaks.
Incorporate simple stretching with moving around. This technique will not only alleviate pain, but also reduces swelling, stiffness, and fatigue which are commonly the main causes of pain.
6. Taking a warm bath/sauna/shower
This has always been a traditional medicine for joint pain. It usually works with the accompanying salts and minerals. Even without, this technique still works wonders on relieving pain. A study illustrated that soaking in warm water does the trick on most musculoskeletal pain, including arthritis. It allows sufficient blood flow to the painful joints.
The main element that instigates the pain relief process is the heat. However, moist heat has better effects than dry heat, hence using warm water. This is because moist heat penetrates deeper and works faster than the heat from the heating pads thereby providing relief from arthritis pain.
Even though heating pads can be used, most pharmacies have pads that only provide temporary relief. But, taking a warm bath, getting in a sauna or soaking hands in warm water provides long lasting-effects of relief. The water should be warm, not hot to avoid initiating new health problems, namely, burns.
Pricking the skin with needles stimulates the production of endorphins, which act as pain relievers. This Chinese method involves pricking the skin with needles, placing them along the body meridians to release energy. The blood flow is increased to the pricked area thereby getting rid of excess and unwanted substances that cause pain in the body such as lactic acid. This method can be applied to painful joints, especially on the back or on the knees.
Some people have aichmophobia which is the fear of sharp objects such as needles. If this is the case, acupressure can be done instead. This refers to the application of pressure using mainly fingers, palm or knuckles. It has the same effects as massaging. These techniques are appropriate for any type of arthritis pain.
However, if you know that you are on blood thinners or undergoing chemotherapy; this method would not be recommended. There would be high risks of bleeding and infections.
8. Use a cane
Most people associate a cane with a disability, but this acts as a great support for those with arthritis problems. When walking, the body weight is mostly exerted on hips, knees, and ankles. If you use a cane, 20% of that weight gets supported by the cane, therefore, decreasing the pain on these joints.
You should, however, choose the right cane for your weight. These come in various sizes. It’s ideal to choose the one with the right function and safety. With the correct usage, the cane should be able to improve balance and support the lower body weight.
When walking, the weaker side or parts should move in unison with the cane so that the load is shared. Most people mistakenly think using it on their weak side is the right way to do it. It should go on the strong side so that it moves simultaneously with the weak and relieve the pain.
9. Use paraffin wax
Just like in sports injuries, using paraffin wax helps reduce arthritis pain caused by inflammation. Research shows that paraffin wax eases the pain and stiffness of osteoarthritis. In sports, paraffin loosens up the hands and finger joints and reduces pain before exercising. This is the same effect it has on arthritis-related pain.
For this technique to be effective, the main things needed are 4lb of paraffin wax, 1 cup of mineral oil and the paraffin bath or crockpot. For the feet, you will often need something larger. Make sure to wash your hands or feet with soapy warm water before treating it with wax.
When dipping the hand or foot into the paraffin, avoid getting in contact with the base or sides of the pot. Doing this at least 20 minutes will helps reduce joint pain. Take precaution with this technique as if you have poor blood circulation then it is not an ideal solution for you.
Sometimes pain can be increased by the inability to rest or disturbed sleep patterns. The reverse is also true as sleep can be disturbed by having too much pain, therefore, making the pain worse. This can be a nightmare, especially, if you’ve spent the day trying to fight the need to rest due to sleep deprivation.
Also, arthritis medication can be the main cause of insomnia. If this is the case, consider talking to your doctor about it. But, in the meantime, you can get help from sleeping pills. These will help you sleep without difficulties, hence making you numb to the pain.
In order to have a good rest and ease the pain, the mind has to be relaxed. You can achieve this by incorporating the self-hypnosis method. Relaxing reduces fatigue and strain that comes with the condition, giving yourself enough time to rest will be rewarding. However, avoid having too much of it, as the body will start feeling pain again.