Arthritis Pain - Topical Treatments, Physical Therapy & More!
It's a cold winter day, and your joints are aching. Do you have arthritis, or have you been stressing your joints to the point of pain? Whatever the cause, you're looking for relief. If you've just overstressed your joints, rest, and possibly an analgesic treatment are all you need. If you've got arthritis, the treatment is more involved.
What is Arthritis, Actually?
Arthritis is characterized by pain and stiffness in the joints, sometimes accompanied by redness and swelling. It comes in two main forms: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is usually associated with aging; it results from the deterioration of cartilage in the joints, to the point where the bones are scraping against one another. This toughens any remaining cartilage, and can cause bone spurs to develop. Rheumatoid arthritis is not age-related; it can occur in very young children, but primarily attacks young adults between the ages of 20 to 40. Rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune disorder, in which the body's own immune system attacks various parts of the body as though it were an infection, destroying healthy tissues in the process. Osteoarthritis can also occur after a joint injury. Scar tissue forming over the broken are can lead to early osteoarthritis. Other factors involving early formation of osteoarthritis include repetitive stress, and being overweight.
How Do You Treat Arthritis?
So, how do you treat your arthritis? The first step is: knowing which type you have. The physical treatment for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis is very similar, but the medications for the two are radically different in the allopathic world. If you have rheumatoid arthritis, your doctor will most likely prescribe some heavy-hitting medication normally associated with chemotherapy – just in smaller doses.
For osteoarthritis, the doctor will prescribe analgesics to relieve the pain, and will most likely start with the ones available over-the-counter. These include: aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and sodium naproxen, known by more common brand names such as Bayer, Tylenol, Advil or Motrin, and Aleve. These over-the-counter NSAID drugs do relieve arthritic pain, but do nothing to slow down the disease's progression. If the over-the-counter crowd does not alleviate your pain, or stops giving you relief, the doctor will move to the prescription NSAIDs, such as Feldene, or Celebrex. These will provide pain relief to most patients, but they, and the over-the-counter NSAIDs as well, come with some nasty side effects. The first of these is stomach pain. If you're not careful to take an NSAID with food, the drug irritates the lining of your stomach, and can lead to ulcers. Physicians will commonly prescribe an acid reducing agent along with the NSAID, to try and prevent this problem. Other known side effects of NDSAID drugs are liver and kidney damage. Effective topical treatments for osteoarthritis are readily available in the allopathic pharmacopia: Aspercreme Cream, Ben Gay, Icy Hot, and Blue Emu are the most well-known. Blue Emu is actually an organic-based product, derived from the oil of the Emu. It has crossed over from the health food market to become commonly available in retail drug stores, grocery stores, and big box retailers alike. It, and Aspercreme are odorless, allowing you to uise them at any time of day, and Blue Emu has great skin penetration, allowing the medication to easily reach the joint.
Physical treatments for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are similar. They include range-of-motion exercises, designed to move a joint to its full extent without pain or stress. Other physical therapies include isometric and isotonic exercises, aerobic exercises, strength-training, hydrotherapy, topical analgesics, and hot/cold therapies. These are all very effective, and give the patient more control over their disease. Staying active and exercising is a positive mood builder, and a positive attitude is very important when dealing with any chronic disease. Your physician may also prescribe wearing a support brace for any joints with osteoarthritis. The support given by something as simple as an Ace bandage allows a patient to use the affected joint without further damage, and provides pain releif as well. Osteoarthritis patients can suffer sharp pain in the joints when the weather changes, and wearing a support brace helps alleviate the discomfort.
The allopathic world is by no means the only game in town. One of the most effective treatments for osteoarthritis is glucosamine sulfate. Glucosamine has been studied extensively in Europe, and is the first treatment European physicians reach for when treating osteoarthritis. Glucosamine is both an analgesic and a disease-inhibiting agent. Glucosamine sulfate actually creates new cartilage in the joint, and can slow down the progression of osteoarthritis. It is also a pain reliever, but it takes longer than an over-the-counter NSAID to provide relief. However, glucosamine, once it starts providing pain relief, continues to do so, while the OTC drugs reach a plateau, and eventually stop providing pain relief to the patient. There are other herbal analgesics available as well, both ones taken internally and ones used as topicals. These include chondritin sulfate, arnica (topical), allspice, Devil's Claw, bosweila, MSM, and a host of others. Compounds containing mixtures of these natural supplements can be found on the Internet. Three of the best sites for joint relief products are Dr. David Williams's site, Dr. Julian Whitaker's site, and GVI. Dr. Williams has a compound containing glucosamine sulfate, along with several other herbs known to provide joint relief. GVI has two products, Arthro 7 and Mega MSM, which, when used in conjunction with each other, provide significant relief from the pain of osteoarthritis.
Arthritis has no cure; it's incredibly painful as it progresses, and can become debilitating as we age. Rheumatoid arthritis can be debilitating from the get-go, and can be much harder to treat, as it is an auto-immune disorder. As hard as arthritis is to live with, it's understandable why sufferers are willing to try almost anything promising long-term relief or a cure. Curing arthritis is not possible at this point, so definitely employ caveat emptor if you're looking at supplements or therapies promising you an end to your arthritis pain for good. Most likely, they'll be putting an end to your bank account and not doing you any good pain-wise. Alternative treatments for osteoarthritis exist, and they work – usually far better than the ones prescribed in the allopathic world of medicine. You need to be an educated consumer, however – there are as many charlatans and quacks swimming in the alternative world as there are in the mainstream medical community. So, educate yourself and work with a qualified practitioner to come up with a treatment that works – for you.