You might be surprised to learn that there are many different types of arthritis out there. Osteoarthritis is the most common of all arthritis types and it is a degenerative joint disease that can cause pain and inflammation in many different joints. The most common joints affected by osteoarthritis include hands, wrists, hips, and knees, though it can occur in other joints as well. As you age, the general wear and tear on the body starts to build up over the years and can lead to degenerative conditions like osteoarthritis. For many people who suffer from this type of arthritis, the osteoarthritis treatment can be supplemented with at-home methods so you can get the most pain relief.
Understanding Your Osteoarthritis Diagnosis
Osteoarthritis occurs due to wear-and-tear on the tissues in the joint known as cartilage. This tissue typically serves to prevent the bones in the joint from rubbing together and help the joint move smoothly. When cartilage begins to break down over time, it can cause these bones to start rubbing against one another, which can be incredibly painful and uncomfortable. Joints affected by osteoarthritis are typically painful and swollen, affecting your ability to move the joint without increasing your pain and discomfort.
In order to diagnose you with osteoarthritis, your doctor will want to perform a physical examination of the joints where you are experiencing pain. They may also want to run lab tests and even diagnostic imaging tests to get a clearer look at the affected area. Diagnostic imaging tests like an X-ray or MRI can provide more detailed images. An X-ray will show your doctor the bones in the joint and help gauge the spacing and whether or not the bones are too close together. An MRI offers an even more detailed look at the cartilage and other soft tissues around the joint and how they may be affected as well.
Managing Osteoarthritis at Home
Once your doctor determines that osteoarthritis is the most appropriate diagnosis, they will develop a treatment plan to help manage and address your pain. While your doctor may want to incorporate periodic or even regularly scheduled visits for more treatment and therapy, they will likely also recommend at-home remedies that can help. Here are a few examples of how you can manage osteoarthritis at home:
Hot and Cold Therapies
Applying ice packs or cold compresses to your aggravated joints will help reduce swelling and even provide you with soothing pain relief. When you apply cold temperatures to an affected area, it actually temporarily restricts blood flow to the area so that swelling can go down. Alternating with applying a heating pad or warm compress will restore healthy blood flow to the area so that oxygen-fresh blood and nutrients can help support the healing process. When you apply heat to the area, it prompts your muscles to relax and helps to alleviate tension.
Stretches and Exercises
Talk with your doctor about stretches and exercises that you can practice at home to help with your osteoarthritis pain. Certain stretches can help promote healthy blood flow to the area and relieve tension. Stretches also help the supportive muscles and tissues that surround your joints so that they can stay flexible and mobile. Exercises also promote mobility and there are certain low-impact exercises that are gentler on joints, like swimming and yoga. Low-impact exercises also help promote heart-healthy habits and help you build up strength and endurance.
Depending on what joints are affected by osteoarthritis, your doctor may also recommend certain supportive or assistive devices. If you experience osteoarthritis pain and discomfort in your wrist, then your doctor may recommend a brace to help offer more support and stability to the area when you perform certain tasks or activities. If you have osteoarthritis in your knee joints, you may find that shoe inserts help to better distribute your weight and pressure. You may also find help from assistive devices like a cane to help with standing or walking. If osteoarthritis affects your hands and fingers, you might find gripping and grabbing tools to be helpful around the house.
At Alan Nathans Family Chiropractic, we recognize that while there is no cure for osteoarthritis there are still ways to help improve your daily life by providing you with natural pain relief opportunities. Visit us to learn more about osteoarthritis treatment and recommendations for optimizing your pain relief through at-home methods so you can enjoy your life again!