Arthritis affects many worldwide. The most common causes being – Primary or Degenerative arthritis. Secondary arthritis due to an underlying disease process such as inflammatory arthritis
Pain due to arthritis is debilitating leading to loss of productive man hours .Initially the pain is usually mechanical in origin i.e. during walking, standing or any activity which involves movement of that joint. As the disease progresses, the pain is there at rest also. A coexisting symptom is stiffness i.e. feeling of heaviness or difficulty in moving the joint after prolonged period of inactivity such as after overnight sleep.
Arthritis is a progressive disease and as the disease progresses so do the symptoms. The intensity and character of pain differ during different stages of the disease .In early stages the intensity of pain and stiffness is less with longer periods between remissions.
As the disease progresses the intensity and duration of pain and stiffness lasts longer with fewer intervals between remissions. In advanced stages of arthritis with complete loss of cartilage the symptoms are the severest with no relief even with medications. Along with it are associated deformities and inability to walk even for shorter distances. It leads to decreased quality of life and an increase of lifestyle diseases such a obesity, hypertension and diabetes.
How to relieve joint pain?
In early to moderate stages, to alleviate the symptoms of arthritic pain one can adopt the following measures with varying degree of relief in different individuals.
-Rest is an integral part of treatment in early to moderate stages. Rest does not mean a complete bed rest but a curtailment of your routine activities.
– Physiotherapy and pain relieving modalities .Pain relieving modalities are recommended in acute stage followed by quadriceps strengthening exercises once the pain is not there. One is advised not to sit cross legged or squat. Alternative therapies such as acupressure, ozone treatment, magnetic therapy etc. have no scientific basis and are not recommended.
-Anti inflammatory agents help to alleviate pain and reduce synovitis though they are riddled with side effects if taken over longer duration.
-Intra articular steroids are an effective modality for pain relief in acute condition. However long term use is not recommended.
-In advanced stages with deformities all this measures just give a temporary relief with permanent solution being a knee replacement surgery.