Osteoarthritis is something that many of us have to live with and we have to find effective ways to relief from joint pain. This is especially so for people who are at their late age. Since this is always a long-lasting problem, it is necessary to tackle it effectively to be fit and active.
“Unfortunately, physicians cannot do much to decelerate the progress of osteoporosis,” says Elinor Mody, MD, medical co-director of the Center for Skin and Related Musculoskeletal Disease at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “And it is also true that patients don’t contribute much in worsening the ailment faster.”
While the patient can manage osteoarthritis on his own, at times, medical assistance is necessary. It is needed to get relief from joint pain and manage the disease from a long term perspective. So, when do you seek medical advice?
Before going on an exercise program.
For people suffering from osteoarthritis, following a prescribed exercise regimen assiduously is critical for getting relief from joint pain. It strengthens the muscles; thereby reducing the strain on the joints and helps to prevent injury. The exercises for people with osteoporosis are different from those who are young and fit. So, don’t go by what the gym trainer says; instead consult a physiotherapist, who will advise the exercise regimen suitable for your physical condition.
When the pain hampers your normal activities.
When your joints hurt so much that you can’t go on your regular golf game or are forced to skip your daily jogging in the morning, it is time to seek medical help. If the pain is unbearable, hampering your normal physical activities, then you should immediately get relief from joint pain from your physician. The pain can be reduced through doses of cortisone or other such drugs.¡¨
Other ways to get relief from joint pain include:
- Using orthodontics – These are shoe-inserts that can absorb the shocks produced during walking, protecting the hip and knees.
- Knee bracing – it gives stability to the knee-joints.
- Ice therapy – The pain and swelling in the affected joints is alleviated by applying ice packs to it.
- Use of topical analgesic to reduce the pain.
- Use of over the counter pain relievers.
“Surgery is also an option,” says Mody. “It is not wise to delay it for too long as you may not recover fully if there is development of muscle atrophy and joint contraction.”
When assistive devices are needed to relief from joint pain.
Make necessary changes in the immediate surroundings to facilitate easy movement inside your home. Certain minor changes and renovation like fixing the handles in the doors, placing a shower chair in the bathroom can go a long way in bringing in a qualitative change along with safety.
You can even consult an occupational therapy referral or a home safety evaluator. “They have specific devices that can make it easier for the limbs to do their works. For instance, for people with arthritic hands, such devices are available for writing with pencil or pen, opening jar lids etc.,” opines Mody.
When your movements become impaired.
A fall is always a big risk osteoarthritis patients and invariably the reason behind this is ill-fitting foot wears. In such cases, wearing customized shoes is necessary.
“Gone are the days when arthritic patients were reconciled to wearing ugly-looking orthopedic shoes. Consult your doctor and fix up an appointment with a podiatrist,” reveals Mody.
According to Mody, delay in seeking medical help is a major stumbling block for the treatment of osteoarthritis as it can result in the loss of muscle mass and once you loss the movements you previously have; it is very difficult to regain it. So, in case you can’t decide if you have reached a stage warranting medical attention, think over the following questions:
- Are you able to get in and exit a car without much discomfort?
- Are you able to put on your shoe all by yourself?
- Are you able to tie the shoe laces?
“Proper hip-rotation is essential for the above-mentioned activities. So, if you have difficulty in going through all these chores, then you should consult your doctor. Unlike the hip, people generally report the discomfiture in the knees sooner. That explains why I rarely come across cases of knee contracture,” says Mody.
One final point to think about: Are you able to go though the motion of your daily activities smoothly? If not, do not delay in getting relief from joint pain.