The pain of osteoarthritis is related to cartilage loss due to wear and tear. While rheumatoid arthritis causes joint degeneration and severe, disfiguring inflammation within the joint itself, osteoarthritis isn’t degenerative. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt, but it is easier to manage than rheumatoid arthritis.
Over the Counter Options
If you’ve been diagnosed with osteoarthritis, it’s a good idea to keep acetaminophen or an NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) on hand for the roughest days. Brand names for common NSAID medications such as ibuprofen or naproxen are Advil and Aleve, respectively.
Because osteoarthritis is primarily a condition caused by wear and tear on the joints, prescription pain medications such as opioids may mask the pain but won’t ultimately be very helpful in restoring joint health. However, for severe bouts of pain, pharmaceuticals aren’t required but they can be very useful. It’s crucial that those who suffer from osteoarthritis do what they can naturally to reduce their pain and address their condition with as little pharmaceutical intrusion as possible.
You may be tempted to try the fancy new medication you saw advertised on TV, but instead of demanding it, talk to your doctor about which medication would be best for your individual needs. After all, these commercials aren’t made by doctors—they’re made by companies who want to make money.
Many who struggle with osteoarthritis find relief in the use of supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate. These products are found naturally in your own cartilage tissues. It should be noted that the effectiveness of these products is anecdotal, but for many who suffer from knee pain, these supplements can help. It’s also important to work to build up your core strength. If your feet, knees, and hips hurt, it can impact your gait and how your body weight balances out, which can put a strain on joints that weren’t hurting before.
Slow, low-impact exercise programs including tai chi and yoga are an ideal option. Many who suffer from osteoarthritis also gain relief from losing weight. It can be hard to get moving and build strength when your joints hurt, so consider finding an exercise program that lets you jog, walk or bounce in the pool instead of on the ground.
It should also be noted that eating a diet low in inflammatory foods can reduce your osteoarthritis pain level. Consider a diet high in antioxidants such as the Mediterranean Diet if your pain is getting in the way of your daily living.
Looking for a way to help others with osteoarthritis? Check here to find non-profit organizations that you can donate to or support.