Living With Arthritis Part II

Consult with your physician to determine a treatment plan for you

How is Arthritis Diagnosed?

Proper diagnosis, early detection, and treatment are important in successfully managing arthritis. Diagnosis is usually made following an evaluation of medical history and a physical exam.

X-rays may be used to help confirm a diagnosis or determine how much bone damage and cartilage loss exists.

A family doctor or primary care physician may be able to diagnose and treat common types of arthritis. You may eventually be referred to a rheumatologist, or arthritis specialist, for further treatment.

Consult your physician to determine a treatment plan that best suits your needs.

Can Arthritis be Treated?

    While there is no cure, arthritis is manageable and symptoms can be minimized. Early treatment results in less joint damage and pain.

  • Each individual may respond differently to various treatment options, but starting a combination of therapies as soon as possible seems to have the best effect.
  • A good treatment plan considers the severity of the condition, the joints affected, your age, activity level, and other medical conditions.
  • You and your physician should determine a treatment plan that best suits your individual needs.

By taking an active role in the treatment of arthritis, you can alleviate symptoms, prevent progression and improve the function of your joints.

Arthritis Therapy Options

Weight Control and ExerciseWeight Control and Exercise Help to Control Arthritis

Perhaps the best thing you can do! Control your weight to reduce strain on joints. Every pound gained means added pressure on the knees and hips (and more pain!). Exercise strengthens muscles and keeps the joints flexible to increase range-of-motion. Stretching also increases flexibility. Strong muscles help support joints. Range-of-Motion exercises, muscle-strengthening exercises and low-impact activities such as walking, bicycling or swimming are ideal.

Rest during periods of pain and support joints with braces and supports

Rest and Joint Care

During periods of pain or inflammation, joints are unstable and more prone to injury. Rest and limited activity will help prevent further damage to affected joints. Avoid repetitive motions when possible. Support and protect your joints with the use of over-the-counter braces. Assistive devices make work easier and prevent strain and stress on the joints.

Protect your joints with supports and braces

Arthritis Therapy Options

Pain Relievers

    • Drug therapy* may ease symptoms. Some drugs aim to reduce pain while others target
    symptoms and slow progression.

  • Analgesics relieve mild-to-moderate pain but do not relieve swelling or inflammation.

    Topical Analgesics help relieve pain of arthritis and other symptoms

    Topical Analgesics help relieve pain of arthritis and other symptoms

  • Topical analgesics are creams or rubs applied to the affected area to help
    relieve pain and other arthritis symptoms.

      There are three main types of topical analgesics:

    • Counter-Irritants – These topicals contain ingredients such as menthol, eucalyptus oil, or camphor that mask the pain by producing a warm or cool sensation to the skin. Some of these products may be combined with the other two types:
      salicylates or capsaicin.
    • Salicylates – Topical salicylates reduce inflammation and pain by blocking the release of a certain fatty acid that causes swelling. Since they work in the same way as aspirin, people who are sensitive to aspirin should consult a physician before use.
    • Capsaicin – Capsaicin is a natural substance found in hot chili peppers. In topical creams it gives warmth to the skin and surrounding area However, the real benefit is that Capsaicin works past surface pain to the molecular level. Capsaicin relieves pain by blocking the transmission of a pain-relaying substance called Substance P to the brain. Best results typically occur with 2 to 4 weeks of continuous use. Capsaicin is the most recommended topical for arthritis sufferers.
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including aspirin and ibuprofen, help reduce swelling, inflammation and moderate to severe pain.
  • Prescription medications may be incorporated into a treatment plan to treat a wide variety of symptoms.
  • Local steroid injections such as injectable glucocorticoids are injected directly into the affected joint for immediate and targeted pain relief.

Note:Medication should be taken as directed by a physician.

Thermal TherapyHeat or use of hot packs relax muscle around stiff muscles and helps relieve arthritis pain.

Heat, or the use of hotpacks, relaxes muscles around stiff joints and helps relieve deep, aching pain. A warm bath may help loosen joints and ease pain and stiffness.

Arthritis Therapy Options

lwa-braces-and-therapeutic-heatCertain supports and splints provide therapeutic heat directly to the tender, aching joint. Cold packs applied for no longer than 20 minutes will help reduce any inflammation and swelling.

Reduce Stress

Stress leads to fatigue, muscle tension and increased pain
that can intensify arthritis symptoms. Relaxation techniques
such as meditation or activities like yoga may help
relax muscles and release tension and stress.

Alternative Therapies

Vitamin C and other antioxidants may possibly help prevent
progression of osteoarthritis. A massage can decrease pain
and increase circulation. Other options may include yoga or


Surgery may be considered when other treatment options are not successful.

Remember, a treatment plan may need to change over time with any changes in the condition (such as progression or an improvement in the condition).