Arthritis is a term used to describe about two hundred different types of ailments that affect the joints and its cartilage and surrounding connective tissue. These diseases are progressive degenerative diseases and can be very painful. Because arthritis has such a vast range of causes and symptoms, the treatments are very varied. While some treatments work to ease the pain, others will slow down the progression of the disease, while still others help to repair some of the damage done to the joints. Modern medicine has developed a wide variety of treatments such as oral pills, topical creams and ointments, and surgery to help make living with arthritis a lot more bearable for the patient.
There is no cure for arthritis, but of course, there are many treatments and medications that can help with it. For example, the patient has to take painkillers and vitamins, and go to physical therapy to feel better. Also, people diagnosed with arthritis have to eat fish and eggs fewer times per week. The doctors will try to cure the patient with conventional medicine, by understanding and correcting the problems that are causing the symptoms. The patient may also try complementary medicine, including therapies that work alongside conventional treatments. The possibility is strong that alternative medicine can help in a case of arthritis.
The drugs that are used for arthritis can be divided in two groups:
- Drugs that directly treat the symptoms
- Drugs that treat the inflammatory disease
People diagnosed with arthritis are usually prescribed:
- Painkillers that reduce the pain in the bones and joints
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that reduce stiffness and swelling
- Steroids that can be injected into the joints and muscles
- Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs that treat the connective tissues
Kinds of physical therapy that can help arthritis:
- Hydrotherapy – The patients do exercises in warm pools. The water puts less pressure on the bones and joints.
- Physiotherapy – This type of physical therapy includes specific exercises that improve the strength of the muscles. It can be combined with pain-relieving therapy or massages.
- Occupational therapy – This involves practical advice for doing everyday tasks and useful tips for protecting the joints.
Sometimes, however, surgery may be necessary because the joint needs to be replaced.
There are also natural arthritis treatments that can ease the pain:
- Supplements and herbal drugs
- Vitamins and minerals
- Natural therapies
Black Currant Oil contains gamma-linolenic acid that can help with arthritis symptoms.
Other supplements and herbs that can help in case of arthritis: avocado soybean oil, borage oil, bromelain, cat’s claw, chondroitin sulfate, curcumin, DHEA, evening primrose oil, fish oil, flaxseed, ginger, glucosamine, melatonin, rose hips, St. John’s Wort, stinging nettle, turmeric, and valerian. The patient can find these supplements and herbs in the form of capsules, drops, spices, or tea. The chondroitin sulfate, in particular, helps with osteopathic arthritis.
Patients diagnosed with arthritis need to increase their intake of omega-3 fatty acids. They can eat food with rich in omega-3 fatty acids or take supplements. Fish oil capsules are a good choice, as long as one remembers to take them with food.
Herbal medicine is safe in cases of arthritis and the patient should visit an herbalist. Some types of teas or herbal drops are provided to be natural relievers of the symptoms of arthritis. The herbal medicine may control the infections and inflammation, but all the herbal supplements should be properly dosed and used.
The treatments and therapies for arthritis also include taking vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin C and vitamin D. Vitamin D regulates the immune response of the body and also maintains the calcium level that keeps the bones and teeth hard and healthy. A deficiency of vitamin D can soften the bones and this is why people with arthritis have to take additional doses of this vitamin.
How to increase vitamin D intake the natural way:
- Expose yourself to sunlight in the morning.
- If you can’t go outside, open the window or go to the balcony.
- Eat more fish.
- Eat raw food.
- Spend more time in the sun, even during winter.
- If you suspect that your levels of vitamin D are low, get tested.
- Read the medications' declarations and ask the pharmacist if your drugs are causing low levels of vitamin D.
The treatments for arthritis are as varied as the types of arthritis themselves. Osteoarthritis that is caused due to a breakdown in the cartilage in joints can be extremely painful. This breakdown could be due to normal wear and tear over the years or might be aggravated by an infection. A combination of painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs are used to treat this condition. In more advanced cases where the damage has extended to the bone, then joint replacement surgery might be recommended by the doctor.
Rheumatoid arthritis on the other hand is an autoimmune disease wherein the immune system of the body starts destroying the lining of the membranes that surround the joints. Because rheumatoid arthritis is also very painful, a combination of painkiller drugs and anti-inflammatory drugs similar to those used in osteoarthritis are also used to treat it. However, the treatment goes a step further by trying to arrest the immune action that is destroying healthy tissue and thus prevent the disease from progressing.
Gout is another form of arthritis and is caused by too much uric acid in the blood. This excess uric acid forms crystals in the joints, making them stiff, swollen, and painful. Gout, too, requires pain and inflammation management but this kind of arthritis also requires uric acid levels to be kept under control. Gout is usually treated with corticosteroids. Watching one’s diet and consuming plenty of fluids are also recommended for treating gout.
As mentioned earlier, there are different types of arthritis and each has a different cause and prognosis, and therefore requires a different set of treatments. However, most types of arthritis will require some form of painkiller drug or the other and some form of anti-inflammatory treatment. Alongside these medical treatments, massages, physiotherapy, and even joint replacement surgery are all used to treat arthritis as and when required.