Protecting Your Joints
If you're overweight, the extra pounds could be partially responsible for your joint pain. Carrying too much weight has been proven to worsen osteoarthritis of the knee. In addition, excess weight may prevent you from being as active as you could be, limiting range of motion and leading to stiffening of the joints.
Certain nutrients have also been shown to reduce the irritation associated with arthritis, and slow the progression of the disease. Physicians on staff at St. Joseph Hospital are experts who can explain how nutrition can play a role in treatment.
Regular exercise not only helps reduce weight, but also builds and preserves muscle strength and joint flexibility that can prevent further joint damage. People with joint pain should exercise when they have less stiffness or pain, so they are more comfortable. Orthopedic physicians on staff at St. Joseph Hospital work with you to develop an individual treatment plan that includes the right combination of activity for your condition. Your doctor will help identify range-of-motion exercises to maintain joint mobility and improve function, strengthening exercises to stabilize weak joints, and endurance exercises to promote heart health and build fitness.
There are a number of different types of medication that can reduce both pain and irritation in joints. Orthopedic specialists on staff at St. Joseph Hospital will work with you to determine which medication is the best treatment for your condition.
- Analgesics - Pain relievers, including acetaminophen, can provide temporary relief from common arthritis pain.
- Anti-inflammatory medications - Medications such as Advil, Aleve, Celebrex and Vioxx reduce both pain and swelling. These medications are available with or without a prescription.
- Corticosteroids - Available in injection or pill form, physicians prescribe this medication to reduce severe pain and swelling. Although they bring quick relief, corticosteroids can only be used sparingly because they weaken bones and cartilage.
- Disease modifiers - These drugs can slow the progress of rheumatoid arthritis disease for several weeks or months. A doctor must prescribe the medication and carefully monitor the patient.
Orthopedic specialists on staff at St. Joseph Hospital will teach you how to avoid putting excess stress on your joints, as well as give you instructions to avoid further joint damage. You can learn how to better position your joints; how such assistive devices as canes, crutches or walkers can help reduce stress on hips and knees; and how weight control helps reduce the stress on your joints.