How to Deal with Osteoarthritis Pain

Osteoarthritis, or Degenerative Bone Disease, is the most common form of arthritis and is usually caused by wear-and-tear of the body or by injury and results in pain and stiffness of the joints. In this article, we will present an overview of the many techniques for handling pain and give you some ideas for how to deal with osteoarthritis pain.

Exercise is the most frequent non-drug recommendation for easing the pain of osteoarthritis. That seems counter intuitive when it hurts just to walk to the mailbox but with some trial and error, you will be able to determine which forms of exercise will work best for you.

One of the goals of exercise is to build the muscles that support the joints that are affected by osteoarthritis. A physical therapist will be able to recommend exercises to improve range of motion as well as building strength.

Start Slowly. If you are not used to exercising regularly, start slowly and work your way up. Thirty minutes of aerobic exercise, five times per week is a good goal. Ten minutes at a time, three times each day may be easier for you than doing all thirty minutes at once and is just as beneficial.

Suggested exercise: For some, an exercise bike works well while others prefer walking or more gentle water aerobics. There are many possibilities and it may be more fun to mix them up a bit. Tai Chi and Yoga are both low-impact and may be good options for you to consider.

Rest and avoid activities that cause pain. Listen to your body’s cues. Exercise is vital but it is also important to balance it with adequate rest and to avoid overusing your body in ways that will worsen pain.

Lose weight to take the stress off of your joints, especially the knees. Even 10 pounds can make a big difference in mobility and pain level. In addition, losing weight contributes to an overall feeling of well-being. The Meditteranean Diet and Keto Diet are both recommended for patients with arthritis.

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Apply heat. Heat relaxes muscles and eases the pain of osteoarthritis. Applied before and after exercise, it often prevents pain and stiffness. There are many types of heating pads available for purchase or you can make your own by wetting and microwaving a towel and placing it in a plastic bag. Hot showers, Jacuzzi, or hot tubs are also options.

Cold packs are helpful for many people but are most useful to treat swelling. Sometimes, alternating heat and cold will relieve pain. Again, it’s best to experiment to find out what works best for you.

Massage is great for relaxation which alleviates pain and stiffness and allows for better range of motion and flexibility. In addition, massage decreases stress which contributes to an overall feeling of well being.

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Meditation: An eight-week study at UVA concluded that meditation is helpful in reducing the pain of knee osteoarthritis. Meditation is something that can be done independently and safely without the aid of a therapist or guide.

Change your shoes to reduce the force exerted on knee joints. Shoes with flat soles, such as sneakers or flip-flops are most recommended, although flip-flops are a poor choice for those with balance issues. Heels, even low ones, are not recommended. Clogs are another poor choice because they increase stress to the knees.

CBD oils have become a popular choice for relieving the pain and difficulty sleeping that is caused by osteoarthritis. You can read more about that in this article: How Does CBD Oil Help Arthritis?

Essential oils can be used in many ways to help alleviate the pain from osteoarthritis. Some oils are beneficial when applied to the skin, others can be consumed or diffused into the air to create a relaxing atmosphere. Deep Blue Rub is a topical creme from doTERRA that is made with essential oils and other ingredients to ease pain.

What you eat can have an impact on pain level. Choose plenty of fruits and vegetables, especially those that contain high levels of antioxidants. Omega 3 Fatty Acids may help reduce joint pain. Some foods reduce inflammation which often accompanies osteoarthritis. Vitamin C is an important component of bone health and vitamin D can help prevent cartilage from breaking down. Turmeric is often recommended as a natural relief for pain.

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Foods to avoid include sugar and saturated fats, which can cause weight gain and other problems such as inflammation or weakened cartilage.

Pain Medications

There are many medications that will relieve the pain of osteoarthritis, some available by prescription and others over the counter. They come in the form of pills, sprays, creams, lotions, or injections. Start with the options that have the fewest side effects at the lowest dose that provides comfort. It is important to discuss any preexisting conditions with your doctor to avoid complications.

Supplements

Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are natural components of cartilage and are available as supplements that seem to be safe and free from side effects. Although research results are mixed, they appear to offer excellent pain relief for some people. Methyl sulfonyl methane (MSM) is a less common option but has not been through as much testing. These supplements available over-the-counter, either separately or in combined form.

Analgesics

Next in line for safety would be analgesics, which relieve pain by blocking pain signals but they do not reduce inflammation.

Non-narcotic analgesics are available over the counter and include Acetaminophen (Tylenol, Panadol) which has the lowest number of side-effects when the recommended dose is not exceeded. However, when taken regularly with alcohol, Acetaminophen can increase the risk of liver damage. It is available in capsules, tablets, or liquid form. Ultram (tramadol) is

Topical Analgesics are sold over-the-counter and are applied to the joint externally. Common ingredients include wintergreen oil, camphor, and eucalyptus.

Opioid analgesics are made from the opium poppy and are powerful pain blockers but they also have many side effects and can be addictive. They may cause drowsiness, which makes it unsafe to drive or operate machinery while using them. Darvon (propoxyphene), Vicodin (acetaminophen/hydrocodone), and Percocet (acetaminophen and oxycodone) are commonly prescribed opioids.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are effective at reducing inflammation and pain but they have more side effects than acetaminophen. Some possible problems are stomach upset or bleeding, cardiovascular issues, and liver or kidney damage. NSAIDs are non-narcotic and therefore non-addictive and non-sedating. Talk to your doctor before taking NSAIDs long-term so that you can be monitored for side-effects.

These Oral NSAIDs are available over the counter, as are many others: Aspirin (Bayer or St. Joseph’s), Advil or Motrin IB (ibuprofen), Aleve (naproxen), Celebrex (celecoxib)

Topical NSAIDs such as aspercreme, are over-the-counter cremes and are rubbed on your joints with few side effects. Additional drops, gels, sprays or patches are available over-the-counter or by prescription.

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Injections

Injections of steroids such as cortisone, hydrocortisone, and prednisone are sometimes used to reduce inflammation and can provide relief for up to several months. These shots are usually only given two to three times a year, not more than four.

Hyaluronic acid injections can be given more frequently and are used for damaged cartilage.

In Conclusion

As you can see, there are many options to help in dealing with the pain from osteoarthritis. This is just a sampling to give you an idea of what topics are worthy of trying or researching in more depth.

In addition to the ones mentioned here, your doctor may also recommend the following: TENS unit: (Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation), peripheral nerve stimulation, pain pump, facet joint denervation, deep brain stimulation, or even surgery.

Please comment below and share your experiences with osteoarthritis pain and let us know if you have found other ways to alleviate the pain or discomfort.

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  1. Theresa, my mother is an osteoarthritis sufferer. She currently uses CBD oil and turmeric to cope with the pain. I advised her to lose weight, change her eating habits and start exercising but she is a very stubborn person. I hope your article will convince her to do all these necessary changes to improve the quality of her life. One question: if she reduces carbs will it be better? She is a carbs lover and I was wondering if they have any negative impact on her disease.

    1. I think most people would benefit from cutting back on carbs but I have not ever seen any information about carbs and specifically how they affect osteoarthritis. My mother-in-law is the same way. She’ll take her medicine but she will not do anything else to help alleviate her symptoms.

  2. Osteoarthritis can be a troublesome ailment. Chronic pain has so many negative effects on the body and the mind and it’s easy to stop being active with pain. Unfortunately, this will only make matters worse. Just like you pointed out, exercise and diet can help osteoarthritis tremendously and I would suggest anyone suffering from it to give them a chance before using strong pain medicines. Thanks for the tips and great content!

  3. Theresa,
    I have an injury on my foot that has left me with osteoarthritis pain after I walk for a while.
    Right now I use a combination of Turmeric, CBD oil, shoes with insoles and exercise to control the pain. I will look at some of the other things like my diet and meditation. I have used meditation for other issues before, I think if used properly, it can help with the mental side of dealing with the pain.
    Have you heard of Turmeric being good for arthritis pain before?
    John

  4. Hello,The pain of any kind is very disturbing to our body. It is best if we can take control of any minor health problems during its initial stage. Healthy diet and exercises will be the best remedies with no side effects. Even though I don’t have arthritis of any type, I experienced minor joint pains and muscle ache frequently. For that, I do exercise and oil massage but not regularly. This article is a reminder for me to follow a regular routine of exercise, meditations, massage, and of course, a healthy diet. Thank you for sharing this valuable post. Regards,Ranao.

  5. Great article …very comprehensive. Arthritis certainly is a difficult thing to deal with especially if you are in chronic pain. I will certainly try out some of the natural remedies as I really don’t like taking pharmaceutical except when absolutely necessary.
    Thank you so much for your help!

  6. I liked your article and that you covered every single option because something that works for one person may not work for another. I do think exercise is the best option if the person can handle it. I love that you mentioned Tai Chi. It has so many benefits and a lot of people don’t seem to know about it!

    Be Blessed,
    Shiloh

    1. That’s interesting. I had stopped using dairy a couple of years ago and only recently started to use it again. I have been wondering if it is contributing to my pain. I think I’ll cut back and see what happens.

  7. The problem is that a symptom is not a problem. The symptom is just a symptom, and the symptom is actually part of the solution. Symptoms are evidence that your body is cleansing or healing. If you suppress the symptoms you eliminate the body best way of dealing with something that causes the symptoms.

    Are you arthritis suffer?  ..gnarled joints..big knobs..serious pain. Are you suffering from serious pain? I would strongly encourage you to look to water only fasting.

    After fasting disfigurement disappeared and no pain for the first time.

    Have a nice day,

    Leo

  8. Helpful and Informative article! Yes, Osteoarthritis, or Degenerative Bone Disease, is the most common form of arthritis and is usually caused by wear-and-tear of the body or by injury and results in pain and stiffness of the joints. I also know prior to reading this article that it’s is a chronic (long-term) disease and there is no cure, but treatments are available to manage symptoms. on how to deal with it’s pain, Exercise is the most frequent non-drug recommendation for easing the pain of osteoarthritis, for some, an exercise bike works well while others prefer walking or more gentle water aerobics. There are many possibilities and it may be more fun to mix them up a bit. Also all those activities that can worsen the pain should be avoided, listen to your body’s cues. Exercise is vital but it is also important to balance it with adequate rest and to avoid overusing your body in ways that will worsen pain. Many ways on how to deal with osteoarthritis pain are been highlighted in the article as as cold packs, massaging, meditation and the CBD oils have become a popular choice for relieving the pain. All these arw helpful as I will love to suggest them to a person suffering it the pain. But anyone that would use any of these method so consult his doctor before making a move. Thanks for sharing this great information.

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