THURSDAY, April 20, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- There are more than 100 types of arthritis and related conditions, and they affect at least 54 million adults and 300,000 children in the United States, according to the Arthritis Foundation.
Fortunately, there are also many medications, non-medication options, lifestyle changes and surgeries available to help you manage arthritis pain and other symptoms.
“We’ve really come a long way in the past decade in terms of helping our patients live relatively symptom-free lives,” Scripps Clinic rheumatologist Dr. Kavitta Allem explained in an interview for San Diego Health.
Let’s take a look at the most common arthritis treatments recommended by experts, whether they're for osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or psoriatic arthritis.
The Arthritis Foundation lists six main types of medication to help treat arthritis symptoms:
“Biologics have really changed the face of juvenile arthritis,” he said, explaining that the medication helps reduce children’s reliance on wheelchairs and crutches.
For additional on arthritis medications, American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) spokesperson Maura Iversen recommends the Arthritis Foundation’s Drug Guide as a useful tool to help understand ”what the medication is, what it targets in your body, how long it takes to work, [and] what are some potential side effects.”
Non-medication arthritis treatments
There are several natural ways to manage your arthritis pain. The Arthritis Foundation states that eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, applying heat and cold to your joints, and taking short 15-minute breaks to rest throughout the day can help improve your symptoms. Research published recently in the Annals of Internal Medicine showed that even light exercise can help ease the pain of arthritic knees and give you wider range of motion.
Therapies for arthritis include massage, acupuncture, biofeedback and cognitive behavioral therapy. The foundation also recommends working with a physical therapist to improve your posture and range of motion.
Iversen, who is also dean of the College of Health Professions at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn., pointed out that when physical therapists create an exercise plan, they consider the type of arthritis you’re diagnosed with, where in the body it manifests, its severity and whether you’re in remission or are experiencing a flare-up.
“All of that is taken into account, into the individual exercise programs that a physical therapist would prescribe,” she explained.
“The YMCA has a long, long history, at least in my 30-year career, of partnering with the Arthritis Foundation to offer aerobic programs for patients with arthritis,” she noted. “There’s also a walking program [and] we are fortunate nowadays with mobile apps where you can download a health app.”
Arthritis surgery treatments
Dr. Paul DeMarco, Rheumatology Fellowship Training Program Director at the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), explained that “surgery can be very helpful in the right situation, and especially important before joint pain affects sleep, results in an inability to exercise or causes the joint to be limited.”
You have several surgery options to choose from to help treat your arthritis pain, depending on how it affects your body, according to the Arthritis Foundation:
If you’d like more information on arthritis treatments, Iversen recommends the APTA’s ChoosePT and Find a PT resources. You can also check out Arthritis Foundation’s Treatment Guides for additional therapies and surgeries to help improve your arthritis pain.
SOURCES: Paul DeMarco, MD, Rheumatology Fellowship Training Program Director, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS); Maura Iversen, PT, DPT, MPH, dean, College of Health Professions, Sacred Heart University, Fairfield, Conn.
Have arthritis and in pain? Experts outline the various treatments, lifestyle changes and surgeries that can help.