Arthritis is a common health condition in the United States, affecting one in four adults according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Characterized by the inflammation of one or more joints, arthritis can cause joint pain, stiffness and swelling that can limit one’s functionality and impact daily activities.1 May is recognized as National Arthritis Awareness Month to bring attention to the widespread impact that arthritis has on adults, children and families.
These Changes Can Make a Difference for Those Living with Arthritis
Two of the most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). For those living with OA or RA, these changes could help improve daily life with arthritis:
- Do simple exercises: Exercise a few times a week to keep your joints as functional as possible. Find an activity you enjoy doing, such as taking a walk or swimming in a pool.2 Be sure to check with your doctor about what exercises are right and safe for you.
- Improve your sleep: According to the patient organization, CreakyJoints, there are many lifestyle changes you can make that may help improve your sleep, even if you suffer from arthritis pain. You may want to try avoiding caffeine in the evening, reducing screen time before bed, eating lighter meals at night and keeping your bedroom cool, dark and quiet.3
- Choose foods that fight inflammation: The Arthritis Foundation says that, while there is no miracle diet for arthritis, there are foods that can help fight inflammation and improve joint symptoms. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts and beans but low in processed foods and saturated fat is not only great for overall health, but can also help manage disease activity.4
- Lose any amount of extra weight: According to The Osteoarthritis Action Alliance, extra weight greatly increases joint pain and damages the cartilage of the joints, especially in the hips and knees. Losing excess weight, even in small amounts, can help reduce joint pain, avoid joint surgery and become more active.5
Speak to your Physician about Medicines for Pain Management
In addition to lifestyle adjustments, a range of medicines are available to help relieve arthritis symptoms. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen, are frequently used to ease inflammation and pain caused by arthritis.6
“While it is important to have balanced pain management with arthritis, it is crucial to speak to your physician often and openly about your daily lifestyle. That way, your physician can help personalize your treatment which may include NSAIDs or other types of pain management techniques,” said Hasan Abed, MD, Anesthesiologist and Pain Management Specialist, Advanced Pain Management located in Timonium, Maryland.
If you take NSAIDs, it is important to talk to your healthcare professional because as many as one in four regular NSAID users are at risk to develop stomach ulcers – sores on the lining of the stomach caused by stomach acid.7 In addition to taking high doses of NSAIDs, other risk factors include taking NSAIDs with aspirin, or while taking corticosteroids or blood thinners, having had a stomach ulcer in the past and being older than 65 years of age. If you have more than two of these risk factors, you are considered at high risk for stomach ulcers.
Gastroprotection with NSAIDs can help lower the risk of stomach ulcers
Over-the-counter and prescription NSAIDs come in many different forms. They are available topically, as a lotion or gel and can be taken by mouth.6 Some NSAIDs include a gastroprotective medicine to help reduce the risk of getting a stomach ulcer.8
“Because every case of arthritis is different, it is important to talk to your physician about pain management and the potential risk of stomach ulcers if you take NSAIDs,” said Dr. Abed. “If appropriate, your doctor may suggest you take a medicine that can lower the risk of getting a stomach ulcer when taking an NSAID.”
For resources to help manage your OA or RA visit www.horizonconnectedhealth.com/patients/.
References: 1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Frequently Asked Questions – Arthritis. https://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/faqs.htm. Updated January 10, 2019. Accessed May 12, 2021. 2. Creaky Joints. Exercises for Arthritis. https://creakyjoints.org/education/treatments/exercises-for-arthritis/. Accessed May 12, 2021. 3. Creaky Joints. Chronic Pain and Sleep. https://creakyjoints.org/support/pain-management/sleep/. Accessed May 12, 2021. 4. The Arthritis Foundation. The Ultimate Arthritis Diet. https://www.arthritis.org/health-wellness/healthy-living/nutrition/anti-inflammatory/the-ultimate-arthritis-diet. Accessed May 12, 2021. 5. The Osteoarthritis Action Alliance. Weight Gain and Joint Pain. https://oaaction.unc.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/623/2018/08/OAAA_WeightGain_JointPain-AN-3.18.pdf. Accessed May 12, 2021. 6. The Arthritis Foundation. NSAIDs. https://www.arthritis.org/drug-guide/nsaids/nsaids. Accessed May 12, 2021. 7. Lanza FL, Chan FK, Quigley EM. Guidelines for prevention of NSAID-related ulcer complications. Am J Gastroenterol. 2009;104(3):728-738. 8. Crofford LJ. Use of NSAIDs in treating patients with arthritis. Arthritis Res Ther. 2013;15(S3).
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