There are many types of arthritis. The three most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout. The information here will be about osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis causes pain, stiffness, and swelling which are common in the joints of fingers, hips, and knees. It occurs usually after the age of forty five.
Osteoarthritis is categorized into two main types; inflammatory and non inflammatory. The symptoms of non inflammatory osteoarthritis are usually aches and pains in the above mentioned joints. In general, there is no swelling with non inflammatory arthritis, but there can be tenderness. Patients with inflammatory osteoarthritis, usually in many cases, have swelling at the joints. Tenderness is also present.
Once a person experiences pain in the joints, although exercise is good, it is important not to jar the joints. Exercises, such as jumping, or other exercises that cause pressure on the joints, should be avoided. Daily exercises are good to help maintain strength and flexibility in the muscles and the joints. Low-impact activities, such as swimming, water aerobics, biking, and walking are excellent activities for osteoarthritis. These types of exercises are good because it strengthens the muscles around the joints. Stretching is also good.
Just as it is important to exercise, resting the joints is also important. This means to give them a “recess” from activity by taking short breaks during the day.
Apply moist heat to the effected joint if it is not swollen. This type of heat should be applied for 20 to 30 minutes, two to three times a day. Do not apply heat to a joint that is swollen or inflamed. Stiffness in the knee, after arising from sleep in the morning is common, since there is no activity during this time. A warm shower or bath can help pain and stiffness that usually occurs at this time.
If the joint is inflamed or swollen, apply cold packs for 10 to 15 minutes, once an hour. The cold packs will help relieve pain and inflammation.
A safe pain reliever for osteoarthritis can be aspirin or ibuprofen. It is important to know, however, that these two drugs can cause an upset stomach. It is also important to be aware of the fact that it is important not to use certain anti-inflammatory medications together such as aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, etc. Since there can be side effects from pain relievers, it is important to get medical advice.
Source: Kaiser Permanente Healthwise Handbook