Joint Pain Forum – News you can use!
Weight loss exercise can also be effective in coping with arthritis pain
June 8, 2007
As a primary care provider, it seems that I hear every one of my
patients complaining to me about a swollen, sore, or stiff joint at
some point of the interview. Many of us realize these things happen as
a result of injury, and that there are factors involving inflammation
and pain. It is when the swelling and pain linger that most of us start
to get worried about arthritis.
Arthritis literally means swelling of a joint, and with most
traumatic injuries, one does expect some degree of swelling, but when
we get swelling and pain without an injury, the rarer causes of
arthritis come into consideration.
Our joints are truly structures of divine engineering. Our bones
contact each other with specialized tissue called cartilage that allows
them to slide against each other with one-tenth the friction produced
by rubbing two smooth pieces of ice against each other. When these
remarkable surfaces are damaged, the body attempts to repair them as
best it can. However, the surface never is the same after repair, and
the resulting increased friction and decreased shock absorption of the
delicate cartilage can snowball into the painful and common condition
known as osteoarthritis.
It has been shown that 80 percent of all people over age 55 have some
signs of osteoarthritis. A definite relationship has been observed
between weight and osteoarthritis. Considering the obesity epidemic in
this country, we can expect osteoarthritis to become more common and
severe in the future.
Osteoarthritis is the medical term used to describe a progressive
process of injury, breakdown, and attempted repair of our joints.
During this process, the cartilage gradually is replaced with scar
tissue that lacks the resilience of the original cartilage. It rapidly
is worn down ultimately to exposed bone grinding against bone. The
disease process cannot be stopped once it has begun. Billions are spent
each year to pay for medical intervention of this cureless disorder.
Medical science knows a great deal about the steps involved with the
disease progression, and we have many ways to deal with the symptoms,
mostly focusing on pain relief, but we have had little success in
slowing the deterioration of the precious cartilage.
For decades, arthritis specialists have recommended that acetominophen
---- the active ingredient in Tylenol ---- be used. This medication
does handle blocking arthritis pain and is quite safe, but it lacks any
strong anti-inflammatory effect. For many years, it has been debated
whether a group of medications known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory
drugs is perhaps better for arthritis.
NSAIDs are a group of medications that include
ibuprofen and naproxen. Theoretically, they should treat pain and also
slow down the whole inflammatory breakdown; however, no studies have
been able to prove that taking NSAIDs is any more effective than
acetominophen to slow disease progression.
Many studies suggest that NSAIDs are better for pain
control, but these drugs are not without risk. NSAIDs are very hard on
the stomach and kidneys. It is for this reason that acetominophen
offers a safer option. There is always concern of liver damage with
Tylenol among my patients, but one would have to take close to 10 grams
(20 Tylenols) within 24 hours to cause any significant damage to a
Currently the best way to treat osteoarthritis symptoms
is to use NSAIDs and/or acetominophen to control the pain. But to slow
its progression, your best bet is to decrease stress on inflamed joints
by staying slim, using a cane for support and strengthening the
surrounding muscles with exercise and a healthy diet.
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