The word arthritis is derived from the Greek words arthro-, meaning “joint,” and -itis, meaning “inflammation. It literally means inflammation of a joint. There are more than 100 types of arthritis but the most common of them all are Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis involves degeneration of the articular cartilage which protects the bone ends within a joint. The joint articular cartilage helps to reduce the friction between the two ends of a joint. With increasing age, articular cartilage degeneration happens, and tendons along with ligaments have to work harder causing friction and eventually swelling and inflammation. On the other hand, Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system identifies the joints as foreign substances and mistakenly attacks them. This creates the inflammation in the tissues surrounding the joint (Synovium) which results in pain and swelling in and around the joints.
Also, read about: Rheumatoid Arthritis: Treatment & Precautions
How Winters Elevate the Arthritis Pain?
When winter sets in, the cold temperature makes the muscles more prone to spasms due to which pain and stiffness in the joints are increased. Also, there is reduced blood circulation to the extremities like fingers and toes, which exaggerate the arthritic pain. Some studies find a strong relationship between short, cold, damp days and arthritis flare-ups. Research from Tufts University suggests changes in barometric pressure worsen knee pain in people with arthritis, while colder temps can cause painful changes in joint fluid thickness.
Below are some points mentioned that cause joint pain to increasing in winters:
- The receptors of pain around the joints tend to be extra sensitive in winters.
- There is drop-in atmospheric pressure in winters causing tissues to swell, building tension between joints and causing pain.
- The muscles become prone to spasm due to which pain and stiffness in the joints are increased.
- There is reduced blood circulation to the extremities like fingers and toes, which exaggerate the arthritic pain.
- Due to less sunlight during winters there is a lower vitamin D level which leads to weak bones and joints.
Related read: Weather and Joint Pain: What’s the Link?
Does Popping Pill Only Help in Reducing Arthritic Pain?
Management of arthritis is a multidimensional approach and is based on the severity of signs and symptoms. Treatment is focused to provide pain relief, increase joint mobility and strength, and limit the further progression of the disease. Treatment options include medication, physical therapy, and surgery. Your treatment plan may involve more than one of these options.
Risks and Side Effects of Arthritic Medicines
There are numerous medicines that are being prescribed in arthritis and most of them are having risks and side effects associated. It is not possible to list every side effect of medicines used in arthritis because every drug reacts differently and people also react differently to them. Do not do self-medication.
Before taking any medications, it is best to consult your doctor and have only the medicines prescribed by your doctor. The doctor (orthopaedics/ General physician) knows whether or not the medication is needed and if required- the ways to minimize medication side effects, such as to adjust the dosage or timing of medication, having it with food or having another medication to counteract the side effect.
How Physical Therapy Treatment is an Alternative Than Taking Pills in Arthritis?
For those who take pain medication on a consistent basis to deal with chronic joint pain, physical therapy is a treatment alternative. We teach the skills necessary to eliminate the pain and its triggers altogether, rather than providing a mask for the pain (Pain medication). With physical therapy, pain and stiffness are reduced and joint mobility is enhanced. This helps the patient to participate more in functional activities and improve his quality of life. Also, the need for medications is reduced to a lot extent and hence their side effects as well.
When Should You Visit a Physical Therapist?
If you find your activities of daily living are getting limited you may need to visit a physical therapist. Functional limitations can include anything from having difficulty in activities like getting in and out of chairs to climbing stairs, going for a walk in the neighbourhood, playing a sport or performing some recreational activities.
At Aktivhealth, we examine, diagnose the stage of arthritis and treat it to prevent further complications that actually affect the body’s ability to move and function in day to day life. With proper assessment of every patient, we plan a treatment protocol of exercises so as to improve flexibility, strength, coordination, and balance to achieve optimal physical function. Along with this, we train the individual for the proper posture and body mechanics for common daily activities to relieve pain and improve function. Also, we focus on the body’s ability to participate in movements and then train it to overcome functional limitations.
Also, read about: Your Ultimate Workout For Knee Osteoarthritis – Walking
Disclaimer: The statements, opinions, and data contained in these publications are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of Credihealth and the editor(s).
This article is written by Dr Rameez Haji, M.P.T (ortho) at AktivHealth (Delhi & NCR).
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