Peter Stannett, who is Information Officer for Arthritis Care, discusses what to consider if you're experiencing pain in your joints.

 

Early warning signs?

 
  • Pain and joint stiffness, particularly when you move1, or late in the day
     
  • A joint feeling stiff after resting, but disappearing as you start moving
     
  • A joint not moving as freely as it once did, perhaps creaking and crunching
     
  • Swollen joints
     
  • Muscles around the joint looking less substantial than they did in the past

 

How can osteoarthritis be treated?

 
  • Painkillers and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). They do not affect the condition itself, but can help to reduce pain.
     
  • Anti-inflammatory gels and creams, which can be applied to the skin over the joint three times a day. They are more helpful in reducing pain when the joint is near the surface, such as in the fingers, than a deep joint, such as the hip.
     
  • Steroid injections, which can be used on a painful joint.
     
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), which may help to relieve pain; TENS is an electronic device that sends electrical impulses to nerves via pads on the skin.
     
  • Surgery, which may be recommended if the pain is severe or mobility is restricted2.

 

Should I see a doctor?

 

See your GP if you have stiffness or joint pain that does not go away3.

 

Will lifestyle changes help?

 
  1. Avoid physical activity that puts undue strain on your joints, such as weight training or running. A physiotherapist can advise on an exercise programme for osteoarthritis4
     
  2. Maintain good posture and avoid staying in the same position for too long5,6.
     
  3. Try to maintain a healthy weight. Extra weight can put additional strain on load-bearing joints and increase the chances of developing osteoarthritis7.

 

References


Introduction. Smith, S. (2012) OAnation2012 The most comprehensive UK report of people with osteoarthritis Arthritis Care

1 http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/osteoarthritis/symptoms-causes/dxc-20198250

2 Arthritis Research UK (2012) Osteoarthritis Arthritis Research UK

3 nhs.uk/Conditions/Osteoarthritis/Pages/Symptoms.aspx

4 Arthritis Research UK (2012) Osteoarthritis Arthritis Research UK

5 http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Osteoarthritis/Pages/treatment.aspx

6 nhs.uk/Conditions/Osteoarthritis/Pages/Introduction.aspx#treatment

7 http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Osteoarthritis/Pages/treatment.aspx