“Arthritis” means inflammation of a joint. It can cause pain or stiffness. There are at least 100 kinds of arthritis, but the most common forms are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is wear and tear, so it tends to affect whatever joints get the most use. Rheumatoid arthritis, which is an autoimmune response, tends to affect wrists and hands.
Arthritis is a symptom rather than a particular disease, so it doesn’t make sense to talk about a cure. You may be able to alleviate it by curing the underlying condition. Lyme disease, for example, can cause arthritis, and curing the lyme disease (generally with antibiotics) will alleviate the symptoms. For the most part, however, medical treatment of arthritis usually has a more modest goal: reducing pain and increasing the quality of your life.
One way to increase the quality of your life is to keep moving. The Mayo Clinic points out, “Exercise is crucial for people with arthritis. It increases strength and flexibility, reduces joint pain, and helps combat fatigue. Of course, when stiff and painful joints are already bogging you down, the thought of walking around the block or swimming a few laps might seem overwhelming.”
If you can reduce pain and increase your range of motion sufficiently to permit healthy activity, you can take your life back from arthritis. The key is to alleviate your pain sufficiently to allow you to exercise. Then exercise strengthens the muscles around the joints and improves bone strength, which allows muscles and bones to take some of the pressure off your joints. This will delay the advance of arthritis and allow you to lead a more normal life.
Managing Arthritis Pain
There are, of course, medications that can help to manage pain — so many that you can hardly avoid seeing their television commercials. The most popular medication for arthritis is a class known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). But if you want to manage your arthritis without substantially changing your body chemistry, there are other techniques. The Arthritis Foundation suggests acupuncture, balneotherapy (soaking in warm mineral springs), transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), knee braces and sleeves, or canes and crutches.
In addition, a 2017 study of induced knee arthritis in rats compared photobiomodulation (PBM) with both NSAIDs and exercise and found PBM to be the most efficacious treatment of the three. I am not surprised. We have clients who report they manage chronic pain effectively with a few sessions of PBM each week.
The Pain Relief-Exercise Cycle
Of course, if you’re reading this, you’re not a rat. And if you have arthritis, you probably didn’t get it by having a researcher inject you with proteolytic enzyme. Nevertheless, there is good evidence that regular PBM helps with chronic pain. And even a little bit of pain relief may be enough to get you moving again. And exercise most definitely will help with arthritis.
We can’t cure your arthritis. It’s likely no one can. But we may be able to help your pain enough for you to exercise, and that is probably the best way to manage the condition. Book a PBM visit at Peak Recovery and Health Center today. Come in and spend 10-12 minutes in the PBM bed, then go for a walk, or maybe even a run.