Arthritis is a name for a group of conditions affecting the joints. One of the most common types of arthritis is osteoarthritis. When a joint is affected by osteoarthritis, the cartilage that protects the ends of the bones deteriorates and wears away. As the damage progresses, the joint loses its smooth movement and may become larger and inflamed. Osteoarthritis may affect people in different ways, however the most common symptoms include: pain, stiffness or reduced movement of a joint, swelling, and a sense of warmth and redness may appear around the affected joint.
Osteoarthritis can appear at any age, but tends to occur more commonly in women and in people aged over 40. The cause of this type of arthritis is unclear; however risk factors for its development have been identified. These include: being overweight, having a family history of osteoarthritis, having a previous injury or overuse of a particular joint.
It is important to speak to your Advantage Pharmacist or Doctor if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms without knowing a cause or reason:
- pain and stiffness in your joints
- stiffness in your joints which results in limited movement
- continual pain and stiffness in your joints which persists for longer than a few days
- rubbing, grating or cracking sound when you move your joint
- bony lumps around your joint
- swelling or inflammation around your joint.
Osteoarthritis cannot be cured; however it can be well managed. Treatment plans aim to: reduce pain, maintain joint and muscle function and manage the tasks of daily living to give you a better quality of life. Heat Therapy Simple treatments with heat or cold may provide soothing and safe relief for osteoarthritic joint pain. Firstly, heat relaxes your muscles and stimulates blood circulation to relieve some of your pain and stiffness. You could try a warm bath or use a hot water bottle or heat pack over the affected area for 15 minutes at a time. For some people, adding essential oils to your warm bath may provide additional relief. For a long lasting heat application, you may like to try a specific cream, gel or oil, available from your local Advantage Pharmacy. Massaging the affected area whilst applying these products may provide additional benefit and help relieve some of the swelling. Products such as Deep Heat Arthritis or Goanna Heat Cream effectively combine natural and pharmaceutical ingredients to deliver a soothing and penetrating heat cream.
When you are experiencing a ‘flare-up’, a cold application may be more suitable. Cold applications act by numbing the painful joint area and help to reduce swelling. You could try applying an ice pack to the affected area for 15 minutes or alternatively use an ice spray, such as Mentholatum Ice Spray. After using a cold application, an oil-based product, such as Elmore Oil, can be easily applied to the affected area and may provide you with quick and effective relief, without heat. Elmore Oil contains four natural ingredients, blended in a unique process to enhance their potency, and is directed to be used twice a day for the relief of arthritic pain. Hot or cold treatments may be repeated several times throughout the day. It is best to consult with your Doctor or Advantage Pharmacist to determine whether heat or cold is best for you.
Pain Relieving Medication
Simple pain relieving medicines and anti-inflammatory medicines can be useful in relieving osteoarthritic pain and are available from your local Advantage Pharmacy. Paracetamol is available in a long acting formulation (e.g. Panadol Osteo), which can be taken regularly to provide effective pain relief without causing serious side-effects. At times where paracetamol is not producing adequate relief, an anti-inflammatory medication such as diclofenac (e.g. Voltaren Rapid 25mg Tablets) can be taken after food to help reduce swelling and provide relief. A local anti-inflammatory product, such as Voltaren Osteo Gel, may be applied directly onto the affected area and is a suitable option for people that may experience an upset stomach with certain oral medications.