There are two main types of arthritis:
OA is a common joint condition often called “wear and tear” arthritis.
OA problems may fluctuate over time and include symptoms of pain, mobility impairment, functional restriction and this can impact quality of life. The good news is that most of the effects of OA can be managed with exercise and a healthy lifestyle (see below).
Inflammatory Arthritis (IA)
IA is a long-term condition with acute “flare ups” that can at times cause a prolonged course of illness, functional impairment and disability. The most common types of IA are rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis and juvenile idiopathic arthritis. There are also a number of the effects of IA that can be managed with exercise and a healthy lifestyle. However, it is VERY important that you have a GP or Rheumatologist providing the medical management for your IA – then you can use other members of your health team to assist you to live life to the utmost with your condition.
Is all pain from my arthritis?
Pain has a protective function, keeping us out of harm’s way. This is important when standing on a nail or touching a hot surface. This system of detecting potential harm is very adaptable and efficient. However, for some people with persistent pain from arthritis, repeated experience of a pain can result in the system becoming too efficient. This efficiency is called sensitisation, which means you can experience pain when the nail is actually a flat stone or a lukewarm surface.
Persistent pain can affect all aspects of your life.
Some of your pain might be directly linked to a muscle or joint problem (eg. inflamed joints with inflammatory arthritis), but it can also persist when there is no evidence of ongoing injury or disease. A wide range of factors can sensitise your system and influence your pain:
- Lifestyle: activity levels, obesity, alcohol and smoking
- Physical factors: posture, how you move, unhelpful muscle guarding, and reduced strength or fitness
- Thoughts, feelings, mood and stress
- Relationships and support networks
- Employment and financial issues
These factors are not causing your pain, but they can increase or decrease your pain experience – like a volume control amplifying pain. The good news is that by altering some of these factors you can gain better control over your pain.
To successfully manage pain, you need to become an active participant in your healthcare – you may spend a few hours per month with health professionals, but you live with your condition 24/7.
What you do each day has a significant effect on your health and quality of life. Key steps to follow are:
- UNDERSTAND YOUR PAIN
- MAKE A PLAN
- GET ACTIVE AGAIN
- PROGRESSIVELY IMPLEMENT YOUR PLAN
If this sounds like you, contact Pain Options for an appointment to get started on getting back into life!