Rheumatoid arthritis (RA or chronic inflammatory polyarthritis) is one of the main types of arthritis that mostly affects the joints of the limbs i.e. hands and feet, although any joint in the body may be affected e.g. joints of knees, wrists, hips and shoulders. One of the most predominant symptoms of RA is pain which is also known as rheumatoid arthritis pain or arthralgia.
Rheumatoid arthritis pain
General speaking, the clinical manifestations of RA (signs and symptoms) are intermittent (occur at regular intervals) with flare-ups (temporary attacks). In more severe cases, such flare-ups may last for several years or a lifetime.
Some of the common symptoms of these flare ups include:
- Joint Stiffness / rigidity (it commonly occurs in the morning)
- Tiredness, fever, weight loss and depression
The pain found in rheumatoid arthritis is typical and is often associated with the rigidity, stiffness and lack of flexibility in joints.
Time: It is most severe during the night, making sleeping difficult or uncomfortable, and also interfering with the quality of sleep.
Site: While any joints can be affected, the most frequently affected joints are of elbow, knee, and hips. However, all other joints especially those of wrists, hands, fingers and feet can also be affected.
Character: It is usually dull and aching in character.
Frequency: This pain occurs at both regular and irregular intervals and is not constant or uniform in most of the cases. In others, its intensity and frequency tends to change with the progression of disease.
Radiation: Rheumatoid arthritis pain also has a tendency to radiate to other bones and joints, although, it is not always the case.
Ways for relieving rheumatoid arthritis pain
First and the foremost, it must be remembered that rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic, debilitating problem that needs to be managed aggressively and yet for long term. Multiple treatment modalities, therefore, are required including the lifestyle changes:
Lifestyle modifications: It is important to take sufficient sleep to reduce the overall feeling of fatigue and tiredness, if, because of the pain, patient is unable to sleep properly at night, all efforts should be made to have some sleep during the day time. Recommended exercise, such as walking often seems to help with the overall symptoms. Weight loss is also very crucial as being overweight or obese exerts unnecessary stress and strain on the joints which eventually leads to flare ups. Diet, therefore, should also be strictly controlled.
Medications: Non-Steroidal-Anti-Inflammatory drugs are commonly prescribed to counter the pain and related symptoms. However, it should be remembered that, none of such medications is free from side effects. Accordingly, caution should be exercised.
Alternative treatment: Physical therapy, Yoga, hydrotherapy and natural herbal supplements, if chosen wisely, can help a great deal especially with the pain relief. One of the best advantages of using some safe and effective herbal anti-arthritis supplement is that it is economical and cost effective as compared to the medical treatment and, in addition, can be used for long term without the obvious risk of developing adverse events or side effects.