Approximately 40 million Americans suffer from arthritis, including more than 250,000 children. While there isn’t a cure for most types of arthritis, there are things you can do to mitigate the pain associated with it. The most obvious option is generally over-the-counter and prescription pain medication but there are possible risks associated with these.
Gels, creams, and patches often include sodium channel blockers that work by numbing nerve endings close to the skin. Popular sodium blocker topical medications include lidocaine and prilocaine. Topical NSAIDs are also becoming more popular because they reach the join fluid and decrease inflammatory proteins.
Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS)
This treatment utilizes a portable machine to send electrical currents to painful spots via wires attached to electrodes on the skin. When the electrical current stimulates the nervous system, it blocks the pain.
Steroids such as cortisone, hydrocortisone, and prednisone all work to reduce inflammation. This type of treatment can only safely be administered two to three times a year.
A heating pad, warm compress, warm bath, ice pack or cold compress are all great ways to relive arthritis pain. Heat aids in relief by increasing the blood flow and relaxing the muscles, while cold therapy reduces swelling and inflammation by constricting blood vessels.
Trigger Point Injection or Nerve Block
These options stop the pain signals in your nerves and help to calm inflammatory tissue. For these treatments a doctor injects a local anesthetic into either the muscle (trigger point) or the nerve (nerve block). Nerve blocks may also include a steroid in addition to the anesthetic.
Other treatments include acupuncture, meditation, and deep brain stimulation. Any type of medical treatment presents its own array of possible side effects so it’s important to talk to your doctor before beginning any type of treatment.