Weekly Wellness: Arthritis Options

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COLUMBIA- Did you know that more than 50 million adults and 300,000 children have some form of arthritis? It's true. Most of us have heard of arthritis or know someone who has it (including ourselves) but many of us don't really understand it.

Did you know that arthritis isn't a singular disease? The term is used to refer to joint pain or joint diseases, however, there are over 100 different types of arthritis (and related conditions). Common arthritis joint symptoms include swelling, pain, stiffness and decreased range of motion. Symptoms may come and go. They can be mild, moderate or severe. They may stay about the same for years, but may progress or get worse over time.

Did you know that arthritis is the leading cause of disability in America? Severe arthritis can result in chronic pain, inability to do daily activities and make it difficult to walk or climb stairs. The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis, which affects an estimated 31 million Americans.

When it comes to treating arthritis, many doctors prescribe nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or naproxen. Some of us can’t take these regularly, for various reasons. Or some of us simply don’t want to have to take an oral medication often for relief. Enter: the topical NSAID.

A topical NSAID is a form of NSAID that is in a cream form that is applied directly to the skin. The drug penetrates the skin, enters the joint and reduces pain signals. The level of drug entering the bloodstream is much lower which can, in turn, minimize the risk of side effects.

So, who should use topical NSAIDs? They are best for people with only a few painful joints. People with arthritis in multiple joints seem to be better with oral NSAIDs (as applying the topical to multiple locations could cause the user to exceed the recommended dose). Also, anyone with heart or kidney disease, allergic reactions to NSAIDs or open heart surgery should not use topical NSAIDs.

Topical NSAIDs are particularly good for hand, knee or elbow arthritis (since these joints are relatively close to the skin’s surface).

If you have arthritis and are interested in trying a topical NSAID, talk to your doctor.

(Source: arthritis.org)

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