Modern Pain Management – Vol 2
Why Does Arthritis Cause Chronic Pain?
There are more than one hundred different types of arthritis that affect more than 54 million Americans every year.
That’s a conservative estimate, too.
Many people with chronic pain don’t realize it is caused by the early stages of arthritis. They’ll often attribute it to a suspected injury or put it down to ‘getting older’. A clicking knee here, a stiff lower back there: it’s easy to write off the early warning signs of arthritic conditions.
Knowing the signs of the different types of arthritis pain will help you find a treatment to minimize ongoing chronic pain.
How Different Types of Arthritis Cause Chronic Pain
There are several different groups of arthritis and each has its own causes and symptoms of pain.
Most commonly identified as rheumatoid arthritis, but including other types such as lupus, inflammatory arthritis is an autoimmune form of the disease. That means your body thinks its own cells are foreign bodies and the immune system starts to attack and break them down.
It has strong genetic links and women are more commonly diagnosed with inflammatory arthritis than men. It affects people of all ages, including children in the form of Juvenile Inflammatory Arthritis (JIA).
The main symptoms of inflammatory arthritis include what’s known as ‘flare ups’ of the body, which means the pain and symptoms can fluctuate from one day to the next.
The pain and fatigue experienced with inflammatory arthritis tend to include symptoms such as extreme stiffness in the early morning as well as swollen joints. The smaller joints, such as knuckles, are often the first to be affected. The disease is often symmetrical: if you have swollen joints on one hand or foot, it usually is the same on the other hand or foot, too.
Osteoarthritis pain is caused by bones rubbing together as cartilage wears away over time. Unlike inflammatory arthritis, where pain varies, pain caused by osteoarthritis tends to be continuous and is made worse with overuse of the joint.
Osteoarthritis affects people of any age, but it is most commonly found in older people or serious athletes who have placed a lot of stress on their joints. Symptoms include ongoing pain in joints, difficulty bending at the knee, or intense joint pain after exercise (that isn’t caused by an injury). Pain may be in one joint or several and is not usually symmetrical like inflammatory arthritis.
Nerve and Muscle Pain
Some chronic pain conditions that fall under the term arthritis are caused by nerve and muscle pain instead of the joints or bones. These conditions are harder to treat as nerve pain, also called neuropathy, doesn’t respond to typical anti-inflammatory painkillers.
Unlike osteoarthritis and inflammatory arthritis, nerve and muscle pain conditions are not usually degenerative. People with these conditions will experience ‘flare ups’ – a worsening of symptoms and pain from time to time – but the disease or syndrome doesn’t cause the bones or cartilage to degrade over time.
In a bracket all its own, gout symptoms are easily mistaken for inflammatory arthritis. This is because joints swell up seemingly overnight and the pain is excruciating.
What actually happens is that uric crystals build up in the joints and this causes the pain. Attacks occur out of the blue and can be related to other conditions such as metabolic syndrome.
The most commonly affected joint is the big toe. Untreated gout tends to extend to other joints and may cause further problems such as kidney stones.
How to Manage Arthritic Pain Naturally
There are many treatment options available for people with arthritis. Alongside physician-led treatments, there are plenty of self-care remedies to help minimize chronic pain symptoms.
Biowave offers chronic pain patients a natural form of pain relief. Talk to us to learn more about how electrical stimulation could help reduce your chronic arthritic pain symptoms.