Living with Arthritis

Written by Srinjoy Majumdar

Published 01/03/2024

Arthritis, a prevalent cause of joint pain and disability, affects millions worldwide. Various types of arthritis contribute to joint pain, stiffness, and swelling, significantly impacting individuals' daily lives and overall well-being.

Effectively managing arthritis pain is crucial for maintaining a high quality of life. Proper pain management strategies and lifestyle changes can help alleviate discomfort and prevent further joint damage.

Understanding Arthritis

Arthritis, a term encompassing over 100 joint-related conditions, affects a significant portion of the global population. As arthritis progresses, it can lead to joint pain, stiffness, and swelling, impacting the daily lives of those affected. To better manage arthritis, it is essential to understand its different types, symptoms, and risk factors.

Common types of arthritis include osteoarthritis, which is characterized by the gradual wear and tear of joint cartilage; rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disorder causing inflammation in the joint lining; psoriatic arthritis, which affects individuals with the skin condition psoriasis; and gout, a type of arthritis resulting from the buildup of uric acid crystals in joints. Additionally, lupus-related arthritis can develop as a complication of the autoimmune disease lupus.

Symptoms of arthritis generally include joint pain, stiffness, and swelling, often accompanied by fatigue. These symptoms can vary in severity and duration. Risk factors for developing arthritis encompass age, family history, carrying extra weight, and joint injuries. Understanding these factors can help individuals take preventative measures or seek early intervention for arthritis management.

Diagnosing Arthritis

Early diagnosis of arthritis is crucial for effective management and prevention of joint damage. A combination of physical exams, medical history review, blood tests, and imaging tests can help determine the presence and type of arthritis. Primary care providers play a vital role in arthritis diagnosis, as they can assess symptoms, recommend appropriate tests, and create a personalized treatment plan for each patient.

Physical exams can detect joint swelling, tenderness, or restricted motion, while a thorough medical history review can identify potential risk factors. Blood tests can reveal markers of inflammation, infection, or autoimmune conditions, and imaging tests, such as X-rays or MRIs, can reveal joint damage or narrowing. By working closely with their primary care providers, individuals can ensure accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment, significantly improving their quality of life and overall well-being.

Pain Management Strategies

Effective pain management strategies for arthritis sufferers require a balance between activity and rest. Engaging in appropriate exercises can help alleviate pain and improve joint function, while avoiding overexertion and allowing time for recovery.

Stretching and range-of-motion exercises are beneficial for maintaining flexibility and joint mobility. Gradual progressive strength training can help build muscle around the joints, providing support and protection. It is essential to avoid high-impact and repetitive motion activities that may exacerbate joint pain and cause further damage.

Over-the-counter medications, such as acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol), ibuprofen (e.g., Advil or Motrin®, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), can provide temporary relief from arthritis pain. Topical creams containing capsaicin may also offer some respite from discomfort. However, it is crucial to avoid over-treatment and under-treatment of pain, ensuring that medication usage is appropriate and aligned with the advice of a healthcare professional.

Lifestyle Changes

Adopting healthy lifestyle changes can have a significant impact on arthritis pain management and overall well-being. Weight management is essential, as carrying extra weight puts additional strain on joints, exacerbating pain and inflammation. Losing excess weight can help alleviate arthritis symptoms and improve joint function.

Smoking cessation is another crucial lifestyle change, as smoking can worsen arthritis pain and increase the risk of other health complications. Ensuring proper posture and joint protection can help prevent unnecessary stress on the joints and minimize discomfort.

Lastly, addressing emotional well-being and treating depression is vital for arthritis sufferers. As depression is more common in individuals with arthritis, it can exacerbate pain and hinder effective pain management. Seeking appropriate support and treatment for emotional well-being can significantly enhance the overall quality of life for arthritis sufferers.

Alternative Therapies

Besides traditional pain management strategies, arthritis sufferers may benefit from alternative and complementary therapies. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a psychological approach that helps modify physical, behavioral, and emotional triggers of pain and stress, making it a valuable tool for managing arthritis pain.

Relaxation therapy techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, and progressive muscle relaxation, can help reduce stress and alleviate pain. Acupuncture, an ancient Chinese practice, involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body to alleviate pain and promote healing.

Heat and cold therapy can also provide relief from arthritis pain. Heat therapy, such as warm baths or heating pads, can help relax muscles and improve circulation, while cold therapy, such as ice packs or cold compresses, can numb pain and reduce inflammation. Massage therapy can help improve blood circulation, reduce inflammation, and alleviate joint pain and stiffness.

These alternative and complementary therapies can be valuable additions to traditional pain management strategies, offering arthritis sufferers a comprehensive approach to managing their joint pain.

Shasta Health's Physical Therapy Services for Arthritis Pain

Shasta Health offers a fresh perspective on physical therapy with its at-home and virtual services, addressing arthritis pain and improving mobility. The benefits of at-home and virtual physical therapy include convenience, personalized care, and the ability to avoid clinic visits, saving time and energy for patients.

Shasta Health's certified physical therapists can help create a personalized treatment plans for you, ensuring effective and targeted care. They offer a mix of in-home and virtual appointments, providing flexibility and comfort in receiving therapy.

Shasta Health also works with insurance companies to verify out-of-network benefits and facilitate reimbursement, making the process more convenient for patients. The platform treats various conditions related to muscle and joint pain, including neck, shoulder, wrist, back, knee, ankle, and foot pain.


Effectively addressing and managing arthritis pain is essential for maintaining a high quality of life. Seeking professional help and exploring various pain management strategies can significantly improve the well-being of arthritis sufferers. Shasta Health offers at-home and virtual physical therapy services, providing personalized treatment plans designed to alleviate joint pain and improve mobility.