How to Live with Arthritis

Article from Orthogate

Arthritis pain is not something pleasant for anyone to live with. Although it is often thought as a side effect of aging, many younger people are affected by inflammatory arthritis. With that in mind, there is a large part of the workforce constantly suffering from arthritis pains. Odds are, you are either one of them, or you know someone who is. The first thing you should do if you suspect that you have arthritis is go see your primary care physician and follow their treatment plan. However, even with meds and treatments, you most likely will still feel pain. Luckily, there are plenty of home remedies that can help you live with them.

Diets and Home Treatments 

While there are several different kinds of arthritis, there are certain home treatments that can benefit each one. One of the major treatments that even the most home-treatment cynical doctors will advise is a change in diet. If you are over a certain weight, your weight may be causing you more pain by causing pressure on your joints. Your doctor may suggest to eat more low carb foods and avoid sugars and red meat. However, the best diet you can follow to lessen your arthritis pain is an anti-inflammatory diet. While it’s not strictly a “diet”, it does help you learn what foods to avoid and what foods you should add to your routine.

Sleep and Pain 

If you are suffering from arthritis pain, you might also be having trouble getting a good night’s rest. Even if you don’t have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, pain can interfere with your REM sleep, causing you to wake up still feeling tired. This article on “Creaky Joints” talks more about the research behind these concerns. Even if your pain doesn’t interfere with your sleep, studies show that your lack of sleep affects your pain levels.

Physical Activity and Arthritis 

Another important part of living with arthritis is staying active. While it may feel like the last thing you want to do, light exercise can help you to stay healthy, no matter what kind of arthritis you have. It is important that you only practice low contact exercises, especially if you have inflammatory arthritis. Exercises that are safe to practice without hurting your joints are swimming, yoga, and cycling. It’s also good to take walks on days that you aren’t up to a workout.

On the other hand, you must learn when to say no and listen to your body. In order to not worsen the progression in your joints, you don’t want to push yourself too far. A walk in the park might be healthy, but you might want to talk to your doctor before agreeing to an all-day hike up a mountain. A lot of people with arthritis pains often feel these pains in full force during and after especially active vacations, so looking into activities that allow for solid exercise without overexertion is crucial for keeping the pain at bay. Doing safe activities for your joints while on a family getaway,  for example, allows for a quality vacation without negative effects and overdoing it.

When you are active or you over-do it, you might find yourself suffering a lot of pain in your joints. When this happens, you can take over-the-counter pain medication or practice some home remedies that might ease the pain. Hot and cold compresses are great for making the swelling go down in auto-immune arthritis reactions, but they are also a good pain relief for osteoarthritis. An old fashioned warm bath could also be the perfect solution to getting some relief. When you push yourself too far, take it as easy as life allows and rest. Your joints will only feel worse if you keep pushing them.

Plan Ahead to Prevent Pain 

Finally, you can prevent arthritis pain by thinking ahead. If you’re going to have a long day, plan times that you can take a break or rest. If mobility aids take some pressure off of your lower joints, think about walking with one. Buy clothes that don’t have as many difficult buttons and zippers and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.

It’s not easy to live with the pain of arthritis, but with the right preparations and support system, you can be ready for anything your body throws at you.


The Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Center of Oregon is an award-winning, board-certified orthopedic group located in downtown Portland Oregon. We utilize both surgical and nonsurgical means to treat musculoskeletal trauma, spine diseases, sports injuries, degenerative diseases, infections, tumors and congenital disorders.

Our mission is to return our patients back to pain-free mobility and full strength as quickly and painlessly as possible using both surgical and non-surgical orthopedic procedures.

Our expert physicians provide leading-edge, comprehensive care in the diagnosis and treatment of orthopedic conditions, including total joint replacement and sports medicine. We apply the latest state-of-the-art techniques in order to return our patients to their active lifestyle.

If you’re looking for compassionate, expert orthopedic surgeons in Portland Oregon, contact OSM today.

Phone:
503-224-8399

Address
1515 NW 18th Ave, 3rd Floor
Portland, OR 97209

Hours
Monday–Friday
8:00am – 4:30pm

Why are my RA symptoms getting worse?

From WebMD, medically reviewed on October 8, 2020

Getting control of you moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis can be difficult, here are some common reasons why.

You’re Having a Flare

Red, warm, swollen joints are inflamed. A flare is when inflammation in your body spikes. Your symptoms can get worse. You might also have a mild fever, fatigue, and feel sick all over. To treat a flare, your doctor might adjust your medicine to lower the inflammation. To feel better, get more rest and apply hot or cold packs to sore, swollen joints.

You’re Under Pressure

Stress, anxiety, and even depression are common with RA. It’s more than just a bad mood. Depression can make it hard for you to manage your symptoms. Stress tells your body to release cortisol, an anti-inflammatory hormone. But ongoing stress triggers too much cortisol. This makes pain feel worse. Find ways to relax, like yoga, bubble baths, or exercise.

Your Sleep Cycle Is Off

RA pain and sleep trouble are a vicious cycle. If you’re in pain, you can’t sleep well. If you don’t get enough rest, your symptoms get worse. Good habits can help you get the downtime you need. Use guided imagery to distract you from the pain. Take pain meds before bedtime so you can nod off more easily. Switch off your phone and bedside clock. Their lights can disturb your slumber.

Your Meds No Longer Help

Even if what you’re taking has kept your RA under control for a while, things can change. If your body starts to resist current treatments, your symptoms may get worse. Talk to your doctor. You may be able to change to a new treatment. If you’re on a biologic, they might add other rheumatoid arthritis drugs to get your symptoms under control.

You Have Another Disease, Too

As if RA isn’t enough to handle, you can get related conditions that cause similar symptoms. People with RA are more likely to get fibromyalgia, too. It causes chronic pain, fatigue, and tender points that mimic RA. Your doctor can diagnose fibro to be sure it’s the cause of your problems and suggest treatment.

You’re Out of Remission

The goal of RA treatment is to make disease activity stop or slow down greatly so you have few or no symptoms. Doctors call this remission. But it doesn’t always last. RA might return and get worse. Over the years, your symptoms can come and go. See your doctor to adjust your medications.

You Don’t Exercise Enough

RA joint pain and stiffness can make you want to stay on the couch. But if you don’t move your joints, your symptoms will get worse. Exercise actually helps ease RA pain and fatigue. Try to get some activity every day. Walk, bike, or swim to rev up your heart. Do range-of-motion stretches to keep your joints limber. Work your muscles so they stay strong.

You Just Had a Baby

RA symptoms often ease up when you’re pregnant. But this can end soon after delivery. It’s hard to care for a baby when you have severe joint pain and fatigue, too. Your doctor can prescribe treatments that control your symptoms but are also safe for your baby if you plan to breastfeed.

You’re Carrying Extra Pounds

Added weight puts more stress on inflamed joints, which leads to more pain. Too much fat in your body can release hormones that worsen RA inflammation.  Your treatments may not work as well if you’re overweight. Exercise daily, and get help from a nutritionist if you struggle to stay at a healthy weight.

You Smoke

If you have RA and smoke, you should quit! Smokers with RA who quit often see symptoms improve. Smoking raises the odds that you’ll get RA in the first place. It can also affect the way your RA drugs work. They may not control your symptoms like they should. And it can zap your energy so you don’t exercise, which could ease your joint pain. Quit smoking or get help to kick the habit.

You’ve Been Too Active

Exercise is good for your RA, but you can overdo it. If you’ve been active all day, take time to relax. Rest can cool inflamed joints and help you bounce back from fatigue. Take breaks so you don’t get hurt. A physical therapist can teach you how to protect your joints, prevent painful muscle spasms, and exercise safely.

You’re Low on Vitamin D

People with RA often have low levels of vitamin D in their bodies. If you don’t have enough, your RA could become more active. That can lead to painful inflammation and even bone loss over time. Low vitamin D can worsen pain and fatigue. Your doctor can test your blood to measure your levels. More time in the sun (with sunscreen) and supplements might give you what you need.

You Have an Infection

RA and the treatments you take for it make you more likely to get an infection. Your immune system is overworked already, so it’s hard for it to fight off common bugs. Even seasonal flu can trigger RA symptoms. It also puts you at risk for septic arthritis, which causes severe pain in your knees, hips, or shoulders. Get the vaccines that your doctor suggests, such as a yearly flu shot.

You Stopped Taking Your Meds

Maybe they’re too expensive. Or perhaps you felt better so you thought it was OK to ditch your meds. But symptoms may flare up if you stop your medications. Talk to your doctor. You might be able to switch to a drug that doesn’t have as many side effects, or take a lower dose.

You Were Diagnosed Late

Your RA symptoms may be worse if you had the disease for years before you knew it. If it isn’t spotted and treated early, inflammation can lead to joint pain, damage, and deformity that won’t get better. Physical therapy may help you move better and ease your pain. Surgery can also replace your damaged joint with a new one.


The Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Center of Oregon is an award-winning, board-certified orthopedic group located in downtown Portland Oregon. We utilize both surgical and nonsurgical means to treat musculoskeletal trauma, spine diseases, sports injuries, degenerative diseases, infections, tumors and congenital disorders.

Our mission is to return our patients back to pain-free mobility and full strength as quickly and painlessly as possible using both surgical and non-surgical orthopedic procedures.

Our expert physicians provide leading-edge, comprehensive care in the diagnosis and treatment of orthopedic conditions, including total joint replacement and sports medicine. We apply the latest state-of-the-art techniques in order to return our patients to their active lifestyle.

If you’re looking for compassionate, expert orthopedic surgeons in Portland Oregon, contact OSM today.

Phone:
503-224-8399

Address
1515 NW 18th Ave, 3rd Floor
Portland, OR 97209

Hours
Monday–Friday
8:00am – 4:30pm

12 Tips for Walking When You Have Sensitive Knees

From VeryWellFit

Sensitive knees can be a challenge for walking, but it is a recommended way to maintain your function and reduce your symptoms. If you have knee pain due to osteoarthritis or other causes, you don’t have to let that keep you from starting a walking program.

A regular program of walking can reduce stiffness and inflammation and it won’t make most chronic knee conditions worse. Walking is the preferred exercise by people with arthritis, and can help you improve your arthritis symptoms, walking speed, and quality of life, according to the CDC.

Walking is part of a healthy lifestyle to keep your heart and bones strong and your joints functioning. Here are tips for walking when you have sensitive knees.

Read more

Arthritis of the Hand

Article Featured on Bidneeham.org

Arthritis, the medical term for joint inflammation, is an extremely common problem for older adults. Arthritis in the hands can make it difficult to perform everyday tasks. While the condition can be managed with proper medical care, first you must recognize its common warning signs.
Read more

5 Ways to Help Prevent Arthritis

Article Featured on Michigan Hand & Wrist

While it may not be possible to completely get rid of your risk of developing arthritis, there are some things you can do to reduce your risk and delay the onset. Arthritis happens when cartilage wears away, causing your bones to rub against and damage each other, which is why you feel pain. There are some tips you can follow that may help arthritis from developing, which include:

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A Patient’s Guide to Rheumatoid Arthritis

Article Featured on US News

The human body is an incredibly complex machine. Most of the time, all the parts work correctly, with various gears and components clicking in harmony. But occasionally, something gets out of whack. When this happens, the guardian of the machine – the immune system – can get turned around and begin attacking the body it usually protects. This is what happens in an autoimmune disease like rheumatoid arthritis, an inflammatory disease that affects the joints.

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Osteoarthritis of the Hip

Article Featured on AAOS

Sometimes called “wear-and-tear” arthritis, osteoarthritis is a common condition that many people develop during middle age or older. In 2011, more than 28 million people in the United States were estimated to have osteoarthritis. It can occur in any joint in the body, but most often develops in weight-bearing joints, such as the hip. Read more

Arthritis of the Wrist

Having painful arthritis in your wrist can make it hard to do many everyday activities. Although there is no cure for arthritis, there are several treatment options available to help relieve your painful symptoms and stay active.

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How To Treat MP Joint Arthritis

Description

Hand bones are called metacarpals. The finger bones are called phalanges. The metacarpophalangeal joint (MP joint), or knuckle, is where the finger bones meet the hand bones. At the MP joints, the fingers can move in multiple directions. They can bend, straighten, spread apart and move together. MP joints are important for both pinching and gripping.

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An Overview of Rheumatoid Arthritis

What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis

In its most literal sense, arthritis means “inflamed joint.” Arthritis describes any condition where cartilage in the joint breaks down. Normal joints consist of two smooth, cartilage-covered bone surfaces that fit together as a matched set and glide against one other. Arthritis can result when these smooth surfaces become irregular as the cartilage breaks down and don’t fit well together anymore, essentially “wearing out.” Arthritis can affect any joint in the body, and it can be debilitating when it affects the hands and fingers.

Rheumatoid arthritis is one of the most common forms of arthritis in the hand, in addition to osteoarthritis and post-traumatic arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis affects the cells that line and normally lubricate the joints (synovial tissue). This is a systemic condition (can affect the whole body), which means that it may affect multiple joints, usually on both sides of the body.

The joint lining (synovium) becomes inflamed and swollen and erodes the cartilage and bone. The swollen tissue may also stretch the surrounding ligaments, which are the connective tissues holding the bones together, resulting in deformity and instability. The inflammation may also spread to the tendons, which are the rope-like structures linking muscles to bones. This can result in fraying and eventual breaking of the tendons.

Rheumatoid arthritis of the hand is most common in the wrist and the finger knuckles (the MP and PIP joints (see Figure 1)).

Signs & Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Stiffness, swelling and pain are symptoms common to all forms of arthritis in the hand. In rheumatoid arthritis, some joints may be more swollen than others. There is often a sausage-shaped swelling of the finger. Other symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis of the hand include:

  • A soft lump over the back of the hand that moves when straightening the fingers
  • A creaking sound during movement
  • Fingers shifting away from the direction of the thumb (see Figure 2)
  • Swelling and inflammation of the tendons that bend the fingers, resulting in clicking or triggering of the finger as it bends, sometimes causing numbness and tingling in the fingers (carpal tunnel syndrome)
  • Inability to straighten or bend certain fingers or the thumb
  • A bent middle finger (Boutonnière Deformity (see Figure 3))
  • An over-extended middle joint and bent fingertip (Swan-Neck Deformity (see Figure 3))

Diagnosis

Your doctor will examine you to determine whether you have similar symptoms in other joints and to assess the impact of the arthritis on your life and activities. The appearance of the hands and fingers helps to diagnose the type of arthritis. X-rays will show certain characteristics of rheumatoid arthritis such as narrowing of the joint space or erosions of the bone. If your doctor suspects rheumatoid arthritis, he or she may request blood or other lab tests to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment

Rheumatoid arthritis is primarily treated with medication. Typically, medications for this condition are prescribed by your primary care provider or a rheumatologist.  Steroid injections are sometimes helpful, particularly when the condition is more active. Surgery may be needed to relieve pain or improve function during the course of the disease, but it is not needed in all cases of rheumatoid arthritis.

Article Featured on ASSH


Orthopedic Sports Medicine Center of Oregon is located in Downtown Portland Oregon. Dr. Dominic Patillo, one of our Board-Certified Orthopedic Surgeons, specializes in hand surgery. His practice focuses on the treatment of both simple and complex hand and upper extremity conditions as well as general orthopaedic trauma. He is experienced with modern microsurgical techniques including nerve and vessel reconstruction.

Common problems treated include:

  • carpal tunnel syndrome
  • tennis elbow
  • wrist pain
  • sports injuries of the hand and wrist
  • fractures of the hand, wrist, and forearm
  • trigger finger

Other problems treated can include arthritis, nerve and tendon injuries, and congenital limb differences (birth defects).

If you have pain in your fingers, hand, wrist or arm, or if you have other upper-extremity related concerns, please consult our hand specialist Dr. Dominic Patillo for a consultation.