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Friday, October 14, 2011

Joint Pain: Why Do I Hurt?

Joint pain is related to a number of conditions including arthritis, fibromyalgia, lupus and gout. These conditions are called Rheumatic Diseases (RD) because they involve pain and inflammation of the joints. There are literally hundreds of conditions that fit that description.

Some of these conditions are more serious than others, but it goes without saying that living with joint pain greatly affects your quality of life. It can affect your productivity at work, your relationships at home and among friends, and it can greatly affect your state of mind.

Over 50 million people in the United States have some form of joint pain related condition and Rheumatic Diseases affect over 100 million people in Europe. 4 million Australians suffer from Arthritis, 400,000 of those are suffering from the more serious and crippling form of arthritis known as Rheumatoid Arthritis.

For most places, that's 1 in every 5 people suffering from debiliating joint pain and inflammation. The Arthritis Foundation reports that nearly half of the people that suffer from RD have a difficult time finding work. This is due largely in part to the fact that employers have a difficult time understanding the special needs of people who have these conditions.

You can almost understand why employers would be hesitant to hire indiviudals with RD, because that same report states that some 8.2 million workers in the US are drawing their paychecks while functioning under arthritis-attributable work limitations. In fact, RD has been the most common cause of disability in the US for the past 15 years.

But, RD does not affect only working adults. Almost 300,000 children in the US have some form of RD, that's 1 child out of every 250 children in the US alone. In many cases, Rheumatic Diseases will add injury to insult by bringing with them conditions such as depression and sleep disorders because it's difficult to cope with constant pain and it's even harder to sleep with it.

As mentioned earlier, Rheumatic Diseases are any type of condition that involves joint pain and inflammation. Among these are Arthritis, both Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis. The pain and inflammation from Arthritis can affect knees, wrists and parts of the spinal column. In addtion, common symptoms of Arthritis are also joint stiffness and redness.

The pain is caused by the fact that parts of the joint have been damaged either by wear and tear on the joint or by the fact that the joint is under attack from the body's own immune system as is the case in Rheumatoid Arthritis. This damage can be caused by the aging process or by some type of injury or infection in the joint. It appears that Arthritis seems to run in families, so some people may be more suceptible to this condition than others.

Traditional methods of treatment for Rheumatic Diseases include aspirin, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Ibuprofen, corticosteroids like Prednisone and anti-depressants like Prozac. Some conditions also call for anti-seizure drugs like Neurontin. Many physicians will recommend physical therapy, improved lifestyle like eating better, more exercise, etc and possibly even surgery like hip and knee replacements.

If you have Gout, your doctor may prescribe Zyloprim, a drug that blocks the production of uric acid or Probalan, a drug that boosts the kidney's ability to remove uric acid from your system. However, most of these medications are not without side effects.

Most people are aware that aspirin can cause stomach bleeding and so can Ibuprofen. The combination of these two drugs have also been connected with severe asthma. More seriously, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Celebrex have been associated with some severe side effects like cardiovascular events and life-threatening gastrointestinal bleeding.

In fact, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) issued in April of 2005 a requirement that this drug list on its packaging the serious side effects that have been associated with it. This is called a black box warning. At the same time, doctors were encouraged to consider alternative treatment options for their arthritis patients.

The side effects of Prednisone include glaucoma, fluid retention, high blood pressure, weight gain, mood swings, cataracts, high blood sugar, bone loss and easy bruising among other things. Prozac adds insomnia, weakness, headaches, nausea, diarrhea, anxiety, decreased sex drive, indigestion and dizziness to its list of side effects.

If you're taking Neurontin, you can possibly expect to experience dizziness, drowsiness, problems with coordination, infections, fever, nausea, vomiting, fluid retention, unusual eye movements, diarrhea, weakness, memory loss, nervousness, speech problems, back pain, high blood sugar, twitching and changes in mood or behavior.

Alternative methods of treatment for RD have come to include many things. Widely accepted are better eating habits, regular and moderate exercise, getting plenty of rest, pacing yourself, physical therapy, chiropractic, massage therapy and acupunture. Many experts have also come to recommend Glucosamine and TENS therapy (Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation).

For Lupus, the hormone DHEA, Vitamin E and the herb known as astragalus have been beneficial to some according to Prevention magazine. Almost every research source listed swimming and water aerobics or hydrotherapy as part of a beneficial treatment plan for all types of RD. This is because the buoyancy of the water reduces stress on the weight-bearing joints.

According to the International SPA Association (ISPA), hydrotherapy has been in use in European spas since the early 1800's, but its use goes back much further. There are recorded uses of hydotherapy spas as far back as ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman civilizations. It's the commonly used term for water therapies using jets, underwater massage and mineral baths.

These treatments use physical water properties, such as temperature and pressure, for therapeutic purposes, to stimulate blood circulation, remove toxins and treat the symptoms of certain conditions like Rheumatic Diseases. Check with your doctor and see if hydrotherapy is right for you.

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