What You Need to Know About Arthritis Pain.
Your hips, fingers, and knees are all joints, or points in the body where two or more bones meet allowing for movement. Soft tissue, like cartilage, prevents these bones from rubbing together, while tendons and ligaments provide support. When these areas become inflamed or worn down, you’ll likely experience joint pain, or what’s commonly known as arthritis.
Here’s what you need to know about arthritis pain, including the most common causes and symptoms as well as treatment methods.
What Is Arthritis?
Arthritis refers to the swelling or inflammation of the joints. This swelling or inflammation can cause pain. More than 100 forms of arthritis and related conditions exist, affecting people of all ages, genders, and races. In the United States, it’s the most common cause of disability and it affects about 50 million American adults and 300,000 children.
You’re more likely to develop arthritis if you’re:
- A smoker
- Lacking exercise
- Overweight or obese
- A woman
While joint pain is common in most adults, many types of arthritis are more common in women. Rheumatoid arthritis, for example, affects 75% of women.
Different types of arthritis have different signs and symptoms. Common arthritis symptoms include:
- Limited range of motion, including how far your joint can move and the direction that it can move
What Is Joint Pain?
Joint pain is soreness or inflammation that typically occurs in your knees, hips, hands, feet, and spine. It can be caused by arthritis as well as other conditions, including:
- Injuries, like sprains
- Tendinitis, or an inflammation of your tendons
- Viral infections
- Overuse of your joints
What Is Arthritic Pain?
Arthritis can cause pain in different ways. The severity of pain varies from person to person. Your own arthritis symptoms and pain can differ daily.
About one in four adults with arthritis say they have severe joint pain related to their arthritis. Severe arthritic pain tends to be more common among adults who also have other chronic problems. These include obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
Severe joint pain can make it harder for you to carry out everyday tasks. In some people, the joints may even become deformed or twisted.
Causes of Arthritic Pain
Arthritic pain can be caused by:
- Damage to your joint tissues. This could be due to wear and tear or the disease process.
- Inflammation, which causes swelling in your joints.
- Muscle strain, because your muscles are working hard to protect your joints from movements that cause more pain.
- Fatigue, which can make your pain feel worse.
Types of Arthritic Pain
While the most common forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, there are several other types, too. Here’s a brief look at some of them.
Osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis, or degenerative joint disease, is the wear-and-tear type of arthritis. It happens when the cartilage that protects the ends of your bones wears down over time. Your bones may then rub against each other, causing severe pain. Pain can also come from your ligaments, lining of your joints (synovium), and bone.
Osteoarthritis usually affects joints in your knees, hands, hips, and spine. About 80% of adults age 55 and older have some form of osteoarthritis, although only about 60% may experience symptoms.
Rheumatoid arthritis. This is an autoimmune disease, which means that your immune system doesn’t work properly and mistakenly attacks your healthy tissues. This mainly affects the lining of your joints, but can also affect your skin, blood vessels, lungs, and heart. Rheumatoid arthritis symptoms include stiffness and pain that gets worse during the span of a few weeks or months.
Doctors have yet to determine rheumatoid arthritis causes. It may be because of genes that react to environmental factors, like viruses or bacteria, which then trigger the disease.
Gout. This is a form of arthritis that causes crystals of uric acid to form in your joints. This may cause sudden swelling and intense joint pain, especially in your big toe. Gout pain often happens at night.
Back pain. Several forms of arthritis can cause back pain. These include ankylosing spondylitis, fibromyalgia, and psoriatic arthritis. The most common area of arthritis back pain is the lower back.
Fibromyalgia. This disorder causes widespread body pain and fatigue as well as memory issues and sleep problems. Fibromyalgia tends to run in families. Some illnesses also seem to trigger fibromyalgia. If you have some types of arthritis, like osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, you may be more likely to develop fibromyalgia.
Pain isn’t something you have to live with. There’s no cure for arthritis and the joint damage can’t be reversed, but there are treatments that can help with arthritis symptoms and improve your quality of life. Early treatment is especially important when it comes to rheumatoid arthritis, as it helps slow down the progression of the disease.
Some recommendations for managing arthritic pain include:
Therapy. Physical therapy can help improve your mobility and strength. Occupational therapy can help you with your quality of life, such as managing daily tasks.
Exercise. When you have stiff and aching joints, exercise is probably the last thing you want to try. But regular physical activity can help you manage your pain and ease symptoms. Talk to your doctor about what type of exercises are best for you.
Support. Talk to your doctor, your friends, and your family, or look for support groups in your community. Ask for help when you need it.
Surgery. Usually, surgeries are for people whose arthritis symptoms haven’t improved with other treatments.
Alternative treatments. There are many different alternative and complementary treatments available, including acupuncture, herbs and supplements, massage, meditation, relaxation techniques, taichi, and yoga.
Cannabidiol (CBD). Recently, CBD has become a popular treatment for many health conditions. CBD is an active compound found in the hemp plant, a variety of cannabis plants that has very low levels (less than 0.3%) of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
As CBD is a relatively new alternative treatment ingredient, there are limited studies on its effect on joint pain. But early animal studies have found that CBD applied to the skin may help decrease arthritic pain and inflammation. Medical experts say that CBD may help with certain arthritis-related symptoms, such as insomnia, anxiety, and pain.
Muscle MX Can Help You Treat Arthritis Pain
This is the first part of a series by Muscle MX about arthritis and chronic pain. Muscle MX carries an extensive range of lab-tested CBD products such as drops, gummies, balms, and lotions. These products are made from American-sourced hemp, as well as other natural ingredients and botanicals.