Arthritis… How to ease your pain and stay mobile

About 10 million people in the UK have arthritis*, a condition that causes painful joints and is often accompanied by changes in the shape of the joint. *NHS Choices

There are many different types of arthritis, but the two most common are:

  • Osteoarthritis. When the cartilage between the bones in the joints becomes destroyed, the bones rub directly onto each other causing pain. The most commonly affected joints are the knees, spine, hips and hands.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis. A fault in the immune system causes the body to attack the joints causing pain and swelling. Flare ups are a common feature in this type of arthritis, and pain and stiffness may be worse in the morning.
The best treatment for your osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis can initially be managed through lifestyle changes, such as exercise. When you do need a painkiller, the first choice tends to be paracetamol, often taken regularly for the full effect. If paracetamol isn't effective, you can try an NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) like ibuprofen. Topical NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen gel, are often useful for hand or knee arthritis. And corticosteroid injections into the joint are also sometimes used.

The best treatment for your rheumatoid arthritis

As well as painkillers, treatment for rheumatoid arthritis often involves medicines which tone down the immune system. If you're taking these you'll need to have regular blood tests and report any symptoms, such as a sore throat. NSAIDs are also commonly used to reduce swelling.

If you're prescribed a regular oral NSAID for arthritis, you may need to take some extra medication to protect your stomach. Just ask your pharmacist or doctor for more information

What's the alternative?

Alongside your painkillers you can also use a TENS* machine, like the Lloydspharmacy Joint Pain reliever, and other drug-free products, such as hot and cold packs.

What else you can do to help yourself
  • Take regular exercise - it helps build the muscles that support the joint, helping with pain. Choose gentle low impact exercises such as swimming and speak to your GP first if you're not used to exercise
  • Keep to a healthy weight - excess weight can put more stress on joints such as your knees
  • Pace your activities ' don't do too much in one go
  • Keep warm - many people find their joints hurt more in the cold and wet, so keep well wrapped up
    Speak to your pharmacist or GP if:
  • You have symptoms of arthritis but haven't been diagnosed
  • Your pain isn't controlled
  • You're on medicines to tone down your immune system and you get symptoms such as a sore throat - seek urgent advice as this may be a sign of a blood disorder
  • Your joint pain becomes worse
  • There are any changes in your condition
  • You regularly buy diclofenac or ibuprofen products

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