Pain Treatment Options for Arthritis and Auto-Immune Conditions
By: Dr Samuel Pegram
Although many patients receive medicine for pain treatment, they are developing irreversible joint damage and languish at the office of their primary doctor.
But remission for pain relief is possible at Advanced Pain Care.
Medicines for the treatment of these types of illnesses are excellent at preventing progression of disease, decreasing disability, improving limited joint function, and even securing complete remission.
Once the cartilage has eroded, regardless of why, you are left with constant joint pain.
This erosion could be due to osteoarthritic degradation or inflammation due to rheumatoid conditions.
Maintaining joint integrity and joint pain relief are our most significant challenges as rheumatologists.
Our current medicines are great at preventing progression, but they do not always do well for pain control. This is why it is a great asset to have a pain specialist familiar with your situation close by and on-call.
Approaching Effective Pain Treatment
Finding the correct diagnosis is the first and most crucial step towards effective pain management.
If you are looking at inflammatory forms of Arthritis, such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, or Psoriatic Arthritis, your treatment options are considerably different from degenerative joint conditions, such as in Osteoarthritis.
Our armory for treating autoimmune diseases has grown exponentially in the past 20 years as we continue to learn more and more about the nature and intricacies of inflammatory illnesses.
Now you have a great deal of extremely powerful and very potent medicines designed to prevent progression of disease and, at times, even secure remission.
If it is simply osteoarthritis or another form of degenerative joint disease, we have nothing to prevent the progression of the illness. Your options are symptomatic therapy including physical therapy, anti-inflammatory agents, pain control with medications or other invasive modalities, and the protection of the joint – if we can.
A Multi-Disciplinary Approach
At APC, we do not throw pain medicines at you and hope for the best.
We have numerous doctors and specialists at your disposal. These include experts in Orthopedics, Neurosurgery, Nutrition, Physical Therapy, plus our group of very skilled Anesthesiologists/Pain Management Specialists.
By having all of the sub-specialists here in the same practice, it allows you to tap into their expertise for a more thorough approach to pain management, and often a faster and more effective control of your pain.
We can tailor your pain regimen to your individual needs. If you have Osteoarthritis, you may do well with pain medicines, but you may have the most significant benefit from orthopedic intervention.
For example, if you have inflammatory arthropathies of the spine, our neurosurgeon, our physical therapist, and our pain management specialist may be the best combination for your treatment – in conjunction with the therapy from your rheumatologist.
Stop The Body From Attacking Itself
In some cases, your body can be aggressively and effectively stopped from attacking itself. That is our primary goal. As a rheumatologist, we try to prevent the acceleration of the immune process against one’s own tissue.
Most of the time, we are quite successful.
That has been the most significant medical advancement to date in rheumatology.
Medicines that target antibodies now rule the world! Monoclonal antibodies are used to combat infectious diseases and various cancers – and most of this mode of therapy started with our use of these drugs in immunology and rheumatology.
We have an excellent opportunity to prevent the progression of rheumatic diseases, decrease mortality, and to decrease the loss of joint function. We now do this incredibly well with the various groups of medications now at our disposal.
When Should I See A Pain Doctor?
The sooner you come to us, the better off you will be.
Your best opportunity to prevent bone degradation and crippling is when we make an early diagnosis and begin treatment early in the course of the disease.
Simple things like increased morning stiffness, limited ability to make a fist, loss of grip strength in the hands, or limited exercise tolerance, may be the early signs of inflammatory forms of rheumatic diseases.
These symptoms are something that people often chalk up to age, or “I’m working too hard,” etc. Unfortunately, many patients will languish at the office of their primary doctor for months or even years before more aggressive therapy is initiated.
While they are being treated with medicines that will only combat the symptoms, the patient is developing irreversible joint damage, which is what we want to prevent most of all.
If we can see patients in the early stage of their illness, complete the appropriate laboratory and radiographic studies, and make a concise diagnosis – we can prescribe medicines for the symptoms and begin therapy to prevent progression.
In the long term, this gives you a much better chance of living a pain-free life.
Natural Pain Relief: Modifying Your Lifestyle
Preserving joint function is an enormous part of rheumatology treatment.
Sometimes we have to alter our patient’s lifestyles to improve their day-to-day activities.
Some patients may be avid runners or people who like to lift weights. I say all things in moderation because if there is additional stress load placed on joints, you will break down cartilage at a higher rate and destroy joint functionality. You always want to maintain the range of motion of the joints for functional capacity.
Doing simple stretching exercises such as tai chi, yoga, and water sports can be beneficial, while not putting a great deal of stress-load on the cartilage.
Maintaining your weight is another incredibly important process in combating joint degradation and preserving joint function. As you allow more stress on the joint because of increasing weight and pressure, it makes it more difficult for your doctor to do an excellent job in preserving your joints and decreasing pain down the road.
Dietary changes are also pertinent.
There’s no so-called ‘anti-inflammatory diet’ that decreases the progression of an inflammatory process, but maintaining your weight makes a big difference in preserving the integrity of the joint itself.
Key Points For Your Joint Pain Relief
- Early Diagnosis: It’s essential to get a diagnosis and initiate therapy early in the course of your disease.
- 360° Treatment: Be sure to utilize all of the talented specialists that we have at APC. We treat the totality of your condition.
- Stick with the process: Autoimmune conditions wax and wane, so we have to adjust on the fly. A relationship with a rheumatologist is generally a long term one – until we achieve remission.
- Weight management: Maintain your weight for optimal joint health. The heavier you are, the more stress on your joints, and the more pain you will have.
- Exercise in moderation: The harder you exercise, the more joint damage you may cause. Stick to non-weight bearing exercises such as yoga, tai-chi, stretching, and aquatic sports.