Dealing with stiff or painful joints can be draining and frustrating. This condition is quite common, with about a third of American adults suffering from some kind of joint pain. You can experience pain in any joint, but the most common places include the knees, shoulders, and hips.
At Houston Pain Specialists, our expert provider, Dr. Hui Kang, focuses on the two main causes of joint pain: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Each respective condition has its own set of causes, and each affects your joints differently. In this blog, we go over both conditions and how movement can help ease your pain.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition that affects your joints in a couple of different ways.
Normal wear-and-tear to the cartilage, which keeps your bones from scraping against each other, deteriorates over time or due to injury or infection.
Your entire joint can be affected by inflammation, changes in your bones, and deterioration of the tissues that connect your bones to your muscles and hold your joints together.
When you have osteoarthritis, your bones begin to grind against each other, limiting your mobility and causing pain, swelling, stiffness, sensitivity to touch, and even bone spurs.
Symptoms typically get worse over time and can range from uncomfortable to debilitating. It’s difficult to diagnose osteoarthritis before symptoms show up, but early detection and intervention can help slow down its progression.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition in which your immune system mistakes your body’s tissues for something that shouldn’t be there. It attacks the lining of your joints, causing inflammation, swelling, and eventually, erosion of your bones.
Rheumatoid arthritis can also affect parts of your body other than your joints, such as your blood vessels, heart, and lungs.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) typically begins in smaller joints, like your fingers and toes, and makes its way to larger joints. Symptoms to look out for include:
- Heat near your joints
- Stiffness, particularly in the mornings
Other symptoms may arise as well if it spreads to other parts of your body. Just as with osteoarthritis, you should get treatment for your rheumatoid arthritis symptoms right away in order to prevent further damage.
If you leave RA untreated, your risk for developing other serious conditions like osteoporosis, lung disease, infections, and heart disease increases.
How movement can help
Regular exercise is vital for reducing symptoms associated with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Although the idea of exercising may not be the most appealing when your joints are stiff and painful, even a small amount of exercise daily is great for improving your health.
Making exercise part of your daily routine can help you by:
- Increasing flexibility and range of motion
- Strengthening the muscles surrounding your joints
- Maintaining bone strength
- Improving balance
- Boosting energy
- Making way for a better night’s sleep
You may think that movement can make your already uncomfortable symptoms worse, but in fact, forgoing movement is more detrimental than not. If you leave out exercise, your muscles can weaken and may not be able to efficiently support your bones, which puts more stress on your joints.
More to the point, obesity can be a direct cause of your osteoarthritis, so incorporating movement into your days can help prevent its development.
Dr. Kang works with you to put together a treatment plan that’s best suited for your needs and doesn’t leave you exhausted. If you’re noticing symptoms of osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, give our Houston, Texas, office a call.
Don’t wait until the damage is extensive enough to affect your quality of life. Get treatment at Houston Pain Specialists today.