Understanding the most effective methods for managing arthritis is key for leading a normal and relatively pain-free lifestyle while suffering with the condition, so what works, and what doesn't?
The good news is that the treatment of arthritis doesn't all come down to drugs. In fact, some of the most effective methods bypass traditional medications in favour of alternative techniques.
A Cape Town-based arthritis clinic, Constantia, cites non-pharmaceutical methods as being some of the most effective for the treatment and management of arthritis - most notably in terms of mobility and ability.
These techniques involve resting the painful joints regularly to help minimise inflammation - this can be done through frequent periods of sitting, and through the use of mobility aids such as stairlifts and wheelchairs which allow the sufferer to continue living a normal life but which also take off some of the pressure on the joints, enabling them to heal.
Looking more at the pain side of arthritis than the mobility side of things, over-the-counter pain medications can make a significant difference to a sufferer's ability to cope with the common effects of the condition.
While some doctors and hospitals may prescribe stronger medications, regular analgesics that can be purchased from a pharmacy are usually enough to stave off pain, and, when used according to the manufacturer's dosage advice, they're very safe. Both oral and topical painkillers are very effective, according to the 2011 study in the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
Non-effective techniques are somewhat up for debate. The problem is that many have not been researched to an extent that we can say with any certainty that they provide no benefits. The following, however, is widely believed to be bogus:
Anti-inflammatory medications continue to be taken by arthritis sufferers all around the world - they’re the obvious solution to treating inflamed joints, and these NSAIDS, as they’re known, are recommended by many doctors.
Some arthritis clinics, however, suggest that anti-inflammatories by themselves provide little to no benefit in terms of some types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, and are much more beneficial in the treatment and management of osteoarthritis. For rheumatoid arthritis, anti-inflammatories are believed to be more beneficial when taken alongside analgesics.