Arthritis Pain

One of the most debilitating effects of arthritis is the pain it causes. It affects people in different ways, so it's important to clearly communicate the level of pain you are feeling. This way, your doctor can come up with a treatment plan that is right for you. Among the treatment options for pain from arthritis are medications, hot and cold therapy, exercise, and lifestyle changes.

An Overview of Arthritis Pain

The word "arthritis" literally means "joint inflammation," but it is often used to refer to a group of more than 100 rheumatic diseases that can cause pain, stiffness, and swelling in the joints. These diseases may affect not only the joints, but also other parts of the body, including important supporting structures like muscles, bones, tendons, and ligaments. They can also affect some internal organs.
Most forms of arthritis are associated with pain that can be divided into two general categories: acute and chronic. Acute arthritis pain is temporary. It can last a few seconds or longer, but then improves as healing occurs. Some examples of things that cause acute pain include burns, cuts, and fractures. Chronic arthritis pain, such as that seen in people with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, ranges from mild to severe, and can last weeks, months, years -- or even a lifetime.

Understanding Pain

Pain is the body's way of alerting you that something is wrong. The International Association for the Study of Pain defines it as "an unpleasant experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage to a person's body." Specialized nervous system cells (neurons) that transmit pain signals are found throughout the skin and other body tissues. These cells respond to things such as injury or tissue damage. For example, when a sharp knife comes in contact with your skin, chemical signals travel from neurons in the skin through nerves in the spinal cord to your brain, where they are interpreted as pain.
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