New York Rheumatologist, Oliver Kurucz, MD

New York Rheumatologist, Oliver Kurucz, MD with a practice in Pearl River and
Chief of Rheumatology at Nyack Hospital shares how to reduce arthritis pain.

Nyack, N.Y. April 29, 2014  -  If you’re feeling pain in your fingers, knees, hips and spine, don’t just assume it’s a natural part of getting older. You may be experiencing symptoms of osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis. If your doctor diagnoses you with osteoarthritis, there are steps you can take to reduce the pain, including taking medication, exercising, managing your weight, getting enough rest and modifying your diet.

Signs of osteoarthritis include achy joints after physical work or exercise, and joint stiffness, especially when you first wake up or have been in the same position for a long time. Joint swelling is another common symptom. If you think you may have arthritis, see your doctor. In addition to a physical exam, you may require X-rays of your bones or joints, as well as blood tests to help your doctor rule out other possible causes of your symptoms.

Once you are diagnosed, your doctor can help you make a plan to manage your symptoms. This can include medications, exercise and lifestyle changes.                      

Your doctor may recommend over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen or prescription medication to reduce your arthritis pain and improve functioning. The doctor may recommend a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) to control pain and inflammation. These drugs include aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen and naproxen sodium. Some NSAIDs are over-the-counter, while others require a prescription. These drugs can cause stomach problems.

The longer a person uses these drugs, the more likely they are to cause side effects. Other medications used to treat osteoarthritis include topical creams, rubs and sprays to relieve pain.


An exercise plan to manage arthritis symptoms often includes:

  • Strengthening exercises to help keep or increase your muscle strength (strong muscles can support and protect the joints affected by arthritis). These exercises can be done with weights or exercise bands.

  • Aerobic exercises such as brisk walking to help you improve your overall fitness and function, and control your weight

  • Range-of-motion exercises to help reduce stiffness and improve the flexibility and movement in your joints

  • Balance and agility exercises to help your maintain your daily living skills.
No specific foods will improve your arthritis, but controlling your weight through a healthy diet and exercise can help you reduce stress on your weight-bearing joints in the knees and feet. You should also regularly get a good night’s sleep, to make you feel better during the day. If your arthritis is interfering with your sleep, talk with your doctor. You may be able to adjust the timing of your medications to provide more pain relief at night.     
                       
Other nondrug treatments that can help relieve osteoarthritis pain include heat (warm towels, hot packs or a warm bath or shower) and cold (cold packs or bags of ice wrapped in a towel); massage, or acupuncture. For more information on how to live well with osteoarthritis, visit the Arthritis Foundation (www.arthritis.org).

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Nyack Hospital is a 375-bed community acute care medical and surgical hospital located in Rockland County, NY. Founded in 1895, it is a member of the New York-Presbyterian Healthcare System, an affiliate of Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and has partnered with Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine providing clinical rotations to third-year medical students. Its mission is to provide competent, innovative and accessible emergency and acute care services to the residents of Rockland County and surrounding areas.