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How Your Doctor Can Help You Manage Your Arthritis Pain


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Hi my name is Dr Fraser Birrell. I’m a consultant rheumatologist with Northumbria Healthcare and an honorary clinical senior lecturer at Newcastle University. I’ve been asked by Arthritis Care to make a short film on coping with pain when you have arthritis. The most important message is that you can cope with pain and still live enjoy life.

Counselling

If you are anxious or depressed then you need to make sure that there is somebody you can share those issues with. It might be appropriate to speak to your GP and make sure you can get appropriate counselling and support. Some people will even benefit from being on tablets. The important thing is that those kinds of issues tend not to go away and they make your pain worse. So make sure that you deal with them appropriately and what you will find is you will have a more positive outlook to life and your relationships will benefit too.

Medical Help

Some people find tablets are helpful for their pain and there are various options available over the counter, which many of you will have tried already. Even if you have tried these and not found them helpful, it might be worth asking your doctors advice. In which case they may be able to give you appropriate advice whether it is appropriate for you to take non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, although these do have risks for your tummy and also potentially a risk of heart attacks and strokes. So that has to be balanced against the benefits that you might get from these kinds of tablets. Other analgesics may also be more suitable and it depends on the individual. In general we would try the rub on preparations, which are known as topical anti-inflammatories, before tablets as these are safer.

There are also other options such as transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, TENS, this uses an electrical current to stimulate the skin and that helps provide a distraction and helps block the pain. If you are getting severe pain which is keeping you awake at night then your doctor would be the right person to ask about whether you need to see a surgeon and consider having an operation on the joint.

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Published July 2013

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