Arthritis is one of the most common ailments Dr. Nikesh Seth treats. Various types of arthritis affect millions of Americans, but what is it about the disease that makes joints hurt? Pain is our body’s way of telling our brain that something’s wrong. However, sometimes the body has a “glitch” and pain signals get frazzled.
Arthritis is an injury to the joints that involves damaged tissues, and like any tissue injury, the tissues release chemicals to the nearby nerves. In turn, the nerves send a message to the brain, which processes the message and alerts the nerves to do something about it. This is why if you cut yourself while prepping dinner, you stop immediately.
Your body wants to get rid of the cause of the injury, while simultaneously tapping into its natural ways of pain management. One is to send off painkilling chemicals, endorphins, to dull the pain. The brain will also tell the nerves to block any forthcoming pain messages due to this injury. This is what makes pain “stop.” However, with arthritis, that particular message doesn’t always get delivered.
There are two types of pain: Acute and chronic. Acute pain is from injury or disease and is included in the body’s warning system. The pain is sharp and intense but can also last for a few days or weeks (i.e., pain following a tooth extraction). Sometimes if acute pain isn’t treated, it becomes chronic pain.
Chronic pain is defined as pain lasting at least three months. Arthritis pain is a common type of chronic pain. It is usually described as dull, throbbing, or burning. Pain may last because there is no treatment for a particular condition, or because of a poor diagnosis. Sometimes the pain can shift nerve cells in the spinal cord and brain, so even well after pain is treated, there can be discomfort. In a way, chronic pain can become a disease in itself.
No matter what kind of arthritis a person has, or degree of pain, relief is available. Schedule an appointment with Integrated Pain Consultants to discover safe, non-surgical options for arthritis pain.