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We may not be able to avoid pain, but we can take action to minimize it.

Pain that does not subside after a few days of self-care requires medical attention. Your doctor can help you design a life with less pain.

Chronic bone and joint pain

Any time you sit, stand, walk or perform any of your daily activities, you are using your bones and joints. It is not normal to experience pain in your bones and joints that make you wince when you move.

This is not what it means to get older.

Chronic pain is generally pain that is present for more than three months. It can be caused by accidents, injuries, underlying disease, muscle strains and even stress. It is often progressive and the cause can be difficult to determine. Common problems that can cause chronic bone and joint pain include osteoporosis; a condition of decreased bone strength, arthritis; an inflammation of one or more joints, bone spurs; bony projections that form along the edges of bones and repetitive stress injuries; a group of injuries that occur when too much stress is placed on one part of the body. Only your doctor can perform the physical exam and order the appropriate tests necessary to diagnose and treat your chronic bone and joint pain. When caught early, these problems can be more easily and more effectively treated – even prevented!

Successfully treating and managing arthritis

Arthritis is an umbrella term for more than 100 diseases that target the joints and musculoskeletal system, causing joint pain, stiffness, inflammation – even deformity. Treatment and management options are available. Do not suffer unnecessarily from the pain of arthritis. Treatment focuses on relieving symptoms AND increasing joint function and may include:

* Medications that can help reduce pain, swelling and inflammation, interfere with pain signals and slow joint damage.

* Injections that can remove excess synovial fluid (the lubricating fluid found in joints) and administer medications to help reduce the inflammation, pain and swelling.

* Physical therapy, which improves your range of motion, strengthens muscles around painful joints and increases stability and balance and helps reduce pain.

* Surgery that can slow joint deterioration, replace a deteriorated joint with an artificial one and can lock two bones in the joint together to provide stability and reduce pain.

Physical and occupational therapy for injury and pain

Physical and occupational therapy is one of the first steps to manage your pain. Physical therapists can help you deal with pain and improve your mobility through exercise, water therapy and use of heat and cold. Occupational therapists can teach you how to perform daily activities more easily. Regain your independence by partnering with your hospital to customize a plan for you to start moving and stop hurting. Still not convinced? A therapist is an expert who can:

* Help you set realistic goals and design a plan for you to achieve them.

* Coach you in your movements.

* Keep you motivated and on track.

* Teach you proper form.

* Modify your treatment if appropriate.

* Answer your questions.

* Track and properly evaluate your progress.

* Team up with your doctor to maximize your treatment.

What does your life with less pain look like? Maybe it would include engaging in the sports and pastimes that you love or accomplishing daily tasks with ease. Or keeping up with your children and grandchildren, sleeping comfortably through the night, or simply having the freedom to do what you want.

Amy Fachman is public relations and marketing coordinator at Fremont Health.


News Editor

Tammy Real-McKeighan is news editor of the Fremont Tribune. She covers news, features, religion stories and writes the weekly faith-based, Spiritual Spinach column.

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