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It Takes a Village to Deal With Chronic Arthritis Pain

Experts stress a multi-disciplinary approach

SUNDAY, May 19, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- It takes more than a pill to handle chronic pain from arthritis.

The latest recommendation from pain professionals is that the pain should be treated with a multi-leveled approach that includes everything from medication and proper nutrition to exercise and family and patient education.

The new guidelines, directed towards health care providers, were unveiled by the American Pain Society (APS) at its recent annual meeting in Baltimore.

The recommendations range from standard medication guidelines to some more innovative ideas:

  • In cases of juvenile chronic arthritis, emphasis should be placed on patient and family. education
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy could be used to help reduce pain and psychological disability and enhance pain-coping skills.

APS president Michael Ashburn told the meeting that the impact of chronic pain on patients' lives extends far beyond just the physical discomfort.

"Research shows that the under-treatment of pain in adults and children can have many serious consequences, including physiological complications, such as muscle breakdown and weakness; psychosocial impairments, including anxiety and depression; and an overall decrease in quality of life," he said.

When people refer to arthritic pain, they could be referring to pain from the more than 100 conditions that fall under the generic term of arthritis. The most common form of the condition is osteoarthritis, which occurs with aging and is said to affect eight out of every 10 men and women over age 75.

The second most common type of arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis (RA), with which the body's immune system attacks healthy joint tissue, causing inflammation and damage. The condition is more common in women and can appear between the ages of 20 and 50.

About two percent of all adult Americans suffer from RA.

More information

The Arthritis Foundation always has new material about managing the disease.

SOURCE: May 2002 American Pain Society multi-disciplinary report
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