Friday, July 27, 2012

Treating Wrist Arthritis

Wrist arthritis can be extremely painful and debilitating. If you or a loved one has recently developed symptoms of arthritis is in the wrist area, understanding what exactly wrist arthritis is and why it occurs can prove to be valuable information that you can use to your advantage.

What is Wrist Arthritis?
Arthritis comes in different variations, but it is commonly found in two primary forms: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. With osteoarthritis, the articular cartilage in the wrist starts to wear down over time. This occurs from normal wear and tear throughout your life, or it can happen as a result of a big injury. Once the articular cartilage wears off, it causes the bones in the wrist area to grind together when you move. When this happens, it can be very painful without something in between the bones.

By comparison, rheumatoid arthritis is a type of autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks parts of the body. When you have premature arthritis, it can come on all at once. It also occurs in both sides of the body equally. This means that if one wrist is hurting because of her mental arthritis, the other one will also start hurting.

Noninvasive Treatment Options
If the condition is caught early on in the process, the doctor will usually recommend engaging in noninvasive treatment. With these types of treatment options, the primary objective is to relieve the pain and to minimize any swelling that could occur as a result of the arthritis.

One very simple noninvasive way to treat arthritis is to change your regular activities. In many cases, arthritis flares up when an individual is doing a specific activity. For example, someone who plays the piano may notice their arthritis hurting when they play. By simply eliminating this activity, you may be able to minimize pain. In some cases, you cannot or do not want to stop these trigger activities. (For example, you may love playing piano or have to use a computer keyboard – two very common trigger activities.) If that is the case, you can incorporate an arthritis wrist brace or glove into these activities, which will hold your wrist steady, provide compression pressure, and minimize pain. In some cases, doctors will recommend completely immobilizing the wrist. Again, a wrist brace or splint will hold the wrist completely straight and still for a long duration, which will minimize or eliminate symptoms.

Exercising regularly can also make a big difference when it comes to helping your arthritis. By moving your wrist around, it can boost the range of motion, increase blood flow, and help it feel better overall.

Some doctors will recommend treating wrist arthritis with medication. Most of the time, they'll start out with some kind of anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen and possibly work up to something stronger if the pain persists. When the pain is pretty severe, the doctor may recommend getting a steroid injection into the area. By injecting steroids into the wrist, this can cause the inflammation to go down significantly. Cortisone is typically the first steroid that doctors will use in this situation.

Surgical Options
When noninvasive measures do not provide any relief, then the doctor may recommend a surgical procedure. There are a few different options that can be done in surgery. The first option involves removing the bones that are causing the pain. There are some very tiny bones in the wrist that can be removed to fix the problem.

Another option to consider is fusing two bones together. The surgeon may also recommend putting a prosthetic joint in the wrist to address the problem. With this option, patients have been known to regain full motion in their wrists without any of the pain that typically comes with wrist arthritis.

Considerations
If you are experiencing pain in your wrist and you think it could be arthritis, contact a doctor as soon as possible. When the condition is detected early on, it can be treated easier without having to go through surgery. Then you can try various treatment options to handle the issue.

About the Author: MMAR Medical Group Inc. is a wholesale distributor of medical support braces, diabetic shoes for men and women and hot or cold therapy units. MMAR offers one of the largest selections of support braces for pain and postoperative recovery.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Best Practices for Using TENS Electrotherapy on your Back

Electrotherapy is most commonly prescribed as a part of a physical rehabilitation regimen but is also an incredibly effective, non-invasive way to treat arthritis and other chronic pain. Electrotherapy (i.e. TENS – Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) reduces pain through the use of low-risk energy currents to aid in tissue repair, improve joint function, and assist with blood flow.

Here are some helpful tips for using a TENS device on your back or shoulders:

1. Make sure the skin is clean and dry
TENS devices utilize small stick-on electrodes to deliver electric current to the body. Before adhering electrodes to your skin make sure that skin is free of sweat, lotions, or other oils in order to achieve a proper contact. This will ensure that electrodes do not detach when you move and can actually extend the usable life of the electrodes (which are typically operable for about 10-20 uses).

2. Get help
When using an electrotherapy device it is important to get the electrodes in the right places to achieve maximum pain relief. Since it can be difficult to reach your own back, ask a family member or friend for help with placement of the electrodes and connection of the lead wires.

3. Position electrodes evenly
Whether you are using two or four electrodes on your back make sure that they are at the same height and an even distance away from the spine to achieve the best results. Follow your doctor’s suggestions about where to place electrodes, making sure not to position them directly over top of the spine.

4. Orient lead wires appropriately
Since electrodes are connected to the TENS device with lead wires, the length of lead wires determines how close the electrotherapy unit needs to be to the area being treated. Therefore, when placing the electrodes it is best to have all the lead wires going in the same direction, or in similar directions, to allow for maximum range of motion. Properly orienting lead wires ensures that there will be enough slack in the lead wires to clip the TENS device onto your belt area, or rest it comfortably beside you.

5. Follow your doctor’s instructions
Your doctor will prescribe a particular course of use for your electrotherapy device based on your muscle density. Be sure to only use the TENS device as prescribed- do not adjust the intensity level or duration of use without first consulting with a medical professional. If you experience worsening pain stop using the device immediately and notify your doctor.

6. Make sure you have backup batteries
Nothing is worse than getting your electrodes placed and lead wires connected only to find out that the batteries are dead in your TENS electrotherapy device, so be sure to keep spares on hand.

7. Avoid water
A TENS device is, after all, an electronic device- keep it away from sinks, tubs, pools, and other wet areas. If you have to wash your hands or be in contact with water for any reason, turn the electrotherapy device off and disconnect it first.

8. Know the limitations of electrotherapy
While electrotherapy is approved to treat back pain, joint pain, arthritis, post-operative pain, acute pain and chronic pain in most adults, electrotherapy should not be used if you are on a cardiac pacemaker.

About MMAR Medical: MMAR Medical Group Inc. is a supplier of orthopedic medical products including a wide selection of orthopedic braces for the back, ankle, knee and upper body, cold therapy systems as well as elctrotherapy devices. From top quality post-operative back braces to a wide selection of arthritis knee braces, MMAR Medical has bracing and support solutions for everyone.