Questions and Answers about Arthritis Pain
Things You Can Do to Manage Arthritis Pain
- Eat a healthy diet.
- Get 8 to 10 hours of sleep at night.
- Keep a daily diary of pain and mood changes to share with your
- Choose a caring physician.
- Join a support group.
- Stay informed about new research on managing arthritis pain.
What Research Is Being Conducted on Arthritis Pain?
NIAMS, part of the National Institutes of Health, is sponsoring
research that will increase understanding of the specific ways to diagnose,
treat, and possibly prevent arthritis pain.
Recent NIAMS studies show that levels of several neuropeptides
(compounds produced by cells of the nervous system), such as substance P, are
increased in arthritic joints. Substance P is involved in the transmission of
pain signals via the nervous system. At the University of Missouri-Kansas City,
researchers are studying effects of substance P in the spines of animals with
chronic arthritis. Findings from this study may be used to develop specific
drugs for chronic pain such as that associated with arthritis.
NIAMS studies are also looking at other aspects of pain. At the
Specialized Center of Research in Osteoarthritis at Rush-Presbyterian-St Luke's
Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois, researchers are studying the human knee
and analyzing how injury in one joint may affect other joints. In addition,
they are analyzing the effect of pain and analgesics on gait (walking) and
comparing pain and gait before and after surgical treatment of knee
At the University of Maryland Pain Center in Baltimore, NIAMS
researchers are evaluating the use of acupuncture on patients with
osteoarthritis of the knee. Preliminary findings suggest that traditional
Chinese acupuncture is both safe and effective as an additional therapy for
osteoarthritis, and it significantly reduces pain and improves physical
At Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, NIAMS researchers
have developed cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) involving both patients and
their spouses. The goal of CBT for arthritis pain is to help patients cope more
effectively with the long-term demands of a chronic and potentially disabling
disease. Researchers are studying whether aerobic fitness, coping abilities,
and spousal responses to pain behaviors diminish the patient's pain and
NIAMS-supported research on arthritis pain also includes
projects in the Institute's Multipurpose Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases
Centers. At the University of California in San Francisco, researchers are
studying stress factors, including pain, that are associated with rheumatoid
arthritis. Findings from this study will be used to develop patient education
programs that will improve a person's ability to deal with rheumatoid arthritis
and enhance their quality of life. At the Indiana University School of Medicine
in Indianapolis, health care professionals are monitoring joint pain in
patients with osteoarthritis and documenting this information. The goal of the
project is to improve doctor-patient communication about pain management and
increase patient satisfaction.