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All About Osteoarthritis and Women

13 Tips: Rein in Your Osteoarthritis Pain continued...

Creams, rubs, and sprays applied to the skin can also help relieve pain. These can be used in addition to oral painkillers -- but use them as directed, too, to make sure you get maximum benefit. Zostrix, Icy Hot, and Bengay are among the nonprescription topical pain relievers.

12. Alternative Therapy. When conventional pain treatments don't work, many people turn to complementary or alternative therapies. Research shows that acupuncture can help relieve joint pain by stimulating natural, pain-relieving chemicals produced by the nervous system.

Glucosamine and chondroitin are well-known and researched supplements for arthritis. Both are natural substances found in joint fluid. Each is thought to stimulate the increase of cartilage production and reduce inflammation. Studies have had mixed results; one large study found that the supplement had no effect on mild osteoarthritis, but did help with moderate-to-severe arthritis. Another study found that glucosamine slowed progression of osteoarthritis in the knee.

It doesn't hurt to try glucosamine or chondroitin, says Kaur. "If it doesn't work, it's one thing you can cross off your list."

13. Use Assistive Devices. If you feel unstable on your feet -- like you might fall -- it's time for a cane, walker, or knee brace. "Assistive devices help take weight off the joint and decrease pain, in addition to making you feel more stable on your feet," says Kaur.

She cautions: Make sure you select a cane that fits you. Then learn how to use it correctly. "A lot of people don't know how to select a cane -- the correct length of cane," she tells WebMD. "They don't how to hold it, how to use it. You don't use a cane on the same side as the pain. You want to take the load off that side."

Life isn't all about osteoarthritis. That's why the more you know about how to manage pain, the easier you'll manage your arthritis -- and life.

Reviewed on January 23, 2007

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