Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Muscle relaxers and arthritis

Of all the chronic conditions, arthritis is probably the most common in America today. In terms of those registered as disabled, it's the most common cause cited. As those who have this painful condition will know, it's very difficult to find an effective way of managing the pain over the longer term. Although some treatments can and do produce relief for a few days or weeks, the risk of side effects from long-term use rules out extending the relief through drug use. So we need to begin with a brief description of arthritis so we understand the problem. The word is applied to a wide range of different conditions, but the common denominator is pain the joints and damage to the surrounding muscles when people keep trying to move despite the stiffness in the joints. The most obvious symptoms are a swelling in the joints accompanied by pain when moving. This shows most clearly in the mornings, people waking stiff after lying still in bed.

As it stands, there's no recognized cure for any of the different forms of arthritis. There are, however, a number of common treatments that have proved partly effective. The first is drugs to reduce the inflammation that builds up in the joints. This reduces the swelling and, in most cases, also reduces the pain. With a reduction in the inflammation, damage to the joint itself is slowed. Without this, the need for surgery to replace joints becomes almost inevitable. Then comes a detailed program of physical therapy supported by real and continuing lifestyle changes. Because arthritis reduces mobility, physical therapy becomes essential to maintain muscle tone, build endurance and strength, and retain some flexibility. However, unless there is a positive commitment to diet and lose weight, the situation will grow rapidly worse. Inactivity and no change in diet quickly leads to obesity. As the weight the joints has to carry increases, mobility becomes more painful and the condition worsens.

If the drugs used to control inflammation are not sufficient to control the pain, a separate painkiller will be required. It's always better to start with a low dosage of a less powerful drug. Whatever you take over time will slowly lose its effectiveness, forcing you to move up to a more powerful drug. Hence, it's always best to start with the lowest possible level of drug to reduce the pain. We then come to the use of muscle relaxers. Over the short-term, these are very effective in reducing pain and improving mobility. Some people with arthritis experience painful spasms which respond immediately to a drug like Carisoprodol. As part of the general treatment regime to improve mobility, these drugs support the work of the physical therapists and help patients to get a better night's sleep. Depending on how you react to Carisoprodol, you may find it better to take it shortly before you go to bed. The drug will work while you are asleep to reduce the amount of stiffness you feel when you wake in the morning. If you also feel drowsy when you take the drug, it will improve the quality of the sleep. However, if the drug does not make you sleepy, it may be better to change the cycle so you get the maximum relief during the day while you are alert.

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