People suffering from rheumatoid arthritis often complain about increase in pain during night hours. This article shares information on arthritis pain management at night so that patients are not deprived of sufficient sleep.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a common concern among middle-aged individuals. It is a long-term autoimmune disease wherein, people suffer from pain and inflammation in the neck region, back, ankles, knees, hands and/or other joints of the body. The immune system fails to identify healthy bone tissues and starts producing antibodies which attack the healthy tissues causing pain and swelling.
Initially, the pain associated with arthritis is less, but if left untreated for a long period of time, the intensity of pain becomes unbearable. Millions of individuals suffer from rheumatoid arthritis in the United States and women are more prone to develop this disease. The intensity of pain is less during the daytime, but increases significantly during the night, thereby, depriving patients of a good night’s sleep. Increased stress due to inadequate sleep contributes to overall misery of such patients and that is why management of pain during sleeping hours becomes necessary.
Management of Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain
Exercise and Self-massage
Exercising is one of the essential requirements to control the pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis. Taking up and doing regular exercises for rheumatoid arthritis that are known to relieve pain and reduce the stiffness of joints is a good way of pain management. By consulting a physiotherapist, patients can learn exercises that would help in relieving the pain associated with the affected joints of their body.
As the pain increases during the night, exercising before going to bed may help in minimizing their suffering. Self-massage is another way of controlling pain. Self-massage methods like pads, massage chairs and hand massagers can be used easily by patients at night. Massaging will not only decrease the pain, but will also relax the body and help in falling asleep faster.
A physician’s consultation is extremely important for all patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. Doctors usually prescribe medications that help in reducing pain. Medications like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and corticosteroids are prescribed to patients. Long-acting medications are also available to control pain so that the patient can sleep peacefully at night. Many over-the-counter creams are also available, which contain menthol or eucalyptus oil that help in pain relief.
Heat and Cold Therapy
Heat therapy is the easiest and quickest method for providing relief from pain at night. Hot packs can be used on painful joints and the surrounding areas that will reduce stiffness and pain. Cold packs can be prepared by using ice to treat joints that have redness and swelling along with pain. Before using cold packs, one must not directly place ice on the affected area, but instead, place a cloth or towel over the area and then apply ice so that the skin suffers no harm. Taking a hot bath also helps in curbing pain and encouraging joint movement.
Suitable Pillow and Mattress
For people suffering from pain in the neck region, it is advisable to use a suitable pillow that helps in maintaining the right posture while sleeping. Pillows suitable for every sleeping position are available in stores, which can be brought to reduce the chances of developing pain due to improper sleeping posture. The quality of the mattress is also a contributing factor for arthritis pain at night. If the mattress is too hard and does not support the body, it will in no way provide relaxation to the patient. A foam topper can be placed over the hard mattress to match the requirements of body. Using a mattress-warming pad will keep the mattress warm and provide pain relief by heat therapy (that will go on throughout the night).
Some Home Remedies
- Massage the area with warm olive oil if the pain becomes unbearable at night.
- Before going to bed, wrap the painful joint with red flannel so that the intensity of pain does not increase during the night.
- Vinegar is a good pain reliever for people dealing with arthritis pain. Simply rub the joints with warm vinegar before sleeping and go to bed without worrying about the pain.
- Prepare a massage oil containing 10 parts of olive oil and 1 part of Rosemary, Thyme or Garlic oil. Massage aching joints with it for quick pain relief.
A study has established that patients with rheumatoid arthritis are in a better position to manage the pain at night when they are at home and not at the hospital. This is because, at home they are able to freely walk around, have hot drinks and take pain killers if the pain becomes unbearable, but in a hospital setting, they find it difficult to do these things because of the fear of disturbing other patients. Therefore, it is recommended that patients staying at home should take proper medications, exercise and follow a healthy diet to keep a check on arthritis pain and enjoy a fruitful life.