When repetition causes pain – osteoarthritis

OA hand
Late stage hand osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a very common and painful condition. One way to explain it is that the cushion, or cartilage, lining bones wears away leaving bone to wear on bone.

Some of the most common causes of osteoarthritis are:

  • Injury to the joint– e.g. sports or motor vehicle accident
  • Repetitive use of a joint
    • In your job
    • In hobbies
    • In sports
  • Being overweight

Currently, there is not a way to rebuild the cartilage that wears away. So, the goals of treatment are:

  • to maintain what cartilage is left,
  • avoid making it worse,
  • keep you doing what you need to do during your day
  • control pain

Occupational and physical therapists can help.  They are experts in helping you find new ways to perform tasks without making the joint worse. There are many tools that can help support painful joints such as knee braces and thumb splints.

Ways to manage osteoarthritis pain without medication include:

  • heat application to the painful joint
  • lose weight if overweight (especially helpful for foot, knee, and hip arthritis)
  • swim – less wear on the joint than land-based exercise
  • find new ways to do tasks that don’t wear on the joint


The number one, gold-standard therapy for OA is acetaminophen. (A common brand name is Tylenol). Acetaminophen can help manage the pain. It is most effective if it is taken regularly (two extra strength 500mg tablets three times daily). This works better than waiting for pain to get really bad then taking a dose.

Note, be sure to check with your doctor to make sure your liver is healthy. And, limit or avoid alcohol to further protect your liver while taking acetaminophen.

The other medications commonly used for OA are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (brand names such as Motrin and Advil) and naproxen (brand name Aleve). These are also good for reducing arthritis pain. They can raise blood pressure, so avoid them if you have high blood pressure, heart failure, or a strong family history of heart attack. They can worsen kidney function, so talk with your doctor to be sure your kidneys are healthy. They can irritate your stomach, so always take them with food. Another option in this class of medicine is celecoxib (brand name Celebrex) that has less stomach irritation.  There are also topical versions that avoid some of the side effects.  You rub these onto the joint area that is in pain.

So, first and foremost, stop doing repetitive activities that are hurting your joint(s). Second, take steps to preserve the joint function you still have. Third, medication can help with the pain association with osteoarthritis. Be sure to discuss the pros and cons of the medication options with your doctor and/or with us.

For more information about osteoarthritis and treatment, contact us at www.medsmash.com.


Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Albert Einstein

Just as repetitive movement can worsen osteoarthritis, repetitive approaches to anything can ultimately lead to harm if those approaches are not productive.

  • In your spiritual life, how responsive are you to God’s call?
  • How much do you vary your Bible study?
  • What types of worship have you experienced?
  • How does your prayer life vary in the seasons of your life?

It is so easy to fall in to a rut. You are busy; daily tasks use up all of your time. Prayer becomes relegated to particular times or left out completely. Sunday worship becomes your primary connection to God. Fellowship with other believers only occurs walking in and out of church.

Paul has some ideas about the many ways to worship in his letter to the Colossians:

Colossians 3:14-17 ESV

And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

I encourage you to get creative and deliberate in your spiritual life. God has so much to share with you as you let Him in. His joy, peace, and love can change everything!



Image Source:  National Library of Medicine; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


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