Arthritis Pain Management

We Care About You and Your Pain

At Desert Care Network, we know how hard it can be for people with arthritis to carry out day-to-day tasks such as walking up the stairs or doing moderate to high-intensity exercises. If you’re suffering from this condition, the good thing is, our orthopedic physicians in Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley area are experienced in arthritis pain management, treatment and prevention. We are eager to help you get back the life you deserve.

What Is Arthritis?

Arthritis is an umbrella term for different types of joint-related conditions which can affect people of all ages. In fact, more than 54 million people in the United States have arthritis, and it is considered the leading cause of work disability in the country. Arthritis comes in many types, but two of the most common ones are osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis (OA) is also known as “wear and tear” arthritis or degenerative joint disease. As the most common type of arthritis, it usually affects the hips, knees and hands. The cartilage within the joint of people with OA breaks down. This causes the bone underneath to slowly change and get worse over time which may lead to reduced function or worse, disability.

Osteoarthritis does not “spread.” However, it may also affect other joints, especially if you change your gait or walking pattern to compensate for pain and lack of motion.

Signs and Symptoms of OA

The signs and symptoms of OA may come and go, and may also range from mild to severe. These may include the following:

  • Pain or aching
  • Limited range of motion or decreased flexibility
  • Stiffness
  • Swelling

Risk Factors for OA

The following factors may increase a person’s risk of having OA:

  • Family history of OA
  • Joint injury
  • Gender (women are more likely to have OA than men)
  • Obesity
  • Old age

What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune and inflammatory condition. This causes your immune system to incorrectly attack healthy cells in the body which may then lead to inflammation, pain and/or swelling in the affected body parts. RA usually affects the knee, hand and wrist joints. It may also affect other body tissues and cause complications in crucial organs such as the heart, eyes and lungs.

Signs and Symptoms of RA

Patients with RA may experience times of flare (when symptoms get worse) and times of remission (when symptoms get better). The common signs and symptoms of RA may include the following:

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Pain or aching in more than one joint
  • Stiffness in more than one joint
  • Swelling and/or tenderness in more than one joint
  • Weakness
  • Weight loss

Risk Factors for RA

The following factors may increase a person’s risk of having OA:

  • Family history of RA
  • Gender (women are two to three times more likely to have RA than men do)
  • Obesity
  • Old age
  • Smoking
  • Women who have never given birth

How Is Arthritis Diagnosed?

If you experience arthritis symptoms, whether it’s OA or RA, please schedule an appointment with one of our orthopedic physicians in Palm Springs or the Coachella Valley area. Aside from reviewing your symptoms, your doctor may also conduct a physical exam and/or request an X-ray and some laboratory tests to understand the cause of your arthritis pain and to provide the best treatment options possible.

What Are the Treatment Options for Arthritis?

Unfortunately, there is still no cure for arthritis, but your doctor may offer treatment options and lifestyle changes that can help relieve your symptoms, keep them from getting worse and prevent further complications. Your doctor may also recommend strategies for arthritis pain management at home. These may include the following:

  • Losing weight
  • Medications (i.e., prescription drugs and over-the-counter pain relievers)
  • Physical therapy with muscle strengthening exercises
  • Slowly increasing joint-friendly physical activities
  • Surgery (i.e., hip or knee replacement)
  • Use of crutches or canes or a walker for support

How to Prevent Arthritis

Truth be told, some factors could make it hard for you to prevent arthritis. These may include your family medical history, age and gender (as mentioned, arthritis is more common in women). However, you can develop some habits that can help reduce your risk of developing arthritis pain and help manage your symptoms such as the following:

  • Consuming a healthy diet
  • Getting enough exercise
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Practicing a healthy posture
  • Seeing your doctor regularly
  • Preventing joint injuries

Our Advanced Joint Replacement Program

Whether you’re experiencing mild, moderate or severe arthritis symptoms, our orthopedic physicians and staff at Desert Care Network are ready to provide the compassionate care and treatment you need to live a normal life. We usually recommend conservative treatment options first, such as pain medications, weight loss, physical therapy and exercises that can help keep your muscles strong and joints flexible.

If these are not enough, our physicians may recommend joint replacement which is designed to restore the function and eliminate the pain associated with arthritis of the , hip, knee or shoulder. This program offers minimally invasive surgical techniques and enhanced anesthesia approaches that lead to shorter hospital stays and faster recovery time.

Are You a Candidate for Joint Replacement?

Your doctor may recommend joint replacement surgery if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Joint damage as shown in X-ray results
  • Severe pain when doing routine activities such as standing and walking
  • Pain that keeps you awake at night

Why Choose Desert Care Network?

Desert Care Network is a healthcare leader for arthritis pain management and total hip and knee replacements in Palm Springs and Coachella Valley. Desert Regional Medical has received specialty certification from the Joint Commission for its program in Hip Replacement and Knee Replacement. But more than being recognized for its commitment to compassionate care and excellence, we are proud of how we genuinely care about our patients.

You’re not meant to live in pain. We’re here for you. Call 888-572-0084 to start get started.

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What to Expect After Knee Surgery

Data from the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) states that 90% of people who have knee replacement experience significant pain reduction. Therefore, it’s safe to say that you may live a more active, efficient and more comfortable life after going through knee surgery.

If your doctor recommends knee surgery or you’re waiting to have your procedure, this article can help manage your expectations and give you more information about taking care of your “new” knee.

Hospital Stay and Discharge

You may stay at the hospital for one to four days, depending on the nature of your knee surgery (e.g., total knee replacement or partial knee replacement, minimally invasive or traditional). The length of your stay may also depend on the speed of your recovery. Your doctor may declare your discharge once you accomplish the following:

  • Get in and out of bed on your own
  • Eat, drink and use the bathroom
  • Experience tolerable levels of pain
  • Perform recommended home exercises
  • Understand knee precautions advised for proper healing and to prevent injuries
  • Walk with an assistive device if prescribed any (e.g., cane, crutch or walker) and be able to climb up and down two to three stairs

Note: Your doctor may also transfer you to a rehabilitation or skilled nursing center if, after several days, it is not safe for you to go home. Meanwhile, if you have outpatient knee surgery, you may go home the same day of the surgery.

Recovering After Knee Surgery

You may need assistance at home for several days to a few weeks while recovering. If you don’t have a family member or a friend who can be with you upon discharge, we recommend hiring a caregiver or a physical therapist.


It’s normal to experience moderate to severe swelling in the early stages of your recovery. You may also experience mild to moderate swelling for about three to six months after the surgery. Applying ice, slightly elevating your leg or wearing compression stockings can also help reduce swelling.

Please inform your doctor if you notice warning signs of a blood clot which may include:

  • Increased swelling of the foot, ankle or calf
  • Pain in the calf or leg that is not related to the incision
  • Redness or tenderness below or above the treated knee

A blood clot may also go to the lungs and become life-threatening. Please call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room if you experience the following:

  • Chest pain with coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sudden chest pain

Wound Care

Here are some guidelines that can help you take care of your surgical wound and prevent infection:

  • Change the wound dressing as often as directed by the orthopedic doctor. Follow the instructions given, and keep the wound clean and dry at all times.
  • Ask your doctor when you can take a bath. You may need to wait for a few days after the surgery.

Inform your doctor immediately if you experience warning signs of infection, which may include:

  • Chills
  • Drainage of the wound
  • Fever
  • Increased pain when moving and at rest
  • Increased redness, swelling or tenderness of the wound

Medication, Supplements and Diet

Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics (to prevent infection), opioid and non-opioid pain killers, anti-nausea medications, stool softeners and oral or injectable blood thinners. Please take each of your medicines as prescribed.

Your provider may recommend supplements or foods that are rich in iron or vitamin K. It is also best that you maintain a healthy weight to avoid putting additional stress on your joints.

Resuming Physical Activities

Your doctor may recommend home exercises that can help you gradually get back to doing your normal activities. Here’s a list of the most common physical activities and when you may be able to do them safely.

  • Returning to work – it may take several days to a few weeks before you can safely return to work, depending on the day-to-day physical demands of your job.
  • Driving – you may be allowed to resume driving when you are no longer taking opioid pain pills.
  • Sexual activity – you may resume sexual activity within a few weeks after surgery, although it may still depend on your condition. Please consult your doctor.
  • Sports – please ask your doctor’s clearance before trying or going back to a specific sport. Low-impact sports such as swimming may require less recovery time as compared to high-intensity sports such as football.

Final Thoughts

Every year, about 600,000 people in the United States have knee surgery. Response to surgery varies, and each person heals differently, so talk with your doctor about recovery concerns and going back to your normal activities. Again, if you experience life-threatening symptoms of a blood clot, such as chest pain and shortness of breath, please call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room immediately.