Understanding rheumatic pain

by health writer, Karen Evennett

You’re more likely to have heard your grandparents’ generation talk about rheumatic pain, or rheumatism, than to have used the term yourself – but you’re just as likely to suffer from it.

Rather than a single condition, rheumatism is actually a very broad umbrella term encompassing all manner of causes of inflammation and painful joints, muscles and surrounding tissues. So what constitutes rheumatism, and what can you do about it?

What are rheumatic pain conditions?

Over 100 different conditions lead to symptoms of rheumatism. The term covers joint pain and muscle pain – and also painful  tendons and ligaments — anywhere in the body. Examples of rheumatic conditions include: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Frozen Shoulder, and Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI).

What causes rheumatic pain?

While certain gene variants can make you more susceptible to a rheumatic condition, environmental factors also play a part. For example an inherited cartilage weakness may mean you’re at greater risk of developing pain in your joints if they are then subjected to excessive wear and tear. The pain itself is caused by inflammation in the joint when protective cartilage is worn down and bones are left to rub against each other.

What treats rheumatic pain?

. Oral non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) reduce inflammation, and therefore help reduce pain. They work by targeting COX (cyclo-oxygenase) – an enzyme responsible for the production of prostaglandins, the hormone like compounds that trigger the inflammation process. The action is to reduce the production of prostaglandins, thereby reducing pain and inflammation.

However NSAIDs (even in topical treatments) have the potential to cause gastro-intestinal side effects.

. Non-pharmacological management of rheumatic pain includes exercise (to strengthen the muscles that support sore painful joints), weight loss (because excess weight puts extra pressure on painful joints), electrotherapy (eg transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation – TENS), and topical creams or gels containing capsaicin for treating knee and hand pain.

What can you do to prevent rheumatic pain?

Regular exercise strengthens your muscles and joints, and makes them less prone to injury. Seek advice on your technique, and wear appropriate shoes to make sure that you’re not applying excessive pressure to particular joints or muscles.

 What natural pain relief treats rheumatic pain?

Research shows that Sigesbeckia orientalis has anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antioxidant and cartilage protective effects. This is an annual herb from the Asteraceae family, native to Africa and Asia, but naturalised in Europe and Australasia.

As a traditional remedy, Sigesbeckia has been used for hundreds of years to treat different types of joint and musculoskeletal pains, with its earliest medicinal use referenced in 659AD in China. It is now licensed in the UK as a Traditional Herbal Registration (THR) product, exclusively in Phynova Joint and Muscle Relief Tablets.

. Phynova Joint and Muscle Relief is a traditional herbal medicinal product used for the relief of backache, minor sports injuries, rheumatic or muscular pains, general aches and pains of the muscles and joints, based on traditional use only. The tablets have no known side effects or drug interactions. The product is gentle on the stomach and can be taken daily, with or without water or food; and it can also be combined with other pain medications.

. Sigesbeckia does not compete with the action of NSAIDs and the product is not an inhibitor of COX enzymes. Instead, they work on macrophages (the white cells involved in chronic inflammation).  Their action is to help prevent the macrophages from releasing the pro-inflammatory chemicals that perpetuate inflammation and cause injury.

The product also increases the expression of key structural components of cartilage, decreases the expression of protease enzymes that degrade collagen, and reduces levels of cytokines involved in cartilage destruction.

. The THR (Traditional Herbal Remedy) mark is regulated by the MHRA and awarded to products suck as Phynova Joint and Muscle Relief Tablets that can demonstrate:

. At least 30 years of safe traditional use.

. The same quality control as other over the counter drugs.

. The content of active ingredients claimed in the label is accurate.