There are over 100 variations of arthritis, but the two most common forms are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. While both types cause swelling, inflammation, and pain in the joints, they do so in very different ways.
Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, is a degenerative condition caused by normal wear and tear. This condition affects the cartilage around the joints. When protective cartilage breaks down, our bones lose the cushion that normally protects them from grinding together when we move our bodies. This wear and tear typically occurs gradually over time and can result in pain and restricted movement.
Unlike osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic condition in which the body’s immune system attacks the membrane around the joints. When this happens, the lining becomes inflamed and swollen. Over time, rheumatoid arthritis can lead to the deterioration of the cartilage and bone within the joint.
Beyond these two common forms of arthritis, there is an almost endless number of conditions that can cause joint pain and inflammation. From gout to bursitis to psoriasis, millions of people around the world suffer from painful joints at some point in their lives.
There are a number of factors that may increase your chances of developing some type of arthritis:
- Family history: Some forms of arthritis, like rheumatoid and psoriatic, run in families, making those with a family history more likely to develop these conditions at some point in their lives.
- Age: The risk of developing certain types of arthritis tends to increase with age.
- Your sex: Depending on the type of arthritis in question, your sex can affect your risks. For example, rheumatoid arthritis is more common among women, while men are more likely to develop gout
- Previous joint injury: Injuries to the joints can increase the chances of eventually developing arthritis in that location
- Obesity: Extra weight puts more stress on the joints, increasing wear and tear that can lead to arthritis.
Arthritis can be an extremely debilitating condition, affecting your ability to walk, perform basic daily tasks, or take care of yourself. Because there is no cure for most forms of arthritis, treatment is designed to relieve symptoms and improve quality of life. The most common treatment options include:
- Painkillers: Basic nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) like Advil and Alieve can help reduce pain and inflammation in less severe cases of arthritis. For more severe pain, opioids may be prescribed on a short-term basis.
- Creams & Ointments: Topical agents like creams containing menthol or capsaicin can provide temporary relief to painful joints.
- Immuno-suppressants: Drugs like methotrexate may be used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and other systemic conditions by suppressing your immune response to slow or stop its attacks on your joints.
- Corticosteroids: This type of drug improves arthritis symptoms by both reducing inflammation and suppressing the immune system. Steroids may be taken orally (drugs like prednisone) or injected directly to the site of the pain (cortisone).
- Physical Therapy: Depending on what type of arthritis you have, physical therapy can help you strengthen your body and improve your range of motion to alleviate restricting arthritis symptoms.
- Surgery: For more extreme cases that are not well managed with conservative treatments, surgery may be indicated to repair or replace damaged joints.
- Compression: The use of compression garments has been shown to reduce swelling, pain, and inflammation in joints affected by arthritis.
The Role of Compression in Arthritis Treatment
Compression gear is an effective, affordable, and non-invasive option for treating the pain, stiffness, and discomfort associated with all types of arthritis. It accomplishes this in two main ways.
First, wearing a compression garment can simply warm the area of the body where it’s worn. Because heat very effectively treats pain, keeping the joints warm throughout the day can help keep pain at bay.
The second and more important way that compression treats arthritis pain is by improving circulation to reduce swelling and inflammation. The cornerstone of compression therapy is vascular efficiency.
By putting either targeted or graduated compression on different parts of the body, compression garments aid in pushing blood toward the heart. Improved blood circulation to and from the heart reduces swelling by preventing blood from pooling in the extremities and decreases inflammation by moving more oxygen and other anti-inflammatory agents to the affected area.
When it comes to compression gear for arthritis there are a number of excellent options to help you feel better and move more freely. Arthritis affects the joints, so the most commonly affected areas are the hands, feet, knees, elbows, and wrists. No matter where you experience arthritis pain, there is a compression garment out there help get you moving.
While any of the compression gear recommended on this site can help with your arthritis pain, we’ve gone further to find products and brands specifically vetted for this purpose. Below is a list of the best compression products on the market for arthritis.
The Best Compression Products for Arthritis
EzyFit’s knee brace is a fantastic product at a great price. This brace features stabilisers on both sides of the knee to create strong, but flexible support and three fully adjustable closures so you can achieve the precise level of compression you need. This knee brace also comes in three sizes: M, L, and XL to be sure that everyone can find a brace that fits them properly. This is particularly important for arthritis sufferers who often have large, swollen joints that don’t always fit in the typical knee sleeves on the market. In addition to the great fit, no-slip silicone gel lines mean the brace will never slide down your leg, giving you stable, effective, all day support and relief.
Despite being marketed as a fitness brace, Kunto’s elbow sleeve is a great option for arthritis sufferers. The sleeve provides even pressure across the elbow to keep your joint warm and comfortable throughout the day. The sleeve is designed to conform to your body to ensure it stays in place and never slips. With four unique sizes to choose from, just about anyone can enjoy the pain relief benefits of this sleeve. Their four-way compression weave offers the pressure and support you need, while maximizing mobility.
Crucial Compression’s foot and ankle support sleeve is the ideal option for arthritis sufferers. This sleeve offers comfortable, breathable support that provides almost immediate relief to sore feet and ankles. This sleeve is thin enough to be worn discreetly under your socks and shoes for all day relief. It provides an effective level of compression without being too difficult to pull on, a crucial factor for those dealing with arthritis.
For wrist pain from arthritis, WYLLIELAB’s wrist brace is a wonderful choice. The brace is ergonomically designed to provide the right amount of support without putting uncomfortable pressure on your thumb. This brace is made from high quality materials and can be adjusted to the optimal compression level. It is durable and can be worn all day to manage pain and help with mobility.
TechWare’s ankle brace compression socks are great for both foot and ankle pain caused by arthritis. These socks offer graduated compression to improve circulation and reduce pain and swelling in the feet. Their closed toe, anatomical left and right foot design means they will fit your feet properly and provide all the support you need. These socks even come with a relaxed, flared top band to ensure that even those with bad arthritis pain in their hands are able to pull them on.