Cystic fibrosis (CF) is an inherited orthopedic condition and life-threatening disorder characterized by thick, sticky secretions that cause significant damage to the lungs, intestines, pancreas, and more. CF affects the production of cells that produce sweat, mucus and digestive juices.
Healthy cells secrete thin, slippery fluids and mucus. In CF patients, however, secreted fluids become so thick and sticky they plug up ducts, tubes and passageways in the internal organs including the lungs and pancreas.
Lower Quality of Life
CF patients experience a wide range of symptoms including:
- Persistent cough with thick spit and mucus, wheezing, and inflamed nasal passages
- Foul-smelling greasy stools, poor weight gain, and severe constipation.
But it is joint pain that significantly affects the quality of life among CF patients and may start in patients as young as 10 years old.
In CF, the most common form of joint pain affects the large joints including the knees, ankles, shoulders, elbows and wrists. Doctors call it CF-associated arthritis to distinguish it from other types of arthritis.
While pain episodes usually last for less than a week, the joint pain can be sudden, severe, and disabling. It can also be accompanied by other symptoms, such as skin rashes, high swinging fevers, and flu-like symptoms.
Pain Management Methods
In most cases, doctors and patients can manage the pain in terms of its onset, severity and duration. Most patients will quickly respond to the administration of over-the-counter pain medication, particularly non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen. In some patients, short courses of prednisolone (i.e., a derivative of cortisol) may be necessary for pain management.
In patients with severe pain, the expertise of a rheumatoid specialist is a must for effective pain management. Patients and their caregivers should never use prescription painkillers without close medical supervision of their doctors.
Patients can also use home treatments to speed up healing or lessen pain. These include resting the affected limb, local heat treatment, and a healthy diet.
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