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Woman Experiencing Joint Pain & Knee Pain When Exercising and walking

Understanding & Treating Arthritis: How to Better Manage Your Joint Pain

By Kristy Warren


Nearly all of us experience stiff or sore joints from time to time, so how do we know when it’s time to see a doctor? Join us as Dr. Kyle Ungvarsky, Laurel Health family doctor and sports medicine specialist, discusses how arthritis impacts our bodies, what steps you can take to improve your joint health, types of treatment, and why it’s important to see your family doctor when joint pain starts. 

Kyle Ungvarsky, MD, Board Certified Family Medicine and Sports Medicine Physician

As both a certified family medicine and sports medicine physician, Dr. Ungvarsky offers specialized insight into joint health, including how arthritis affects range of motion and how it can be effectively treated to get you back to the activities you love safely and quickly.



Arthritis is an inflammation of the joints that can cause swelling and tenderness / pain. There are many different types of arthritis.


Three of the most common types are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriatic arthritis.

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis, brought on by age and the daily wear-and-tear of our joints, which causes the cartilage that cushions our joints to gradually wear down. Most people develop some degree of osteoarthritis during their life. 


Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune condition where your body attacks your joints, which can cause severe joint damage.


Psoriatic arthritis (PA) affects psoriasis patients, causing inflammation in the joints and skin. Having psoriasis increases your risk of developing this form of arthritis.   




Genetics, age, gender, occupation, lifestyle, diet, level of activity, health conditions, and former injuries all play a role in our risk for developing arthritis. While we cannot modify risk factors like our age or genetics, healthy lifestyle habits can make a big difference in managing arthritis.


In this quick video, Dr. Ungvarsky shares steps you can take today to reduce your risk and better manage existing joint pain


Because arthritis symptoms may come and go, present in different ways, or change in severity throughout the day, an in-depth evaluation is needed to properly diagnose it.


Your doctor may ask you about your:

  • Family history of arthritis and other inflammatory conditions like gout or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

  • Occupation / work history, especially those requiring repetitive motion like typing, lifting, packaging, or bending

  • Injury history (e.g., sprains, breaks, ligament tears)

Following a thorough discussion of your medical history, your doctor may perform a physical exam to evaluate your functional movement, joints, and posture. They may also order bloodwork to look for specific inflammation markers and recommend imaging exams in weight-bearing poses to further evaluate your joint health.



Just as there are many types of arthritis, there are many approaches to treating its symptoms to improve mobility and manage pain. Your arthritis type and personal health history will determine which treatments are appropriate.


Treatments may include physical therapy, at-home exercises, medication, and changes to your diet, work, or exercise routines. You should always talk to your family doctor before starting treatment.

A Happy Older Couple Jogging for Exercise



Diet and exercise can help alleviate symptoms, so your doctor may recommend some lifestyle changes to manage your arthritis and support your joint health. These changes may include:


  • Eating more foods that support joint health like nuts, fruits, vegetables, and fish

  • Modifying your physical routines (e.g., proper lifting or running techniques)

  • Cooking with anti-inflammatory foods like turmeric

  • Losing weight to reduce joint pressure and stress


Over-the-counter symptom relief: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) like Ibuprofen or Motrin can be used to reduce pain and joint inflammation; OTC drugs should be used as advised by your physician.


Prescribed medications: Depending on your type of arthritis, your doctor may prescribe oral or infused medications. For example, if you have rheumatoid arthritis, your doctor may recommend medication specifically designed to fight RA joint damage.


Physical therapy and at-home exercises: Your doctor and physical therapist can create a set of safe exercises to use at home to improve mobility and reduce stiffness / pain.




It is important to take control of joint damage early. While arthritis typically starts to affect patients in their mid-30s or 40s, it can impact patients who are younger, including children. If you or a loved one are experiencing joint stiffness, pain, or swelling, be proactive and talk to your doctor right away.


Are you or a loved one suffering from joint pain? Make an appointment with Dr. Ungvarsky in Wellsboro at 570-724-1010 for a comprehensive evaluation and personalized treatment plan.