Joint Pain

Elder holding hands | Healthier Me TodayJoints are where two bones connect. They provide support and aid in movement. Damage to the joints can cause pain and interfere with movement. Joint pain is any discomfort, soreness, or ache that you may experience in these joints. Joint pain is common and most of the time doesn’t require hospitalization or medication.

Joint pain commonly occurs in the hips, spine, knees, feet, or hands. Patients with joint discomfort will complain of a throbbing or burning sensation. Sometimes the joint may feel sore, stiff, or achy, especially in the morning. This pain goes away as the joint loosens up. Too much activity, however, may worsen joint pain. When joint pain is severe, it can affect your quality of life.


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Types of Joint Pain

  • Osteoarthritis: This is a common type of arthritis. It occurs due to the wear and tear of the cartilage that cushions the bones. Osteoarthritis happens slowly and worsens as one gets older.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis: This chronic condition causes the joints to swell. If not treated properly, they can become deformed.
  • Gout: This is a painful condition caused by crystals collecting in the joints. It results in swelling and severe joint pain, especially in the big toe.
  • Bursitis: This is joint pain that is due to overuse and occurs in the knees, hips, shoulder, and elbows.
  • Injury: Sometimes joint pain can be due to injuries like sprains and broken bones.
  • Infections: Rash, fever, and flu infections may cause the joints to ache too. This pain goes away when the infection clears up.
  • Cancer of the Joints: While this is rare, it leads to a tumor that presses against the joints and causes pain.
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs): Some STDs, like gonorrhea and chlamydia, may cause joint pain.

Symptoms of Joint Pain

Some of the common symptoms of joint pain include:

  • Joint stiffness
  • Joint tenderness
  • Swelling of the joint
  • Limited movement of the affected joint
  • Joint weakness and instability
  • Fatigue

Diagnosis of Joint Pain

The doctor performs a physical exam to diagnose joint pain. They will ask you questions to pinpoint the cause of your joint pain. An X-ray will also be ordered to identify the joint damage, typically expecting arthritis as the cause. If the doctor thinks that something else may be causing your pain, a blood test will be ordered. This is done to rule out autoimmune diseases. A sedimentation rate test may also be done. This test measures the inflammation levels in the body as well as your blood count.

How to Treat Joint Pain

joint pain - healthier me todayNo treatment can end this ailment completely. There are, however, solutions to help you manage the symptoms and pain.

  • Medication: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and topical pain relievers help reduce inflammation and pain.
  • Exercise: Being physically active can help reduce joint pain in the long run. Stretching before any physical activity also increases your range of motion.
  • Weight Loss: Joint pain is sometimes caused by pressure from excessive weight. Maintaining a healthy body weight can ease the pain and even help the joints to loosen.
  • Non-Prescription Treatment: Taking warm baths, getting massages, and adequate rest may help.
  • Physical Therapy: Physical therapy helps strengthen the afflicted joint. PT can also help in improving its motion range.
  • Medical Treatments: Medical intervention will depend on what is causing your symptoms. The doctor will draw out some joint fluid to test for gout and other infections. Surgery or joint replacement may be recommended in severe cases.

How to Live With and Manage Joint Pain

As stated before, this ailment won’t go away completely — unless it’s caused by a temporary infection. Managing it is the only way to deal with the pain in the long run.

Some ways to manage joint pain are:

  • Exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy body weight
  • Taking over-the-counter pain medications like ibuprofen or topical capsaicin
  • Using icepacks and wrapping the area with a bandage can help reduce inflammation
  • Using a wheelchair or crutches to avoid putting more pressure on the aching joint
  • Avoiding strenuous activities such as heavy lifting

FAQ

  1. When do I see a doctor? Getting the right diagnosis can make all the difference. See a doctor if your joints feel swollen or are beginning to deform. You also need to go to the ER if the pain is so severe that you can’t use the joint anymore.
  2. What foods repair joints? Eating foods rich in calcium, vitamin K, vitamin D, vitamin C, and omega-3 can help strengthen joints.

Healthier Me Today is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment, always consult with your healthcare professional. Stay healthy!

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