Joints form the connections between bones. They are made up of different parts that work in harmony to allow you to bend, stretch, twist, and turn easily but with some limits. Your joints undergo stress day-in-day-out to support your overall body weight and most of all, they allow you to move.
While your joints are designed to offer full support and mobility, sometimes they may suffer from wear and tear or become diseased, thereby resulting in pain. Joint pain, also known as arthralgia, can be extremely uncomfortable and may limit your movement. Joint pain can also prevent you from sleeping and performing daily activities.
The commonly affected joints include knee, hip, ankle, and shoulder. Multiple joint pain, also known as polyarticular pain, involves pain in multiple joints. In simpler terms, polyarticular joint pain may affect different joints at different times.
Common and Main Causes
Joint pain can be caused by a variety of factors. They include:
• Osteoarthritis • Rheumatoid arthritis • Bursitis • Gout • Strains and sprains • Injuries • Wounds • Trauma • Tendonitis
• Osteoporosis • Dislocation • Osteomyelitis • Adult Still’s disease • Bone cancer • Broken bone • Septic arthritis
• Rickets • Psoriatic arthritis • Lyme disease • Lupus • Rickets • Paget’s disease of bone • Reactive arthritis • Pseudogout
• Leukemia • Meraglia paresthetica • Avascular necrosis • Complex regional pain • Hypothyroidism • Ankylosing spondylitis • Gonococcal arthritis
Symptoms of Joint Pain
Your joint pain may be accompanied by various symptoms. It’s important to schedule an appointment with your doctor if you notice these symptoms;
• Swelling • Tenderness and warmth around the joint • Redness
• Weakness • Stiffness
In case your pain has been caused by an injury, it may be accompanied by:
• Sudden swelling • Intense pain • Inability to use the joint…e.g..you’re unable to move around or stretch
• Joint deformity • Stiffness • Locking of the joint
Joint Pain Self-Care
When your joint pain is mild, there are a few self-care tips you can use. They include;
• Use over-the-counter pain relief medications such as ibuprofen, Motrin, including others. These drugs are very effective in reducing mild joint pain
• Apply an ice pack on affected joint for about 15 to 20 minutes a few times a day.
• Apply a heating pad, take a warm shower or soak in a warm tub. The warmth helps relax muscles and increase blood circulation in the joint area.
• Avoid using your joint in a way that can cause pain or worsen it
Ways to Prevent/Guard Against Joint Pain
Joint pain can be devastating, especially if it’s chronic. It can restrict you from performing your daily activities and even have you confined to a wheelchair. Joint pain can largely affect your life quality. Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to guard your joints against the pain. Below are joint-guarding and saving tips to prevent pain and enable them to stay functional throughout your life.
• Avoid Injuries
Avoiding injuries will reduce your risk of developing joint pain, whether from the injury or arthritis. You can do this by avoiding exercises and physical activities that increase your joint pain the next day.
Only select exercises that do not cause pain to the joints or those that allow you to move within the limits of your pain.
You can relieve joint pain by engaging in minor exercise as it helps increase the strength and flexibility of your joint. You can also incorporate some stretching and bending to relieve and prevent joint pain. Also, wear protective sports gear during exercise or sports to prevent injuries that may lead to joint pain. Cease exercising if you injure your knees, ankle, or any other joint and seek immediate treatment to avoid further complications.
• Avoid Foods that Increase Inflammation
If you’re suffering from conditions such as arthritis, it’s important to stay away from foods and ingredients that increase inflammation in the body (arthritis occurs due to increased inflammation).
These foods and ingredients include refined carbohydrates, processed foods with high sugar and fat content, gluten and casein, red meat, Aspartame, alcohol, omega-6 fatty acids, transfats, and saturated fats. Instead, consume foods that beat inflammation. They include all foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, leafy green vegetables, olive oil, tomatoes, broccoli, celery, nuts (almonds and walnuts), and fruits such as oranges, pineapples, strawberries, blueberries, and cherries.
• Lose Weight
Losing weight is one of the effective measures to prevent joint pain. Excess body weight is in fact one of the most common and biggest risk factors for arthritis and joint injuries. This is because the weight exerts excessive pressure on your joints, causing them to wear and tear faster.
By reducing your weight, you reduce stress and pressure on your joints. It can also help alleviate the pain. Engage in workouts that will help you lose weight. Also, incorporate a healthy diet to maintain a healthy weight.
• Get Chiropractic Treatment
Chiropractic is commonly used as a pain relief alternative for muscles, bones, joints, and connective tissue. You can seek relief for your joint pain through chiropractic treatment. In the case of joint dislocation, a chiropractor may help return to its original form. Chiropractic treatment may also help correct the cause of joint dysfunction, thereby preventing future joint pain.
• Incorporate Herbal Remedies
Various herbal remedies can guard your joints against arthritis and also alleviate joint pain. Best teas for alleviating and preventing joint pain include green tea, ginger tea, stinging nettle tea, rosehips, and willow bark. These teas have powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
Other herbal remedies include Burdock root, flax, turmeric, and licorice.
• Have your Vitamin D levels Checked
Low levels of Vitamin D increase your risk of osteoarthritis. Vitamin D and calcium are crucial in the formation and maintenance of strong bones and joints and a deficiency can lead to weakness and wear and tear of joints. If low, your doctor will administer supplements. You can also up your Vitamin D intake by eating foods rich in the vitamin as well as calcium. Basking in the sun can also help your body absorb the much-needed nutrient.
• Stay Hydrated
The cartilages in your joints are mostly made up of water which forms a cushion. The cushion prevents the joints from rubbing against each other. Dehydration deprives the joints of the cushioning effect, making them more susceptible to wear and tear. This of course increases your risk of severe joint pain.
Protect your joints by drinking enough water throughout the day.
• Wear Heels Occasionally
As a woman, wearing high heels frequently can cause problems to your joints. The heels exert too much pressure on your joint, which might cause them to wear and tear fast.
Wear heels a few times a week or switch to joint-friendly shoes such as flat or those with an inch or less heels.
• Regular Massage
Regular massage is an excellent means for relieving joint pain especially if caused by arthritis. Massage can also help prevent joint pain by improving circulation around the area. Massaging with a topical menthol rub can also help ease the pain.
• Ice Therapy
The cold temperatures can help reduce blood flow in the affected joint, thereby reducing tissue swelling. Right after an injury, place an ice pack for about 20 minutes a few times a day to alleviate the pain or otherwise prevent pain.
A warm pack or a hot bath can help relax and ease joints and muscles to alleviate the pain, especially on the knees and hips. It helps stimulate blood flow in the area and can also help prevent chronic pain.
Getting adequate rest especial after exercise or strenuous physical activities can help alleviate joint pain. Rest helps restore energy and allows the body to repair and joints and their constituents.
Joint pain can be troublesome if not handled properly. Get immediate treatment once you experience pain and take the necessary measures to prevent it. Aim to keep your joints healthy by incorporating the above-mentioned tips and live a pain-free life.