Joint pain is one of the more common types of pain for adults, and there are a wide variety of medical issues that can cause it. These include injury, but can also include more chronic conditions such as arthritis, which affects about 15 million Americans. Joint pain can occur in anywhere in the body where two or more bones meet—hands, shoulders, neck, feet, hips, elbows, and back.
What exactly do we mean by joint pain? Typically, when we talk about joint paint, we’re talking about any type of ache or soreness, or even discomfort. Joints might be swollen or tender, and can even turn your skin red around the affected area. Some patients also describe an unpleasant warmness in their affected joint. In some of the worse cases, the joint is rendered completely immobile, making the patient’s quality of life quite unbearable.
Going through life without any type of joint pain is common, but when the pain becomes chronic and unbearable, a doctor might prescribe medication, physical or occupational therapy, or a combination of all three. That said, there are some things any patient can do at home to help manage the pain. Here are our top tips for managing joint pain.
Stay Physically Active
Although joint pain is often related to bone conditions (such as arthritis), keeping the muscles that support the joint is an essential component to managing the pain. While it’s tempting to let the pain prevent a patient from getting enough physical activity, being less active can actually increase the pain in the long run.
That’s why it’s important to stay physically active. Depending on where your joint pain is, your doctor may recommend you do certain types of physical activities over others. For example, patients with osteoarthritis in their back should typically do exercises that keep their spinal column in a neutral position, such as swimming.
Just remember: If you don’t use it, you lose it!
While arthritis, particularly osteoarthritis, is common in people over 40, it is exacerbated when a patient is overweight or obese. Being overweight puts significant stress on your joints, and can cause them to deteriorate at a faster rate. If you fall into this category and are experiencing joint pain, losing some weight can dramatically reduce the amount of pain you experience on a regular basis. Ideally, this should be done through a combination of increased physical activity, muscle development/strength training, and proper diet. Just remember: It’s best to consult with a doctor before attempting any new weight loss programs or diets to make sure it’s a good match for your body type and lifestyle.
Over the Counter Anti-inflammatories
It’s common for patients suffering from joint pain to take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naproxen. While these are any easy, quick fix, they should generally be used sparingly, as long-term usage can have negative effects on your health, including stomach ulcers, gastrointestinal bleeding, and increased risk for stroke, heart attack, and blood clots.