If you suffer from joint pain, whether temporarily or permanently, you’ll know how this can affect your quality of life. Our joints connect our bones, support our bodies, and help us move. If our joints are damaged due to disease or injury, it interferes with our movement and causes pain.
According to a national survey, a third of all adults experience joint pains. Knee pain is the most common, followed by shoulder and hip pain, but any part of your body that houses joints can be affected. As we get older, our risk for developing joint pain increases along with its severity.
Causes of Joint Pain
There are two leading causes of joint pain: an injury affecting the ligaments, bursae, or tendons either surrounding or within the joint. Joint pain can be mild and go away within a few weeks (acute), or it can be a long-term or permanent condition (chronic).
The two most common chronic joint diseases are Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid arthritis:
- Osteoarthritis is caused by wear-and-tear around the joints from repetitive stress or excess weight. The cartilage between the bones wears down causing bone to grate on bone. The joint space becomes damaged in the process.
- Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory process. Our own immune system begins to attack our own joints by creating excess inflammation in the tissue that protects the joints. The inflammation eventually leads to the surrounding bones being damaged.
Other causes of joint pain include bursitis (a.k.a., inflammation in the bursa, the cushion around the joint), toxins collecting in the joint space (a.k.a., gout), strains/sprains of ligaments around the joints, or bone cancer.
Joint Pain Symptoms and Signs
Here is a list of symptoms that are associated with joint problems:
- Redness of the joint
- Swelling of the joint
- Joint tenderness
- Joint warmth
- Locking of the joint
- Loss of range of motion
- Stiffness in the joints
- Weakness in the joints
Joint Pain Treatments
Treatments are geared towards reducing pain, inflammation, and preserving joint function. The following joint pain remedies may help to alleviate the pain and improve your condition:
- Avoid repetitive stress of the joint. In acute cases one may need to temporarily refrain from using the joint so that the injury has time to heal.
- Apply ice packs or a pack of frozen peas to the joints for 15-20 minutes sessions multiple times per day.
- Soak your joints in a warm tub filled with 2 cups of Epsom salt and a pinch of baking soda for 15 minutes. If you can’t soak in a tub place your joints in a bowl filled with ½ cup Epsom salt and a pinch of baking soda.
- Take a warm shower to relax the muscles and increase blood circulation.
- Maintain a healthy weight relative to your height so excess pressure is relieved off of joints. For example, each extra 5 pounds you carry is 20 additional pounds placed on the knee. Just losing 5 to 10 lb can completely resolve many joint problems.
- Exercise regularly. Physical activity such is biking, walking, and swimming are essential to strengthen the muscles that support the joints as well as to lubricate the joints. However, if you suffer from knee joint pain, run on a soft surface such as grass. Exercise also helps control weight.
- An anti-inflammatory diet is central to decreasing joint pain. Drink turmeric and ginger tea throughout the day. Mix 2 cups of hot water with ½ teaspoon of ground ginger, ½ teaspoon of ground turmeric, and a some lemon. Sip this tea four times per day. Refrain from consuming sugar, artificial sweeteners, processed food, pre-packaged ready-made items, red meat, white rice, and bread. Limit your intake of wheat, soy, and corn. Eat mostly green vegetables, legumes, seeds, and whole grains like brown rice, millet, barley, amaranth, and buckwheat.
- A person who is weak and has trouble getting out of a chair may need to work with a physical therapist experienced in joint issues. The therapist can teach you proper techniques on how to correctly move and strengthen your body.
- Assistive devices, such as shoe inserts, canes, splints, and braces can help distribute your weight more equally and take the load off your joints. Always check with your doctor first before you get an assistive device.
- Magnesium relaxes the muscles and nerve endings, and relieves stiffness and pain. Take 300 to 600mg of Magnesium powder just before bedtime. Drink a fresh leafy green vegetable juice all morning long. Have small beans (i.e., lentils, split peas, and moong dal) instead of red meat or chicken. These are all great natural sources of obtaining Magnesium.
What if the Joint Pain Persists?
If your joint pain doesn’t go away and it’s extremely uncomfortable, swollen, red, and tender, it is time to see your doctor. If you had an injury which is accompanied by intense pain, swelling, joint deformation, or inability to use, you need to see a doctor immediately.
Joint pains are often treatable or at least manageable. There is no reason you should suffer unnecessarily. Dr. Payal Bhandari M.D. can help you create a customized treatment plan to alleviate your joint pain quickly and permanently.