Pain in the joints is a common phenomenon. What can you do about it, how can you act? This article describes 5 ideas for joint pain.
Climbing stairs, carrying a heavy shopping basket, cleaning, handicrafts, all these activities strain the joints. Day after day, people strain their joints and demand maximum performance from them. If there are also unfamiliar activities, such as sports, it is not far to the first joint pain due to overstraining.
Joints form the connections between the bones. They support and help you with your move. Any damage to joints from disease or injury can disrupt your movement and cause severe pain.
Many different conditions can lead to painful joints, including arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, bursitis, gout, strains, sprains and other injuries. Joint pain is very common. In a national survey, about a third of adults reported joint pain within the last 30 days. Knee pain was the most common complaint followed by shoulder and hip pain, but joint pain can affect any part of your body, from your ankles and feet to your shoulders and hands. Painful joints become more and more frequent with increasing age.
Joint pain can range from mildly irritating to paralyzing. It can disappear after a few weeks (acute) or last several weeks or months (chronic). Short-term pain and swelling in the joints can also affect your quality of life. Regardless of the cause of joint pain, you can usually do it with medication, physiotherapy or alternative treatments.
Your doctor will first try to diagnose and treat the condition that is causing your joint pain. The aim is to relieve pain and inflammation and to maintain joint function.
The treatment options include:
- Local anesthetics
- Physiotherapy for joint pain
- Home care
Pain therapy is to be applied comprehensively and regularly. In addition to pain-relieving medication, heat therapy and special physiotherapy and muscle building training are the most frequent long-term therapies. These therapies can only be successful in the long term if they are used regularly.
For moderate to severe joint pain with swelling, an over-the-counter, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as asphirine, ibuprofen (advil, motrin) or naproxen sodium (aleve) can provide relief. A newer generation of NSAIDs known as cox-2 inhibitors (celcoxib) is also good for pain relief, but all but one of these drugs (celebrex) have been withdrawn from the market due to an increased risk of heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular events. NSAIDs can also have side effects that can increase your risk of gastrointestinal bleeding.
If you have milder pain without swelling, acetaminophen (tylenol) may be effective. Be careful when taking this medicine, especially if you drink alcohol as high doses can cause liver damage. Because of the risks, you should take these painkillers with caution.
If your pain is so severe that NSAIDs and Cox-2 medications are not effective enough, your doctor may prescribe a stronger opioid drug. Since opioid drugs can cause drowsiness, you should take them only under medical supervision. They can also cause constipation, which you can relieve by taking laxatives.
- Other drugs that can help relieve pain are:
Muscle relaxants for the treatment of muscle cramps (may be used with NSAIDs to increase the effect)
some antidepressants and antiepileptics (both of which interfere with pain signals)
Capsaicin — a substance found in chili pepper — can relieve joint pain from arthritis and other conditions. Capsaicin blocks substance P, which helps to transmit pain signals, and it triggers the release of chemicals in the body called endorphins that block pain. Side effects of capsaicin cream are burning or stinging in the area of application. Another current option is an arthritis cream with the ingredient methyl salicylate (Ben Gay).
Injections – For people who cannot find relief of joint pain from oral or topical medication, the doctor can inject a steroid drug (which can be combined with a local anaesthetic) directly into the joint every three to four months. Steroid injections are most commonly used in patients with arthritis, joint disease or tendinitis. The procedure is effective, but in most cases the effect is temporary. It can also have side effects; if steroid injections mask an injury, you can overstrain the joint and further damage it.
Other injection options are:
Removal of fluid from the joint (often in conjunction with steroid injection) – Injections of hyaluronic acid, a synthetic version of the natural synovial fluid. This is used to treat osteoarthritis
Physiotherapy for joint pain
You can work with a physiotherapist to strengthen the muscles around the joint, stabilize the joint and improve your range of motion. The therapist uses techniques such as ultrasound, heat or cold therapy, electrical nerve stimulation and manipulation.
If you are overweight, losing weight can relieve some of the pressure on your painful joints. Exercise is an effective way to lose weight (along with diet), but be careful with low-impact exercises that do not irritate the joint further. Swimming and cycling are among the best exercises, because both allow you to train your joints without stressing them. Because the water floats, swimming also relieves the joints.
They can relieve short-term joint pain at home with a few simple techniques. One method is known under the acronym PRICE:
- Protect the joint with braces or a wrap.
- Rest the joint and avoid all activities that cause you to do so.
Causes of joint pain
No age group is particularly specified, everyone can suffer from joint pain. Certainly, the elderly are more affected by arthritis than young people by the aging process. Nevertheless, many joint complaints are also present in young years. This can happen already during the growth phase if leg shortening, foot malpositions etc. were not noticed and corrected in time. A leg shortening of a few centimetres can lead to considerable pain in hip joints and especially in the spine in later years. Excessive exercise and incorrect use of muscles can cause joint pain. Also with Sport movement sequences must be exercised effectively and sensibly, otherwise they do more harm than good. Finally, the muscles should stabilize the joints and thus protect them.
When can joint pain be taken seriously?
The orthopedist knows up to 400 different causes that lead to joint pain. Chronic joint pain is colloquially called “rheumatism”. However, this term does not stand for a specified disease, but comprises about 100 individual diseases as a collective term. Another common disease is arthritis, a multifactorial disease. The conditions for arthrosis can also be inherited. This is a chronic inflammation of the joints, which mainly occurs in the wrists and ankles and in the spine. If you frequently suffer from joint pain, which recurs daily and is only partially relieved by painkillers, you should take joint pain very seriously and see a doctor in good time.