Joint pain or arthralgia is mild or severe discomfort, soreness, or inflammation felt in any joint of the body, including shoulders, elbows, hips, and knees. A person may also experience pain in multiple joints of the body at a time, also known as polyarthralgia.
Since joints are responsible for your limbs’ movement, joint pain can be a hindrance in your daily life. If the pain is severe, it can leave the joint extremely tender and limit your movement.
This post discusses everything you need to know about joint pain, from effective pain management to future pain prevention.
What Causes Joint Pain
Joint pain is discomfort or soreness felt in different joints of the body. It usually goes away after a week, but it can last for several weeks to months.
Many people experience joint pain due to arthritis which is marked by inflammation in the joints. Here’s more:
Study shows that every one in four adults in the UK has arthritis and every fourth person with arthritis reports severe joint pain.
Arthritis refers to the swelling or tenderness of joints that causes soreness. Out of more than 100 types, the two main types of arthritis are osteoarthritis or OA and rheumatoid arthritis or RA.
Osteoarthritis is the wear and tear of joint cartilage that cushions the ends of your bones. This type of arthritis usually affects the joints in the hands, knees, hips, and spine as you age.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a disorder that affects the lining of the joint capsule, resulting in inflammation and swelling. This disorder eventually deforms the joints and requires medical attention.
Other Causes of Joint Pain
Some other causes of joint pain include (but are not limited to):
- Overuse of a particular joint
- Infectious diseases, such as flu and hepatitis
- An injury
- Bursitis – a condition that affects the cushioning pads found around the joints
- Lupus – a chronic condition that can cause joint pain, inflammation, and tiredness throughout the body
- Fibromyalgia – a chronic disorder that affects bones and muscles
- Tendinitis – inflammation of a tendon
- Rickets – a skeletal disorder caused by a nutrient deficit
- Cancer – joint pain can occur as a side effect of cancer or its treatment
Home Remedies for Effective Pain Management
Joint pain is a common occurrence in adults and ranges from mildly irritating to severe throbbing. How to manage pain depends on the cause behind the pain you are experiencing.
There are many at-home joint pain remedies that you can try to reduce inflammation and swelling. Here are some ways for effective pain management at home.
Heat treatment is a natural way to reduce joint stiffness and calm the muscles around it. Apply a heating pad to the affected area for 15 minutes or more, several times throughout the day.
At night, you can use an electric heated blanket or a heating pad for effective pain management. A hot shower or bath in the morning can help with morning stiffness and reduce cramps.
Cold treatment can help relieve inflammation and redness in the affected area. Apply ice to the joint for 15-20 minutes, at least five times a day. If you are using a cold pack, wrap it in a towel to protect your skin.
Rest and Compress
Resting is a good idea for paining joints so you focus on reducing pain and inflammation. As soon as the pain lessens, you can start moving that part of your body to strengthen it.
Wrapping the affected area with an elastic wrap also helps support and rest the joint. In addition to that, keep that body part elevated, preferably above your heart level, to decrease any swelling and pain.
Take a Pain Reliever
It is common to take OTC pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil and others) for quick joint pain relief. You can apply pain relief creams and gels for short-term relief.
How to Control Joint Pain
Apart from at-home joint pain remedies, you can learn how to control pain before it flares up and interferes with your daily life.
Here are three tips on how to manage pain and prevent it in the long term.
If your affected joints have to bear your body weight, losing a few pounds will lessen the pressure on swollen joints like your knees and hips. Moreover, when you lose body fat, it results in lesser hormones that will cause inflammation in your joints.
A controlled diet will help with weight loss and lessen the inflammation that is causing pain. For a healthy diet, incorporate healthy foods in your meals such as:
- Lean proteins
- Colorful fruits – blueberries, apples, pineapples
- Whole grains – white bread, white rice
- Low-fat dairy
- Nuts – walnuts, almonds, chia seeds
Apart from that, consuming fatty fish such as salmon and tuna can help with joint pain by fighting inflammation.
Exercise is a crucial part of any weight loss program, and it has its own benefits too. Staying active, stretching, and keeping your joints in motion can lessen pain and strengthen muscles, tendons, and ligaments around it.
Keeping your joint in a good range of motion is also helpful for the cartilage. Any kind of aerobic exercise like walking or biking will increase your stamina, so you can work more towards stabilizing the muscles around your joints.
If you cannot exercise every day, aim for a half-hour of simple exercises at least three days a week. Any movement of the joints will help in increasing your range of motion and reduce pain.
When to Visit a Doctor for Joint Pain
It is important to visit your doctor if any of the following symptoms accompany your joint pain:
- Redness in the area
- Tenderness of the joint
- Warmth around the area
You need to seek immediate attention when:
- Joint pain follows a serious injury
- Joint appears deformed
- You are unable to move the joint
- You experience intense pain
Experiencing mild pain in the joints is common and can be managed with at-home joint pain remedies. If your pain is not caused by arthritis, you can take a pain reliever, take a warm bath, stretch, and rest to lessen the pain.
If the joint pain is severe, occurs after an injury, or doesn’t go away in a few days, it is best to seek medical assistance and learn how to control pain in your case. Early diagnosis will help with pain management and effective treatment of the primary cause.