Joint pain is an incredibly common problem that affects thousands of people a year. This type of pain has a very high variability rate in terms of how it expresses itself and the degree of severity of pain. Below, we look at the causes and management of joint pain.
Just as numerous as the expressions of joint pain are its causes. There are many different sources for this type of discomfort. Fortunately, it can be successfully managed without too much hassle in most cases.
Causes and Management of Joint Pain
If you’re suffering from joint pain or would just like to stay informed about what it looks like just in case, here’s a primer that describes some of its sources and management.
The Causes of Joint Pain
Many of the causes of joint pain are chronic health conditions that arise for a variety of reasons. Some of the common ones include:
- Osteoarthritis: Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. It’s often referred to as a “wear and tear” disease that arises from compounded micro-injuries in the joints over the course of years.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis: Another type of arthritis that is slightly less common. Rheumatoid Arthritis is a type of arthritis that is an autoimmune disorder. In this condition, the body begins attacking its own tissues, leading to pain and discomfort.
- Gout: Gout is another form of arthritis that affects only the big toe of one’s body.
- Bursitis: Bursitis is a condition where the sacs of fluid that helps cushion your joints become inflamed.
- Strains, sprains, and injuries of use: Injuries incurred during sports, work, and the like can also lead to chronic joint pain.
During your medical consultation, your physician will observe your symptoms in order to make a call regarding what they believe to be the exact source of your joint pain. You’ll then proceed together to assess the best management plan for minimizing its impact.
There are several types of medications that can help with the management of joint pain. NSAIDS are a common choice, with examples including ibuprofen, naproxen, or aspirin.
Acetomenaphin is also an effective choice for some patients. Caution must be taken when taking this medication, as it can cause liver damage if one also regularly drinks alcohol.
Opioids and muscle relaxants are also options but will need to be prescribed by a medical professional due to the hazards associated with these drugs.
Several studies have found that Capsaicin, a substance found in chili peppers, may relieve joint pain. Capsaicin has the ability to inhibit the chemical processes that cause sensations of pain. Arthritis cream containing the ingredient known as methyl salicylate is also sometimes found to be useful.
If the aforementioned therapies don’t work for you, joint injections may be the most effective route forward for you to resolve your joint pain. Some examples of these injections include:
- Platelet-rich Plasma Therapy
Working with a physical therapist to strengthen the muscles around your joints, stabilize the joints, and improve your range of motion can be an effective form of treatment. Oftentimes, these medical professionals will use ultrasound, heat or cold therapy, nerve stimulation, and manipulation.
Sometimes, something as simple as regular exercise can be the best path forward for managing pain. The endorphins and the like released during exercise can be powerful pain relievers in their own right.
Another effective path for managing one’s pain is through home care. This may not be enough to completely solve your problem, but it can at least offer temporary relief. Some of the following methods include:
- Protecting the joint with a brace or wrap
- Icing the joint for about 15 minutes for several minutes each day
- Compressing the joint with an elastic wrap
- Elevating the joint above the level of your heart
- Getting plenty of rest to allow your joints time to recuperate from stress
As simple as it sounds, ice has proven to be an effective pain reliever for many people with chronic joint pain. For muscle spasms around the joints, using a heating pad or wrap several times a day can also offer temporary relief. These methods will likely not solve one’s joint pain if they are suffering from more severe chronic joint pain that requires more intensive methods.
Orange County’s Center for Joint Pain
OC Pain is Southern California’s lead center for the management of joint pain and other types of chronic issues. If some of these problems beset you, contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our pain clinic in Orange County.