Your body contains between 250 and 350 joints.
Each of these has different degrees of movement, but all are vulnerable to joint pain.
If pain has you tied up in knots, get in touch with The Pain Experts of Arizona. We can help you get back to pain-free living! Continue reading to learn more about this condition.
Joint pain, also known as arthralgia, is pain that involves a joint and its surrounding ligaments, tendons, bursae, bones, or cartilage.
It can be caused by injury, inflammation, infection, or cancer. Most people experience joint pain in the following areas:
- Fringers and toes
1. Lifestyle changes
Lifestyle changes include improving your diet and incorporating more exercise into your daily routine. People with a high body-mass index tend to have more joint pain due to excessive stress on the joints. Maintaining a healthy body weight can relieve some of this pressure and have profound pain-relieving effects. Further, a diet high in healthy whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and anti-inflammatory foods is good for both joints and overall health. Exercise also keeps fluid moving in the joints and can even increase joint lubrication for easier movement and improved range of motion.
2. Supplements and herbal remedies
Fish oil is one joint pain supplement with good support in research. Fish oil, with its healthy omega-3 fatty acids, reduces joint pain and the progression of rheumatoid arthritis without side effects. Another study in 2020 showed that fish oil reduced the pain of osteoarthritis in obese patients and improved study participants’ quality of life.
Several herbal remedies also show promise in the treatment of joint pain and inflammation, too. Curcumin appears to help relieve arthritis pain, and eucalyptus reduces two specific inflammatory enzymes that help calm inflammation in the joints.
3. Comfort measures
Using hot or cold packs can ease joint pain when it flares up. In general, use heat to reduce tension in muscles that limits mobility and cold to soothe inflammation. If joints are stiff and achy, a warm bath with Epsom salts helps deliver transdermal magnesium to help with sleep (and over 300 other processes in the body!). Rest when you need to but remember that too much rest can increase stiffness in the joints.
4. Slow, gentle exercise
Because joints need to move to stay healthy (but quick movement can be too painful or impossible), slow, gentle exercise like yoga or tai chi can make all the difference for those with joint pain. Not only do these meditative practices help build strength, improve balance, and move your whole body in a low-stress way, but they also help you better deal with chronic pain.
5. Over-the-counter (OTC) medications
Often, OTC pain relievers are the only thing you need to relieve mild joint pain and inflammation. Taken as directed, ibuprofen and aspirin can help you find comfort and ease in your daily life.
6. Prescription medications
If you’re suffering from severe pain that impacts your overall quality of life, your doctor may prescribe stronger medications. These may include:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- Muscle relaxants
- These medications can help relieve pain when OTC treatments are ineffective.
7. Joint injections
Joint injections generally consist of an anesthetic and a steroid. These medications relieve pain and inflammation. Many people find long-lasting relief with this minimally invasive procedure, but their use is restricted to no more than four injections per year.
For some types of joint pain that are accompanied by joint deterioration, surgery may be an option. When conservative treatments have not worked, your doctor may suggest a variety of options to surgically treat joint pain in the knees, hips, hands, and shoulders.
Joint pain symptoms are easy to recognize. They usually begin with any type of aching or sharp pain in the joint. You may experience an increase in pain with certain movements, more pain in the morning or after periods of inactivity, or a constant low hum of discomfort. Other joint pain symptoms include:
- Joint issues (redness, swelling, tenderness, or warmth)
- Locking of the joint
- Decrease in joint’s range of motion
It’s best to address joint pain symptoms as soon as they arise. Lack of treatment can lead to further deterioration in the joint.
Treating joint pain begins with a diagnosis of the underlying cause of your pain.
Your doctor will start with a family medical history to uncover potentially inherited conditions. After, they’ll conduct a physical examination. In the physical exam, your doctor checks the painful joint for outward signs of disease. They will also put your joint through its range of motion to see where it has been restricted. If these tests are not sufficient to get an accurate diagnosis, your doctor may order other diagnostic tests. These can include:
- Imaging tests (e.g., MRI, X-ray, and CT scan)
- Nerve tests
- Blood, fluid, and tissue tests
These additional tests can rule out other conditions and identify more serious causes of joint pain. With this information, your doctor can develop a diagnosis of what’s causing your pain and find treatments that can help.
Five of the most common types of joint pain are directly related to arthritis. In general, these are the most common issues causing your pain:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Psoriatic arthritis
- Previous unresolved injuries
- Tendon injuries
There are two joint pain causes that account for the vast majority of any kind of pain across the globe: osteoarthritis and injury.
Osteoarthritis is a wear-and-tear condition that occurs naturally as we age. Everyone in the world is susceptible to the pain of getting older! Staying active and eating a healthy diet provide some protection to our joints, but at some point, we may all feel a little creaky in our joints. Similarly, an injury from falling or other trauma is another leading cause of joint pain. Car accidents, trip-and-fall injuries, and accidents on the job may cause many types of joint pain, including hip, shoulder, wrist, and ankle joint pain. Other joint pain causes (and factors contributing to joint pain) include:
- Fringers and toes
The most common cause of joint pain (inflammation) affects approximately 30% of the adult population in the U.S. annually. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that about 15 million adults are afflicted with severe joint pain from advanced cases of arthritis.