Recent statistics demonstrate that joint pain is one of the most common ailments suffered by the American public. In fact, reports from recent years show that at least 14 million American adults suffer from some form of joint pain.
Unfortunately, joint pain can lead to many difficulties in the lives of those dealing with this condition. What causes joint pain and what treatment options are available for those dealing with this chronic issue? Are there any effective alternative remedies for dealing with joint pain? What is the current prognosis for patients with painful joint conditions? The information below was gathered to provide a more in-depth answer to these questions.
What Causes Joint Pain?
Joint pain is a complex issue that can have many different causes. For this reason, it may take a considerable amount of time before a patient fully understands the reason for their specific problem. The following conditions listed below can all lead to joint pain that is capable of becoming severe or disrupting an individual’s day to day life.
It has been estimated that there are well over 100 types of arthritis in existence. Most of the common types of arthritis can cause joint pain that can become quite severe. Osteoarthritis is probably the most common type of this disease that leads to joint pain. Many other types of arthritis can also affect the health of the joints as well. These include such types as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout.
Bursitis and Tendonitis
Bursitis and tendonitis are inflammatory conditions that can affect the joints. They often occur in athletes or other people who repeatedly put their joints under stress through repeated movement. Bursa are small fluid-filled sacs that reside within the joints. When these are aggravated by too much movement, they can become inflamed and painful. Tennis players and other athletes who make repetitive movements may experience these conditions frequently.
Fibromyalgia is a poorly understood disorder that results in pain, discomfort, and fatigue. A person with fibromyalgia may be more tired than usual and may suffer from unusual joint or muscle pain. These bothersome symptoms can lead to an impairment in day to day functioning.
Infection or Injury of the Bone
Bone infections and injuries can also result in pain within the joints. Injuries to the joints can occur from impact trauma or from repetitive movements associated with sports, hobbies, or a career that involves these types of movements.
Severe Cold or Flu
If you have ever experienced a severe case of the flu, you are likely aware of the painful and achy feeling that can occur in the joints as you fight the illness. This pain is temporary and is a direct response of your body attempting to fight off the virus.
It is important to keep in mind that this is not a comprehensive list of joint pain causes. However, this list contains some of the more commonly seen ailments that can result in joint pain, inflammation, and issues with proper movement.
Signs and Symptoms of Joint Pain
Aside from pain, common conditions that affect the health of the joints are normally accompanied by other symptoms as well. Below is a list of the most common symptoms that can accompany the joint issues leading to pain.
A certain degree of swelling can be normal when dealing with an injury to the joints. However, this swelling should pass relatively quickly. If you are experiencing persistent joint inflammation and have not recently suffered an injury, it would be wise to seek medical care.
Visibly Red or Warm Skin
Skin over the joints that is visibly red or warm to the touch can signify specific types of arthritis or a possible infection in the bones of the joint. It is important to see a physician if these symptoms continue.
Limited Range of Motion
Joint injuries can result in a limited range of motion during the process of healing. In these cases, resting the joint to allow healing to take place is important. However, range of motion issues can also signify potentially serious forms of arthritis.
If you know you have suffered a recent injury to the joints, see a doctor right away for advice on the best way to move forward and prevent future injuries.
Joints that Appear Deformed
Joints that appear deformed in some manner could potentially be a sign of a serious form of arthritis that requires prompt treatment. In other cases of deformed joints, there may be a broken bone or dislocation of the joint present.
It is important to remember that a serious problem can still exist even in the absence of these symptoms. Not all of these symptoms need to be present to indicate the existence of a problem and the need for prompt medical care.
Common Treatment Options for Joint Pain
Thankfully, there are a number of medical treatments that can address and alleviate joint pain for the majority of sufferers. Your doctor will attempt to discern the precise cause of your specific joint pain to better provide the best options for treatment. Even when the cause of the joint pain can be discerned, treatment possibilities may still largely be a case of trial and error. The following are common treatment options for joint pain.
For more mild or moderate joint pain, over-the-counter NSAIDs may be sufficient at providing relief. For patients experiencing more severe pain, prescription medications can be provided. The medications might include drugs known as cox-2 inhibitors. Muscle relaxants and even some anti-depressant medications can also be used to treat pain effectively in some cases.
Topical creams are pain-relieving medications that are rubbed into the skin over the affected joints. These products rely on a variety of substances that are then absorbed into the skin to provide temporary relief from bothersome pain.
In some cases, patients may be able to obtain joint injections from their doctor. These injections contain a variety of medications that help diminish swelling and pain. Excess fluid can also be removed from the joint at the same time. This often reduces discomfort and allows the joint to function better.
Your doctor may advise that you see a physical therapist for assistance with various exercises that can reduce pain and increase joint mobility. These exercises can be continued at home if they prove to be helpful.
Home Care Techniques
Home care techniques can involve periods of rest, wrapping the affected joint, avoiding repetitive movements, alternate ice and heat treatments, and other interventions designed to keep pain to a minimum.
Alternative Remedies for Joint Pain
Many people suffering from joint pain want relief without the bothersome side effects that can accompany some medications. For this reason, alternative remedies for joint pain appeal to many patients dealing with this issue. The following are some of the most common types of alternative remedies for joint discomfort.
The jury is still out on this alternative option, but some patients report a relief from pain when they go for acupuncture treatments. Initial studies into this ancient alternative therapy show that considerable relief may be possible for some.
Water reduces the strain felt on the body during exercise. Exercise is often highly encouraged for those suffering from joint pain, but it can be difficult for these individuals to engage in activity when it exacerbates pain. Water-based exercise may be the answer since much of the weight and pressure is taken off the joints due to the buoyancy of water.
While many question their efficacy, some joint pain sufferers have found relief in natural supplements as well. Turmeric is an herb used in cooking that has been shown to reduce swelling and relieve pain. Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are both compounds that are naturally found in healthy joints. Some studies indicate that taking these as supplements can reduce joint discomfort for some patients.
Prognosis for Joint Pain Sufferers
Many new treatments for joint pain are constantly in the works. Depending on the cause of the joint pain, biological therapies and treatments using a patient’s own stem cells are promising upcoming treatment options. Continued research needs to be completed to better provide patients with a multitude of treatment options down the line.
Joint pain is a chronic problem leading to a major disruption to the routine of daily life for millions of Americans. The information provided here can arm sufferers with the facts needed to better care for themselves and their loved ones suffering from this common ailment.