Joint Pain Relief
Looking for joint pain relief? Joint pain is common among adults and can include aches and soreness in areas where your bones meet. Pain in the joints occurs when damage (injury) or disease affects the connections between bones. Tissues of the joint that cause pain include cartilage, bone, ligaments, muscles and tendons.
A number of common conditions are associated with joint pain, such as arthritis (inflammation or pain in the joint itself), infection, diseases and injuries to the joint area. Your knees, shoulders, and hips are among the most common body areas to be affected by joint issues. Older adults suffer from joint pain more frequently than younger people.
Virtually any joint in the body can be affected by pain. Levels of discomfort vary from mild and short-term (acute) to debilitating and chronic. Joint pain has the potential to negatively affect a person’s quality of life. A patient may experience pain in one or more joints of the body. Fortunately, there are many treatment options to manage joint pain.
What are the best treatments for joint pain? Depending on the cause of your pain, joint pain treatment options may include:
- Medications such as NSAIDs (aspirin or ibuprofen)
- Muscle relaxants and other prescription medications
- Topical agents (creams)
- Injections such as steroid medications, synthetic joint fluids and/or removing excess fluid from the joint
- Physical therapy (can include exercises, losing weight, heat and cold therapy, electrical nerve stimulation, improvements in posture)
- Alternative treatments including supplements, acupuncture, chiropractic adjustments and/or yoga
The first step in treating your joint pain is to get an accurate diagnosis of the cause of your symptoms. Based on your diagnosis, you and your doctor can determine your best treatment options.
At The Pain Center, we can help diagnose your pain, and we offer a range of therapies to treat your pain. Our goal is to get you back to your normal activities. Contact us to meet with one of our joint pain specialists.
Causes of Joint Pain
What causes joint pain and how can you find pain relief? The answer depends on the underlying cause of your pain.
Some conditions that cause joint pain include:
- Dislocation, broken bone, strains, sprains, or other injury or trauma
- Lupus or other autoimmune disorders (e.g. rheumatoid arthritis)
- Diseases such as Lyme disease
- Some sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia and gonorrhea
Diet, use of alcohol, dehydration and taking certain medications can worsen joint pain or trigger an attack of gout. Being overweight can also contribute to joint pain due to the extra stress on the affected joints.
Joint Pain Symptoms and Diagnosis
As with all pain issues, be sure to discuss all your symptoms with your doctor. It is particularly important to see your doctor if your joint pain is accompanied with swelling, redness or warmth around the joint. It is more urgent to see your doctor if you see any joint deformity, cannot use your joint, or are experiencing a sudden or intense pain with or without swelling.
Symptoms of joint pain can include:
- Joint pain, stiffness and weakness
- Redness, tenderness and swelling of the joint
- Reduced range of motion in the affected joint
- Change in how you walk or move due to pain (limping)
- Locking up of the joint
- Muscle cramps
To diagnose the cause of your pain, your doctor will ask you questions about your health and family history, and will do a physical examination. Other tests that can help diagnose the source of your pain include X-rays, MRI scan, CT scan and blood tests. It is important that your condition is properly diagnosed so that you can receive the most effective and appropriate treatment.
How to Treat Joint Pain
Your treatment options will depend on the underlying cause and severity of your pain. Many causes of joint pain resolve with minimal or no treatment, or respond well to basic home-care. Treatments for joint pain can range from simple lifestyle modifications and home care, to prescription medications, injections, physical therapy and other medical treatments.
Adequate hydration and dietary modifications can also help reduce joint pain. Exercise, weight loss in overweight patients, bandaging, rest of the affected joint(s) and chiropractic treatments can also be beneficial.
For mild joint pain relief, you may choose to start with home treatments, such as:
- Over-the-counter pain relievers
- Allowing your joint to rest by using it less whenever possible
- Applying cold packs to the joint
- Using heating pads or taking a warm bath or shower
- Use a brace or wrap to compress the joint and protect the joint area
- Elevation of the joint above heart-level
Over-the-counter aspirin, acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be effective for certain types of joint pain when taken according to instructions.
Some of the medical therapies we provide for joint pain at The Pain Center include:
Medication management involves the pain specialist prescribes and regulates the medication that you use to help control your joint pain. The pain management specialist will provide you with the knowledge you need to take your pain medications properly.
The Pain Center takes a conservative approach with medication management and we limit prescription medications to help avoid dependence and unwanted side effects.
One option for treating joint pain is to inject dexamethasone, a steroid that helps reduce pain and inflammation. This can be very effective for arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Joint injections can also be used to remove extra fluid from joints affected by arthritis and other painful joint conditions.
Neuromodulation treatments use low-voltage electrical pulses to block the sensation of pain.
When Further Joint Pain Treatment is Required
Based on the underlying condition, further treatments may be required. If there is something that can be addressed by another type of specialist, we will refer you to the appropriate specialty doctor.
Commonly Asked Questions about Joint Pain
What is rheumatoid arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic, autoimmune disease that affects the soft tissues in the joints. It can be a disabling and chronic condition, causing pain and disability. Rheumatoid arthritis commonly affects women more than men.
What is osteoarthritis and how common is it?
A degenerative joint disease, osteoarthritis primarily affects cartilage tissues. This condition is associated with aging, and particularly affects the knees, hips, fingers and spine. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), osteoarthritis is one of the ten most disabling diseases in developed countries. WHO estimates indicate that in adults over the age of 60, 9.6% of men and 18% of women have symptoms of osteoarthritis.
What usually causes joint injury?
According to the World Health Organization, joint injury is most frequently caused by falls, followed by car accidents and machinery/ tool use. In the elderly population, falls are the biggest risk.
Why do I have pain in my lower back?
Pain in the joints between the vertebrae in the lower back can be caused by conditions such as injury, inflammation, diseases and infection. Other causes include carrying additional weight or being in the later stages of a pregnancy. Running on hard surfaces, heavy lifting and sitting for long periods of time can make lower back pain worse.
Most people suffer from low back pain at some time in their life. In as many as 80% of cases however, no specific cause of lower back pain can be found. With treatment, most people with lower back pain experience some relief. (Bulletin of the World Health Organization 2003, 81 (9), “Low back pain” by George E. Ehrlich).
How can the cause of my joint pain be diagnosed?
The best place to start in determining the cause of your joint pain is by seeing your primary care physician. The Pain Center can also help you in the diagnosis and treatment of your pain, or refer you to a specialist to help with diagnosis.
Are there any alternative therapies for treating joint pain?
There are a number of alternative therapies you can use to help with joint pain, such as dietary supplements, acupuncture, chiropractic adjustments and yoga. In addition, there are home remedies you can readily use, such as over-the-counter pain relievers (use as directed), joint rest, cold or hot packs, braces or wraps, and elevation of the joint above heart-level.
What causes joint pain?
Joint pain may be caused by a number of underlying conditions. It is important that you and your doctor determine the cause of your joint pain in order to properly treat your condition. In the elderly, joint pain can be caused by aging and can be progressive in nature. In most cases, therapeutic treatment options are available to help reduce the severity of pain and other symptoms. In some cases, joint pain is short-term and can resolve on its own with basic home treatment such as cold or hot compresses and elevation of the affected joint.