Throbbing. Aching. Dull pain. Sharp pain. Whether you’ve had joint pain for one week or one decade, it’s dreadful. It affects your day-to-day activities. And as long as you have it, your quality of life seems to decline. Your routine changes, sometimes your hobbies change, and it just puts a wrench in your comfort.
If you can pinpoint the cause of the joint pain, it will be easier to treat it. Here are some things to know about joint pain and what you can do.
The anatomy of joint pain
A joint is where two or more bones come together. Your joints bear your weight and enable you to move.
As mentioned previously, you need to understand some key components of your joints.
Cartilage: this tissue covers the surface on the bone where it meets the joint. It helps reduce friction between the bone and joint.
Ligaments: ligaments are like elastic bands and help support the joint and keep it in place.
Tendons: a type of connective tissue, tendons connect to the muscle and control joint movement.
Bursa: these are sacs full of fluid that live between bone and muscle and help cushion your joints.
Synovial fluid: this fluid helps to lubricate the joints.
All of these parts work together to keep your joints healthy and functioning properly. If your joints are not properly supported, cushioned, or lubricated, problems arise.
Conditions that cause joint pain
Osteoarthritis (OA) is unfortunately pretty common. In 2013, one in five American adults reported having clinically diagnosed arthritis. And by 2030, 25% of the adult population is expected to develop arthritis. OA, also known as is the most common form of osteoarthritis. When you develop this disease, your bones begin to rub together causing discomfort, pain, and limited mobility.
OA is accompanied by many symptoms, including:
- Limited movement
- Swelling around the joint
- A clicking or cracking sound
- Pain that arises from activity or at the end of the day
- Impaired or loss of balance
If you have one or more of these symptoms, OA may be the root cause.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory disorder. RA affects the lining of your joints causing pain and swelling.
Common symptoms of RA include:
- Swollen joints
- Stiff joints
- Joint deformity
Unfortunately, RA can affect more than just your joints. It can affect
You have heard of gout before but did you know it was a form of arthritis? Gout commonly affects the joints found in your big toe—and it can be very painful. Gout is caused by uric acid crystals that form in the joint. This condition can cause
- Joint pain
People with gout often have flares so it is important to know what can trigger your gout.
This disease causes widespread muscle and joint pain. Fibromyalgia affects the way your brain processes pain, making pain worse than it should be. This disease can also cause sleep and mood issues.
Fibromyalgia can have many symptoms, including,
- Muscle spasms
- Chronic or severe pain
- Gastrointestinal problems such as nausea or constipation
- Cold sensitivity
Your joint pain could be caused by past or recent injury. If you sprained or strained a joint, you could experience some joint pain even after you have recovered. Symptoms of a sprain include:
- Loss of motion
- Tenderness and pain
Lifestyles that are prone to joint pain
If you look at the three lifestyles mentioned below, you might notice that these are pretty different lifestyles. Both athletic and sedentary lifestyles can cause some joint pain. It all comes down to how you take care of your joints, no matter what kind of lifestyle you have.
Athletes are rough on their joints. While our joints appreciate all the moving, it can also cause a lot of strain. Athletes’ joints are also more susceptible to injury. Whether you’re a runner or a swimmer or a soccer player, you need to take special care of your joints by giving your joints a chance to rest. Strengthening exercises are also a great way to support your joints. Don’t overdo it and listen to the pain!
What is now considered the new smoking? Sitting. And desk jobs are the biggest culprit. Studies now show that even exercising before or after long periods of sitting does not counteract the effects. Sitting can be stressful on your joints, especially your knees and back.
The best way to break up periods of sitting is to make sure you are standing up every hour. Here are some things you can do:
- Stand while talking on the phone or eating lunch.
- If you work at a desk for long periods of time, try a standing desk
- Ensure that your desk and computer are at the right height
- Make sure your back is well-supported by your chair and you’re able to stretch out your legs
- Try to take a walking/stretching break every 20 minutes. If that’s not possible, then at least once an hour
Manual labor careers
These careers include jobs ranging from agriculture to construction, such as painting, roofing, or architecture. This can also include jobs with repetitive motions like lifting or stocking heavy items. Such movements put strain on your joints. You might find yourself susceptible to an injury, such as a sprain.
Here are some ways to take care of your joints:
- Apply cold therapy for new pains and heat for old pains
- Talk to your doctor about pain medication
- Try an anti-inflammatory diet
- Try strength training and low impact exercises
Tips for reducing joint pain
Our joints need specific nutrition to function properly. There can be many reasons you experience joint pain and deterioration. Joint problems can start with overuse or be in your genetic makeup. However, joint issues can also be caused/worsened by inadequate nutrition. Your joints need many different nutrients to stay healthy. Here are just a few:
Glucosamine: Glucosamine is a building block of healthy cartilage. Glucosamine is considered a symptom-modifying nutrient delays related symptoms. These symptoms may include joint pain and limited joint function.
Chondroitin: Chondroitin is also an important part of cartilage. This nutrient can also help reduce joint pain. Chondroitin can also help reduce swelling and joint effusion. Your joints are surrounded by what is known as synovial fluid. This fluid helps keep your joints lubricated. When the levels of synovial fluid are higher than average, it causes inflammation and even infection.
Antioxidants: Free radicals are molecules that cause damage to neighboring cells. Without antioxidants, free radicals can severely damage your cartilage. With antioxidants like vitamin A, C, E and selenium, you can help prevent or reduce the cartilage damage.
Hyaluronic Acid: This nutrient helps maintain the mechanics of your joints. Without it, your joints will not function properly. It has also been shown to ease joint pain associated with osteoarthritis.
Bromelain: This nutrient is actually an enzyme derived from pineapple. This nutrient is an anti-inflammatory which means it can help reduce pain and swelling.
Some of these nutrients you can get from food but others will require supplementation. A quality (emphasis on quality) supplement is a great way to invest in your joint health.
Exercise is a necessary part of managing joint pain. In fact, It is considered the most effective non-drug treatment for arthritis. Regular exercise can help you:
- Manage your weight
- Strengthen your muscles
- Improve your range of motion and flexibility
- Reduce stress (which can cause unnecessary tension in your joints)
With specific exercises, you have the opportunity to improve your pain, stiffness, and inflammation. You might be tempted to avoid movement or exercise because of the pain. However, limiting your movement can cause a lot of problems. According to Harvard Heath, limiting your movement can
- Weaken your muscles
- Compound joint issues
- Affect your posture
Additional weight can put extra strain on your joints. Even losing a few pounds can help.
- Try taking an NSAID, like ibuprofen.
- Use heat and cold therapy.
- Get a massage.
- See a physical therapist.
- Get good rest and sleep.