We often don’t give much thought to our joints until they start hurting. But joints are incredibly important to our overall health and quality of life.
Joints form the connections between your bones and help to support your movements. When they become damaged or diseased, movement becomes limited and even painful.
A Common Condition
If you suffer from joint pain, you are definitely not alone. In one national survey, one-third of adults reported they had joint pain within the last 30 days. Knee pain was the most common complaint, followed by shoulder and hip pain. But you may experience joint pain just about anywhere in your body like wrists, ankles and hands.
When it comes to joint pain, there really is no set of rules. Some people experience debilitating pain while others have mildly irritating pain. You may notice your pain goes away after a week or two, or it may last for months.
What Causes Joint Pain?
There are numerous causes of joint pain, but the most common cause is arthritis. There are two main types of arthritis: osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
According to the American College of Rheumatology, OA is most common in adults over the age of 40. It progresses slowly and tends to affect commonly used joints like the wrists, hands, hips and knees.
With OA, there is a breakdown of the cartilage that serves as a cushion and shock absorber. When this happens, bones are allowed to bump together during movement and the result is pain and inflammation.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, RA affects about 1.5 million Americans. It typically affects women more than men and can deform and debilitate the joints over time. RA causes the body’s immune system to attack the membrane that lines the joints. This, in turn, causes pain, inflammation, and fluid buildup in the joints.
While the number one cause of joint pain is arthritis, there are quite a few other causes, including:
- bursitis, or inflammation of the cushioning pads around joints
- certain infectious diseases, such as mumps, influenza, and hepatitis
- chondromalacia of the patella, or a breakdown of the cartilage in the kneecap
- an injury
- tendinitis, or inflammation of the tendon
- an infection of the bone
- overuse of a joint
How Is Joint Pain Diagnosed?
The first and obvious answer to this question is, you feel it. When your joints begin to hurt and/or become swollen, you can be certain something is going on. Once you begin to experience joint pain, it’s important that you make an appointment to see your doctor. They will likely perform a physical exam as well as ask you a series of specific questions so they can pinpoint the cause of your joint pain.
They may also order an X-ray to identify any arthritis-related joint damage. Should your physician suspect there is another cause of your joint pain besides arthritis, they may want to run some blood tests to screen for other causes such as autoimmune disorders.
Common Treatments for Joint Pain
Once your doctor has determined the particular cause of your joint pain, they will most likely recommend one or several common courses of treatment.
Topical Pain Relivers
Your doctor may suggest you use topical pain relievers or take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory over-the-counter pain relievers to reduce pain and swelling.
Though it may seem counterintuitive to be active when you are in physical pain, exercise is one of the best ways to eliminate inflammation and keep your joints flexible. Don’t forget to stretch lightly before and after exercising to maintain a good range of motion.
Extra weight on your body means extra work for your joints, particularly knee, ankle and hip joints. Keeping your body weight within a healthy range will lessen the stress on your joints.
Depending on the severity of your joint condition, your doctor may suggest you have joint replacement surgery. They may feel surgery is not necessary but require you to have fluid drawn from the affected area.
Perhaps the most common treatment recommended by medical doctors is prescription medications like Celebrex. Unfortunately, many nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), whether over-the-counter or prescription, come with numerous side effects. In fact, the FDA has increased its warnings for NSAIDs, citing many increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. The may also increase your risk for gastrointestinal bleeding.
While we whole-heartedly recommend natural courses of treatment such as exercise and stretching, we believe just as intently that dangerous medications are NOT the right way to treat joint pain. Medications simply mask the symptoms (the pain) but they do NOT get to the source of the problem.
But there is a natural way you can get rid of joint pain once and for all.
Would you like to learn how one doctor did just that for himself and his patients?