Multiple joints hold our skeletal system to help us move and perform even trivial activities like holding a pencil. We have different types of joints for supporting better movement and flexibility. You can sense their functionality where two or more bones meet. For example, your joints help move your knuckles, knees, hips, elbows, spine, and shoulder. In addition, they stabilise your body and bear body weight. Ultimately, without joints, you’ll be stiff as cardboard. Any pain or discomfort in the joints disturbs you throughout the day.
Joint pain may come and go, but it restricts the ability to perform basic tasks. Several factors may cause joint pain. They may resolve without any long-term complications. However, it is always beneficial to address them to delay the onset of joint pain. The frequency and occurrence of joint pain partly depend on your age. With a few healthy habits, you can protect the joints as you age.
What is Joint Pain?
Joint pain refers to the discomfort in the joints, making them feel sore, achy, or stiff. It is medically known as arthralgia. Joint pain results in a limited range of motion in your joints. The condition may affect just one joint or sometimes multiple joints. It starts from a mild to severe range and may worsen over time. The severity of joint pain depends on the underlying cause.
You should not confuse joint pain with arthritis because they are different. The former refers to pain in the joint, while the latter is the medical term for joint inflammation. Moreover, joint pain is a symptom of arthritis. However, both these terms are intertwined and often used interchangeably. Arthritis may cause joint pain. However, it isn’t the only factor.
Symptoms of Joint Pain
Joint pain itself is a symptom of certain underlying medical conditions. Nonetheless, you’re likely to experience the following symptoms along with joint pain.
- Joint weakness
- Joint stiffness
- Tenderness around the joint
- Decreased range of motion of the joint
- Locking of the joint
- Muscle cramps
- Slight fever
- The area around the joint becomes warm to touch
Joint Pain: Possible Causes
Gout is a severe condition that affects one joint at a time. It occurs due to the buildup of uric acid crystals in the joints. It leads to inflammation, swelling, and intense joint pain. Gout-related joint pain is common among older adults and rarely affects children. It usually occurs in big toe joints, knee joints, and ankle joints. If not treated, gout may lead to permanent joint damage.
Rickets results from inadequate vitamin D. It makes the bone weaker and softer. It is the most common cause of joint pain in children. Swelling and pain are commonly present in the joints of ankles and wrists. Joint pain does not occur in the early stages. However, the pain starts as the condition progresses.
Our body has more than 150 fluid-filled sacs called bursae near the joints. They act as a cushion between the muscles, tendons, and bones. When these bursae become inflamed, they cause joint pain. In addition, overuse or frequent repetitive motion of the joints triggers bursitis. Joint pain from bursitis most commonly occurs in the ankles, shoulders, elbow, thighs, and buttocks.
Osteoarthritis is one of the primary reasons for joint pain. It can affect any joint in your body. As the condition becomes more advanced, the joint pain becomes more intense. Osteoarthritis arises from joint damage. Being overweight, obese, and old makes you more prone to suffer osteoarthritis and associated joint pain.
5. Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis causes chronic joint pain. It significantly affects the joints in your feet and hands. It is an autoimmune condition where your immune system attacks your body’s healthy cells. The affected or damaged joint lining leads to joint pain. Initially, rheumatoid arthritis causes pain in the smaller joints. Then, it gradually spreads to the joints of the shoulder, hips, and elbows.
6. Viral Infections
Infectious diseases like hepatitis, influenza and mumps make joint movement painful. Here, joint pain accompanies stiffness and swelling. It affects the joints of ankles, knees, wrists, toes, and hands. Joint pain from viral infections usually lasts for a week or less.
Injuries such as strain and sprain often lead to joint pain. Sometimes, joint pain may also result from injured cartilage or torn ligament. In addition, severe falls on a hard surface, injury from heavy physical activities, or accidents are some cases that trigger joint pain.
Tendinitis results from an inflamed or irritated tendon, eventually causing pain in its associated joints. As a result, you may develop joint pain in the wrist, heel, elbows, knee, or shoulder. If you suffer exposure to continuous physical exertion and repetitive motion, the risk of tendinitis increases. It, in turn, makes you more likely to have joint pain.
Top Six Foods to Eat if You Have Joint Pain
Regardless of high sugar content, the antioxidants in fruits help reduce joint inflammation. In addition, it helps to significantly lower joint pain. For example, pineapples are rich in bromelain, a nutrient that reduces joint pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. For example, a study shows that eating grapes regularly may help relieve knee joint pain.
Fatty fish is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids that help fight inflammatory proteins in the body. As a result, it reduces joint pain intensity and improves vitamin D levels in your body. In addition, it reduces other symptoms associated with joint pain. Eating two servings of fatty fish per week is sufficient to reap its health benefits.
If you’re a vegan or vegetarian, adding fatty fish to the diet is out of the question. Instead, you can snack on nuts such as walnuts, pistachio, pecans, peanuts, almonds, and hazelnuts to ensure a steady supply of omega-3 fatty acids. In addition to omega-3, the vitamin E, zinc, and magnesium in nuts help prevent joint pain. Nuts are critical to older adults with rheumatoid arthritis because the heart-healthy fats reduce heart disease and joint pain risk.
Berries help fight joint pain and related inflammation because they have excellent anti-inflammatory properties. As per survey studies, berries such as strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries may help you relieve joint pain. You can add them to your breakfast fruit bowl, smoothie, or yoghurt. However, regular consumption of berries may increase the risk of arthritis, one of the leading causes of joint pain.
One study on the potent anti-inflammatory properties of garlic shows that people who ate more garlic had a reduced risk of hip osteoarthritis and related hip joint pain. If you’re not a fan of strong garlic flavour in food, you may use it topically as well. For example, you can mix garlic paste with any oil and apply it over the joint pain. It helps to provide relief from joint pain.
Ginger may help reduce knee joint pain. Survey studies show that consuming ginger extract improves joint pain by reducing inflammation. It also helps with the joint pain that usually occurs after knee surgery. You may consume ginger in powdered forms, soup, teas, or ginger sweets.
Home Remedies for Joint Pain
Epsom Salt Soak
You may get relief from painful joints by taking a mineral bath or soaking the affected areas in Epsom salt soak. Epsom salt contains magnesium sulphate that gets absorbed into your skin while soaking and reduces joint pain and stiffness.
Add half a cup of Epsom salt to warm water and soak your painful joints in it for 15-20 minutes. Or you may add two cups of Epsom salt to your bathtub and take a mineral bath.
Golden Milk for Joint Pain
Golden milk is a concoction of turmeric and warm milk, infused with certain spices like cinnamon and black pepper. Curcumin, the potent antioxidant in turmeric, reduces inflammation and lowers joint pain. It is beneficial for people suffering chronic joint pain due to rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
Golden milk has one of the most straightforward recipes. Mix unsweetened milk of your choice with cinnamon powder, grated ginger, turmeric, and no more than a pinch of black pepper. Bring to a boil, simmer for about 10 minutes, and strain the drink.
Chamomile Tea Poultice
The anti-inflammatory property of chamomile tea is an excellent remedy for joint pain. Take four chamomile tea bags and brew a strong infusion with a cup of water. Steep them and after 20 minutes, squeeze out the remaining extract from the tea bags. Soak a clean cloth in the infusion and apply to aching joints. Keep it for about 10-15 minutes to experience the soothing action of chamomile.
Cold-hot treatment is an easily affordable and highly effective method for instant relief from joint pain. Fill one container with ice cubes or cold water and the other with hot water. First, immerse the painful joint in cold water for a minute and then switch to the hot water. Please keep it for 30 seconds and switch back to cold water. Then, repeat the cycle for 15 minutes.
Joint Pain: Medical Treatments
Physical therapy is a cost-effective method to treat joint pain. It helps strengthen the joints’ muscles, improve joint function, and reduce pain. If you’re not ready to start on medications or avoid surgery, physical therapy can be a beneficial option. A physical therapy session includes performing joint-friendly exercises. These exercises help improve the flexibility, balance, and coordination of joints.
Steroid Injections for Joint Pain
Steroid injections, most commonly known as hydrocortisone injections, may reduce joint pain. Hydrocortisone injections may relieve most joint pains caused by an injury or arthritis. This steroid gets directly injected into the painful joint. Medical professionals most often use hydrocortisone injections for joint pain in the hip, wrist, knee, elbow, and shoulder. However, you should ensure not to get repeated hydrocortisone injection as it may cause joint cartilage damage.
Joint pain makes it hard to move around and perform daily activities. Supportive aids like cane or braces help to support the painful joint. In addition, it helps to reduce the pressure exerted on the joints. Mobility aids such as a walker provide extra stability to older people with joint pain. After undergoing any joint surgery, you can easily opt for an electric wheelchair and other supportive aids for better recovery.
You can treat moderate-to-severe joint pain with painkillers. Medications such as ibuprofen, naproxen sodium, aspirin, or acetaminophen help alleviate pain. Moreover, they’re readily available and don’t cost a lot. However, these pain relief drugs may give temporary relief. For better results, you should make necessary lifestyle changes. Also, the over-the-counter pain medications prescribed for you depend on the underlying cause of your joint pain.
You can apply, rub in or spray topical painkillers or analgesics on the painful joints. Creams or ointments with salicylates mainly help reduce the pain of joints close to the skin. Another example is lidocaine gels or patches that numb joint pain. Look for topical creams with menthol and capsaicin to notice relief from joint pain.
Arthroplasty, also called joint replacement surgery, helps with extreme joint pain and damage. The surgery involves replacing a painful joint with an artificial joint made of plastic, ceramic, or metal. Arthroplasty is mainly for knee and hip joints. It can be complete or partial joint replacement, depending on the severity, health, and age. Doctors recommend arthroplasty when the joint pain shows no improvement, even after injections, medications, and physical therapy.
It helps treat joint pain caused by joint damage or deformity. It is a medical procedure that reshapes and changes the alignment of bones, making it easier for the joints to function. For example, for knee joint pain, the lower thigh bone or upper shinbone is reshaped to remove the pressure on the affected joint. As a result, it would significantly decrease the pain. Osteotomy can treat the painful joints of the hips, jaw, spine, and big toe.
Joint pain, also called arthralgia, is a medical condition characterised by pain, discomfort, soreness, or stiffness in the joints. You may call joint pain a sign or symptom of joint pain. The other leading causes include tendinitis, rickets, bursitis, arthritis, gout, viral infections, and injury. No one size fits all treatment plan. The treatment of most joint pains is hydrocortisone injections. Even the tiny joints might benefit from these cortisone shots. The use of topical gels and cream with lidocaine, salicylate, menthol, and capsaicin are pretty efficient in reducing joint pain. Some people opt for oral pain killers and home remedies. Surgery is the last resort to treating joint pain.
You may follow natural and home remedies to achieve relief from joint pain. For example, one can apply chamomile tea extract, garlic paste, and cold-hot treatment to soothing aching joints. Another option is to drink turmeric milk to receive those beneficial anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, joint pain-fighting nutrients are present in fruits, berries, nuts, fatty fish, garlic, and ginger. You can incorporate these food items into your daily diet to prevent the causative factors of joint pain. They also help to reduce the intensity of existing joint pain. However, always keep in mind that moderation is the key.