There are many health conditions that can cause joint pain on a daily basis. Joint pain can be caused by trauma from an injury, overuse injuries, autoimmune conditions, arthritis, and more.
Many people with conditions like these live with daily pain, and it interferes with work, family time, hobbies, and fun. People who live with chronic joint pain don’t usually like to take long walks or go play sports, although these activities can be quite beneficial.
Ways to Help Reduce Joint Pain
There are a number of noninvasive or minimally invasive techniques that can provide relief from daily joint pain. Let’s take a look at some of these methods and how they may help you:
1. Therapeutic Exercise with Physical Therapy
Special physical therapy exercises can be designed to help strengthen the muscles surrounding a painful joint. This way, the muscles can help take pressure off of the joint itself, acting as a shock absorber.
For example, stronger leg muscles can help support a knee that has weak cartilage. The proper balance of muscle training in therapy can ease the burden placed on joints, causing a break from the pain.
2. Dietary and Weight Changes
Someone who is overweight or obese is placing an overload of pressure onto an affected joint, especially the knees and hips. Therefore, simply changing your eating habits a bit can help relieve some pressure from the joints that support the body.
3. Topical Solutions
The use of certain substances in a topical form (i.e., rubbed on the skin) can also bring relief from aching joints. Things like capsaicin – which is what makes peppers hot – rubbed on an affected joint can help bring relief the same way menthol, salicylate, and lidocaine can. It warms and numbs the affected area to bring temporary relief.
4. Nutritional Supplements
For people with arthritis, certain supplements have become extremely popular, such as glucosamine and chondroitin. These are often combined into a pill or a drink that a person consumes once a day, or as indicated. Although these substances cannot replace or restore lost cartilage, some patients find that they can improve symptoms such as joint pain.
Glucosamine has been touted to be useful in strengthening, repairing, and revitalizing cartilage. Chondroitin is naturally occurring in cartilage, and it can act as a sponge for the synovial fluid found in a joint.
5. Orthotics and Braces
Wearing a brace or a specially designed shoe (orthotic) may help relieve some pain felt in the weight-bearing joints of the body. Speak to an orthopedic doctor about specific items that may help ease the particular pains that trouble you.
6. Cortisone Injections
Cortisone is a naturally occurring steroid that is produced in response to stress. It can help reduce joint pain for a matter of days or weeks, or in some cases for several months. A steroid injection can be repeated as long as it has been atleast 3 months since the last injection. These injections are not done more frequently because overuse of cortisone can weaken the bones and soft tissues in the body.
7. Heat and Cold
Alternate hot and cold therapeutic treatment on troubled joints. Cold therapy helps to decrease blood flow, thereby relieving pain and swelling. Heat therapy helps to increase blood flow to the area and relax the muscles.
Always be sure to place a towel around the hot or cold therapy so that it does not sit directly on the skin. Otherwise, the cold therapy can cause frostbite, and the heat can cause a burn.
Therapeutic ultrasound uses sound waves to target areas with pain. It can help to increase blood flow, relax spasms, and facilitate healing.
In this treatment, ultrasound is used to facilitate absorption of topical pain medication into the skin. This is used to help relieve pain in soft-tissue injuries and inflammation.
This is a very different treatment in that it uses electrical currents to accelerate the delivery of medication into the damaged joint. This treatment is often done via placing an electronic patch on the skin, and a low-level current causes a warm, tingling sensation in the joint.
Orthopedic Physician in Raleigh, Durham, and Apex, in the Triangle region of North Carolina with EmergeOrtho.
If you suffer from joint pain, whether localized or systemic, contact our orthopedic team at the offices of Dr. Brett J. Gilbert for an expert opinion and treatment plan.