Joint pain – Featured image

Throughout your life your joints are put under a lot of stress and although our bodies are designed to cope with this, occasionally wear and tear can occur.

Joints are vitally important as they form the connection between bones and provide support when we move, if they become injured or disease causes damage it can hinder movement as well as being extremely painful.

Joint pain is not uncommon, a national survey indicates that roughly one-third of adults have reported having joint pain within the last 30 days. As joint pain is so common there are a few things that can be done to either help prevent or relieve it.

Conditions That Can Lead to Joint Pain

One of the leading causes of joint pain is arthritis which literally means inflammation of the joints. There are many different types and causes of arthritis and they can affect people of various ages, some will only last for a short period of time while others can continue for an extended period or permanently.

The two most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA), both of these can cause pain and discomfort:

Osteoarthritis:

This is referred to as wear and tear arthritis and  is normally the result of a breakdown of cartilage in the joints and often occurs in weight-bearing joints such as the hips, knees and spine.

Rheumatoid Arthritisthis:

this occurs when your body’s immune system targets the lining of your joints. RA is unusual in that it affects both sides of the body e.g. both hands or knees, it can also affect other areas like the eyes, lungs, heart and nerves.

Ways to Prevent or Help Relieve Joint Pain

The saying ‘prevention is better than cure’ is definitely true when it comes to joint pain, trying to prevent joint pain entirely is better than having to relieve the aches and pains that come along with it. However, it can simply be an effect of ageing – unfortunately we haven’t discovered the fountain of youth just yet!

Here are several ways to help prevent or relieve joint pain:

Keep Active

Woman stretching before a workout

This is not only beneficial to help prevent joint pain but also for general good health. Many of us have jobs where we sit at our desks all day or get into habits where we are sitting still for long periods of time such as watching TV. It’s best to regularly take breaks away from your desk or chair and get active, the more you move the less stiffness you’ll have.

Lack of activity can also lead to weight gain, this puts additional strain on your joints which can lead to aches and pains. To maintain a healthy weight it’s advisable to keep active and eat a healthy and balanced diet.

Padding

Woman roller blading

Sudden impact is never good for your joints so remember that if you’re playing any kind of contact or high impact sport or are going to participate in an activity that could cause injury always wear protective padding. This should be worn around the knees and elbows as padding helps to absorb some of the impact, easing the pressure on your joints.

Medication

There are particular medications that can be taken if suitable for you, such as ibuprofen, that help to relieve joint pain.  

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Heat and Cold Therapy

If you're experiencing joint pain heat and cold treatments are a great way to relieve it.

Heat works by increasing the circulation helping to deliver nutrients to joints and muscles whereas cold restricts blood vessels and reduces circulation. Cold therapy is particularly useful for acute pain.

For Heat Therapy:

  • Soak in a warm bath or shower to help ease stiffness
  • Use a heated pad, spray or cream and apply it to the affected area. Leave it on for up to 20 minutes or the products specified time.
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For Cold Therapy:

  • Apply an ice pack or cooling patch to the affected area, the cold temperature helps to reduce blood flow which in turn reduces swelling. Don’t apply ice directly to the skin, instead wrap it in a towel or washcloth to avoid ice burn.
  • Submerge your joint in a container of ice and water, the ice bath will help to numb the nerve endings
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Massage

Woman having a massage

Massages are not only a great way to unwind and relax but they also help to alleviate joint pain particularly in your knees and hips.

Depending on your preference you can either have it done professionally leaving you to lie back and relax or do it at home yourself. If you do decide on a DIY massage then use a topical menthol rub, if suitable, as this will help to relieve the pain. Lastly, an important point to remember is when massaging your body always use strokes towards the heart.

Rest and Relaxation

Woman sleeping

R&R is one of the best ways to help relieve joint pain. A good nights sleep and having some down time allows the body to repair itself and restore energy that is often lost during our busy days.

Finally, if you are suffering from joint pain it is always advisable to consult your Pharmacist for advice as early as possible. They will be able to properly assess the situation and provide recommendations to help alleviate your pain.