Joints form the connections between bones, creating movement and providing support. Any damage to the joints, due to disease or injury can limit movement and cause a lot of pain, from mildly irritating to extremely severe and debilitating. Even a mild joint irritation can reduce the quality of life. Dr. Bart Gatz MD can help reduce joint pain and inflammation, as well as diagnose and treat the underlying issue, in order to provide a lasting solution that preserves joint function.
There are many ways to temporarily relieve joint pain and get immediate relief. The simplest way is applying an ice pack to the inflamed area for about 10 minutes. Ice slows down the flow of blood to your joints providing relief and minimizing swelling. Ensure the ice is wrapped in a towel as placing it directly on the skin can cause an ice burn. Alternatively, applying heat on the inflamed area using an electric heating pad, heat wrap or gel pack causes the joint tissues to relax, minimizing the pain.
Over-the-counter drugs can also provide immediate relief to joint inflammation. Be careful to follow the instructions on the medication, taking extra care not to imbibe more than the recommended dosage. Ibuprofen and acetaminophen are often recommended for joint pain. Rubbing capsaicin cream on the inflamed joint lessens soreness by misdirecting pain receptors in the brain. It can also be found over-the-counter.
If the joint pain lasts more than a week, schedule an appointment with your doctor. He or she will conduct a physical exam to find out the extent of the injury. The doctor will need to know your level of activity and medical history and may order imaging tests to be done before making a prognosis. If the problem is moderate, the doctor will recommend mild treatment options such as administering steroid/acid injections, or a visit to an acupuncturist. Though most insurance plans rarely cover acupuncture, it can be very effective in reducing pain and inflammation.
If the joint pain was caused by a severe injury, the doctor might opt for a debridement procedure. This is a non-invasive procedure where the doctor removes any damaged tissue in the joint. It, however, works best if employed as part of targeted treatment to counteract the damage of a particular injury. If the pain is chronic, agree to an osteotomy procedure. Here, the surgeon will shave part of the bone to better align the joint. It may take longer to recover from, but it’s an effective treatment for long-term inflammation.
Building Stronger Joints
Consume supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin that strengthen the cartilage in your joints. Inform the doctor about this first, and then take the pills according to the instructions given. Additionally, eat 3 to 4 servings of eggs or fish every week. These foods have omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce inflammation and pressure on the joints. You can also take omega-3 oil or fish-oil if you don’t like eating fish or eggs. If you do, tuna and salmon are some of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
Activities such as yoga are great at relieving joint pain and exercising the joints. Yoga can also help reduce stress, which makes the problem more manageable. Swim regularly or do water exercises to improve flexibility and minimize pain. Be careful not to overdo the exercises as you may wear out your joints and cause harm.