Relieving Joint Pain: Options to Help You Move Forward
Every time you walk, run, lift or bend, you have your joints to thank. However, gratitude can give way to frustration when a painful joint keeps you from being active or doing the things you love. Relieving joint pain is key to maintaining your health and quality of life. Fortunately, a variety of treatment options are available to help ease the pain, and many people don’t need surgery.
Common causes of joint pain
Joint pain can stem from a variety of causes ranging from injuries, such as sprains and fractures, to musculoskeletal conditions, including:
- Bursitis. Your joints are home to tiny, fluid-filled sacs called bursae that act as cushions between bones and tissues. Swelling of these sacs can cause joint pain.
- Osteoarthritis. Over time, this condition causes bone-protecting cartilage in your joints to break down. This can lead to painful bone-on-bone rubbing during movement.
- Rheumatoid arthritis. Joints are the main target of this condition, in which the immune system attacks healthy cells, leading to painful swelling.
- Tendinitis. Inflamed tendons can cause discomfort near joints.
How joint pain can affect you
Joint pain may be the main symptom that people with arthritis or another condition affecting the joints experience, but it’s not the only one. Other common symptoms include swelling, stiffness, and reduced range of motion.
The effects of joint pain can extend far beyond physical symptoms. For example, many people with arthritis also have depression or anxiety that may be linked to the musculoskeletal condition. Living with joint pain may force you to miss out on activities that bring you joy or make memories with loved ones.
If left untreated over the long term, joint pain — and its effects on your life, including reduced mobility — may worsen. If joint discomfort is affecting your ability to navigate everyday life or participate in favorite activities, tell your doctor. He or she may order an imaging scan to help figure out what’s causing the joint pain. Once you have a diagnosis, you and your doctor or an orthopedic specialist will talk about treatments.
Options for pain relief
There’s no best treatment to relieve joint pain—different treatments work for different people. The goal is to find the treatment that gives you the most relief so that pain no longer holds you back.
Your doctor or specialist likely won’t recommend surgery, such as joint replacement, as the first line of treatment. For many people, nonsurgical treatments are enough to relieve pain and help them get back to their favorite activities. For example, working with a physical therapist can help reduce discomfort and improve range of motion. Taking pain medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines, may allow you to manage pain. Be sure to discuss possible side effects with your medical provider.
If nonsurgical treatments don’t work, you’re experiencing severe pain, or discomfort is having a major effect on your quality of life or health, joint replacement surgery may be a good option to consider.
Has your doctor ordered an imaging scan to help pinpoint the cause of joint pain? Learn about the advantages of undergoing diagnostic imaging at American Health Imaging.