The parts of the body where the bones meet are known as joints. The entire skeleton of a human being moves because of the presence of joints. The different joints that are present in our body are the shoulder joints, hip joints, knee joints and elbow joints. Many people all over the world are afflicted by joint pain and in most cases, the treatment does not require any surgical interventions. The most common cause of joint pain is arthritis, which occurs when there is inflammation in the joints. The most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is common in adults over 40 and affects wrists, hands, knees and hips. Rheumatoid arthritis affects more women than men and it can deform or debilitate the joints over time.
Some of the other causes of joint pain include gout, lupus, infectious diseases like mumps and influenza, cancer, osteoporosis, rickets, infection of a bone or even overuse of a joint. However, arthritis, which is the most common cause of joint pain, occurs due to damage to the cartilage. The cartilage is a connective tissue and normal wear and tear of this tissue can cause osteoarthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder and it occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the tissues of the body.
The treatment for joint pain usually involves the use of topical pain relievers or the use of nonsteroidal drugs. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle with a good diet and proper workouts can help to deal with this menace. Sometimes, depending on the cause of the pain, a doctor may have to draw out water from the inflamed joint. Sometimes surgery, to replace a joint with an artificial one, has to be done.
The home treatment for addressing joint pain involves a number of steps. Topical pain relievers and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are used to reduce swelling, inflammation and pain. A person should stay physically active and do some moderate exercises to keep the blood flowing. One of the most important factors which help to deal with joint pain is keeping the body weight in check. On the other hand, if a person is suffering from joint pain due to a cause not associated with arthritis, he/she can take nonprescription, anti-inflammatory drugs to treat the pain. Furthermore, he/she can address the pain getting massages, taking warm baths, stretching the joints frequently and by resting enough.
The different medicines used to treat joint pain due to arthritis include analgesics to treat the pain. Analgesics, however, do not reduce inflammation. The nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen help to reduce both pain and inflammation. The transmission of pain signals can be blocked by using menthol or capsaicin creams. Furthermore, a person can also take the help of immunosuppressants to reduce inflammation. Rheunatoid arthritis is generally treated with the help of corticosteroids or disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs.
In some severe cases, a person may have to undergo surgery to replace an affected joint with an artificial one. This surgery is generally carried out in the knees and hips. Arthritis treatment also involves physical therapy to strengthen the muscles around the affected joint.
A person is eligible for treatment of joint pain if: he/she has severe pain in any joint/joints, if their joint has swollen up suddenly or if he/she has experienced some serious injury. Other factors that may make a person eligible for treatment are if his/her joint appears to be deformed or if any of the joints has become completely immobile. Typically, a person should avail treatment if he/she finds the area around the affected joint swollen or red and if it appears to be tender or warm when touched. Treatment should immediately availed if the pain persists for more than 3 days and if the person suffers from unexplained fever.
A joint replacement surgery is a major operation and there are a number of factors that need to taken into account before recommending this treatment to anyone. Among these factors, the physical condition of the patient and age are considered to be the most important. Thus a person with some other chronic illness or a very old person may not be eligible for this treatment. People having problems with corticosteroids should not take them. Physical therapy may not applicable for people who are bed-ridden or who are orthopedically handicapped.
The side-effects of analgesics are upset stomach, dizziness, drowsiness, ringing in the ears, skin itching, constipation and dry mouth. The common side-effects of NSAIDs are stomach pain and heartburn, headaches, dizziness, liver or kidney problems, high blood pressure, allergic reactions like wheezing and throat infection and a tendency to bleed more. Corticosteroids, used to treat rheumatic arthritis, can cause osteoporosis, diabetes, weight gain, cataracts, skin thinning, glaucoma and others. Join replacement surgery may cause blood clots in the deep veins of the legs, damage to nerve and tissues, dislocation and fracture of bones and even cause infection to wounds.
exercises like head tilt, neck rotation and others help to deal with pain in the neck. A person suffering from pain in the hands and knees can do exercises like finger bends or thumb bends and leg raises or hamstring stretches respectively. These exercises will help a person to deal with the pain and also to lead a healthy life after undergoing treatment for joint pain. Other important post-treatment guidelines include losing weight, having foods rich in anti-oxidants and avoid processed foods, fried foods and dairy products.
A joint replacement surgery provides a person with a new joint. However, a person will require about 6 weeks to resume normal physical activities. However, the pain and swelling may take about 3 months to subside. Treatment with medication helps to take care of the symptoms but recovery from arthritis can be a life-long process. Regular exercises and a well-balanced diet help to control the symptoms but complete recovery can take a lot of time (if it can be cured at all).
Analgesics cost about Rs 600 while a tablet of ibuprofen are available for Rs 10. 30 g of capsaicin cream, which is applied topically to relieve pain, is available for a price of Rs 60. Joint replacements surgeries are expensive and in India it may cost more than Rs 1,70,000.
Joint pain due to arthritis cannot be permanently cured. What can be done is bring the pain and inflammation under control with the help of medications. Joint pain can happen due to a lot of reasons and recovering from joint pain involves treatment of the causal ailment. Joint pain can be managed or reduced by treating the cause. However, it may occur again over time. This is more so for joint pain due to arthritis.
A bath with Epsom salts can help to manage joint pain. A hot and cold pack therapy, when done to the affected area, helps to provide immediate relief from joint pain. Intake of foods rich in collagen help to build joints and also keeps the connective tissues strong. Consumption of anti-inflammatory herbs like turmeric, ginger and boswellia help to reduce inflammation. Losing weight also helps to manage joint pain.