Since joints function as the main connections between the bones in our body they are directly linked to our movement. Because of this joint point, whether due to injury or disease, can not only be very uncomfortable, but also hamper mobility. It is unfortunately also a very common condition and although it can affect anyone, it is often older folk who experience it the most. Not all joint pain is debilitating of course, but the condition definitely has the ability to affect your quality of life.
Technically any pain or discomfort originating from the point in your body where two or more bones meet can be classified as joint pain. The symptoms of joint point will generally depend on whether it is caused by infection, inflammation or because of injury. If the joint paint is injury-related, the most noticeable symptoms will include both deformity and swelling. If the cause is inflammation or an infection, the symptoms may include swelling of the joints, redness, stiffness and warmth in the joints as well as fever.
In some cases, you might also experience other symptoms that at first will seem unrelated to the joint pains, such as muscle aches, rashes, fatigue and abdominal pains.
The type of symptoms that manifest might also be an indication as to what the underlying cause of the joint pain is. Because joint pain is such a common occurrence, there is a variety of ailments that could be the underlying cause. If you experience any of the symptoms related to joint pains, it is important to visit a health care practitioner in order to get a professional diagnosis. During the diagnosis, you will often be asked a series of questions, such as when the pain started, how long it lasts and the degree of the pain, which can help the doctor to pinpoint the underlying cause.
If arthritis is the cause of your joint pains, you will find that it is usually coupled with the appearance of bony knobs on your finger joints. In addition, the affected joints will often make a crunching or cracking sound when you move them.
In the case of rheumatoid arthritis, you will often experience dry mouth and eyes as well as weight loss and even anemia in conjunction with the joint pain. Unlike other types of arthritis, it can affect younger people as well and usually involves the small joints. Instead of sustained pain, the pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis will usually come and go.
One of the most common reasons for joint pain is Osteoarthritis, which usually afflicts the elderly. Joints affected by this type of arthritis are usually the weight bearing ones such as the knees or, more often, the hips.
The pain associated with gout usually starts at night and might include severe pain and fever. In the case of gout, the pain will occur repeatedly due to uric acid build-up in your body. Although the joints in the fingers, knees and elbows can be affected, it is usually the joints of the big toe that are affected first, which is why most people will experience joint pain associated with gout in their big toe first.
A less common reason for joint pains can include certain types of medication, especially pain medications. This side effect can be caused by Feldene as well as Actonel, Boniva, Fosamax and other types of bisphosphonates used for the treatment of osteoporosis.
A common cause of joint pain is injury. This often includes the dislocation or separation of the joint, ligament sprains, tearing of the cartilage or ligament, contusions and more. Injuries can occur due to sports, exercising or any type of repetitive motions.
Certain types of infectious diseases can also cause joint pains to occur. These include, but are not limited to Syphilis, Tuberculosis, Rubella, Lyme disease, Hepatitis and Influenza.
Other severe reasons for joint pain can include Hyperparathyroidism, which can occur due to one of the four parathyroid glands in the body being overactive and producing excess hormones. Other serious causes of joint pains include bone cancer, Paget’s disease and hemophilia.
Your prognosis all depends on the underlying cause of the joint pain. In some cases, such as mild injury, joint pain can be acute and go away within a couple of weeks. In other cases, such as arthritis, it could be chronic and last weeks, months or years. Depending on the severity of the underlying cause of the joint pain, there can be potentially serious complications if treatment is not sought. This is especially dangerous if the patient experiences joint pain because of serious diseases. Everything, from the loss of mobility and joint damage, to physical disability and even paralysis can occur.
When it comes to treatment, the options available to you will once again depend on what the underlying causes of the joint pain are. In some instances there might be no way to effectively cure the underlying causes, in which case the focus is on improving function, reducing pain as well as stopping further damage to the affected joints.
For some types of joint pain, the most effective treatment is a change in lifestyle. Engaging in an exercise program can often reduce pain as well as fatigue while improving your bone and muscle strength. Since it can also provide relief from stiffness, exercise is often recommended for patients with joint swelling. The types of exercise programs may include endurance exercises, strength training as well as exercises to enhance flexibility. In order to avoid further stress on the joints it is often best to engage in low-impact exercises, such as cycling or swimming at first.
In some instances, physical therapy might help to provide relief from joint pains. For example in the case of rheumatoid arthritis health care providers often recommend orthotics or even splints which are used to support joints. Other options include massage, water therapy or applying ice or heat to the affected areas. The heat can help with the reduction of muscle spasm while applying a cold pack can reduce the inflammation.
Depending on the type and severity of the joint pains, you can sometimes recover faster from flare-ups or prevent them from happening by getting enough sleep. It is also wise to refrain from remaining in one type of position for too long, so be sure to take frequent breaks if your job involves sitting down for extended periods. You should also try to avoid any type of movements or positions that place more stress on the affected joints. Stress can also play a role in joint pains and can be combated with relaxing activities such as yoga or meditation.
Changes to your diet can also help to alleviate the intensity or frequency of joint pains. Food containing vitamin E and other important minerals is recommended, so sticking to a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables can be beneficial. Soybeans, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, flaxseed, herring, salmon and other foods that are omega-3 fatty acid rich is also a good idea. Also related to food is the subject of your weight. If you are overweight, it places more stress on joints, especially in the legs and feet. By losing weight, you can reduce some of the stress on these joints that will lead to decreased pain.
In some cases, medication is required for the treatment of joint pains. These range from over the counter medicines to prescription medicines for more severe cases. As with all types of medicine, it is important to educate yourself on the possible side effects before taking anything and to stick to the recommended doses. Tylenol, ibuprofen, naproxen and aspirin are all drugs that can be purchased over the counter and used to relieve joint pains.
The type of prescription medicine needed for the treatment of joint pains will depend on the type and severity of the pains. For example, corticosteroids can be given to treat inflammation while penicillamine, methotrexate and other disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs are sometimes prescribed for patients suffering from autoimmune arthritis. On the other hand, patients with rheumatoid arthritis who are not responding to other medications might be given immunosuppressants.
According to WebMD (http://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-4181/capsaicin-top/details) topical agents, such as capsaicin can also be used for the treatment of joint pains. It is effective because it blocks the substance in the body that allows pain signals to travel to the brain.
In some cases where joint pain sufferers (such as some people with joint disease, arthritis or tendinitis) don’t find any relief from topical or oral medications, doctors inject steroids directly into the patient’s joint every couple of months. These injections are effective at relieving the pain, but some people then tend to overuse the joint, causing further damage. Sometimes doctors will also remove fluid from the joint or inject hyaluronan, which is a synthetic replacement for natural joint fluid.
In the instances where medication cannot be used for the effective treatment of joint pains, it might be required to undergo surgery to treat the underlying issue causing the pain. These can range from joint replacements to rebuilding the joint.
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