Currently, more than 40 million adults in the United States suffer from arthritis. The CDC estimates that by 2030 one-fourth of the entire American adult population will have arthritis. For millions this means chronic, life-changing pain. This also means difficulty holding a job or even doing simple tasks such as buttoning a shirt or going up and down stairs. Inflammation, pain or discomfort arising from any part of a joint including cartilage, bone, ligaments, tendons, or muscles are all forms of joint pain.
- Limited movement of the joint
- Pain, swelling, redness, or warmth on a joint
- Pain that radiates from the joint to other parts of the body
- Joint stiffness, especially in the morning that improves throughout the day with movement
- Pain that increases with rainy weather
- Joint pain that affects posture or gait
- Joint pain that limits activity
- Soreness, aching or throbbing
- Slight fever
- Feeling of grinding or grating
- Joint tenderness
Commonly affected Areas
- Hands, wrists, fingers
- Weight bearing joints such as knees or hips
It is also important to note if the joint pain is one-sided or symmetrical- this could help diagnose the cause of your joint pain.
The most common cause of joint pain is arthritis, which is inflammation in the joint itself. Joint pain can be mild, making certain activities uncomfortable, but joint pain can also be so severe causing limited movement and weight bearing. Severe joint pain is debilitating and can limit a person’s overall quality of life. Causes of joint pain include:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Injuries, strains, and sprains
- Lyme’s disease
- Ankylosing spondylitis
- Joint Infection
Diagnosing Joint Pain
These are a few conditions that may cause joint pain but joint pain can also be related to other serious conditions or diseases. It is important to make an appointment with your doctor when you notice any new or worsening joint problems. Diagnosing causes of joint pain often time requires a physical examination by a trained medical professional accompanied by blood work, imaging, and other testing.
After receiving your diagnosis you and your doctor can create a treatment plan that is right for your lifestyle. Treatment plans for joint pain include self-care, physical therapy and a medication regimen. Self-care strategies include:
Regular appointments with your doctor ensuring you are keeping up with regular health screenings and vaccinations.
Maintaining a healthy weight. Excess weight can cause extra strain on joints and limit movement in people with moderate to severe joint pain.
Daily exercise. This can help you maintain a healthy weight and it will also help strengthen joints and the muscles surrounding the joints.
Maintaining a nutritious diet. Nutrition is essential to decreasing inflammation in the body, particularly the joints. Foods like sugary treats, red meats and refined grains can all aggravate joint pain. Numerous studies show that a diet with lots of vegetables, legumes, certain spices (turmeric, capsaicin, e.g.), and foods with omega-3 fatty acids can all help ease inflammation in the joints. This type of diet is also known as the Mediterranean Diet.
Over the Counter Supplements. There are numerous supplements that can be ordered online or purchased at your local drug store. NSAIDS such as Naproxen, Turmeric capsules, and CBD oil are all great options for joint pain that are backed by research.
Education. Learn more about your diagnosis. Keep track of your symptoms, diet, exercise and lifestyle. This will not only help you and give you more control over your pain, but it will help your doctor find the best treatment for you.