Knees, shoulders, hips, elbows, or any other joint in your body can be subject to aches and pains, from overuse, aging, or a degenerative condition. Arthritis is a common culprit, but injuries or even poor body mechanics may cause joint pain as well.
For most people, relieving that pain turns into a primary concern, so they can continue their daily activities without impairment.
People with joint issues most often have problems with their knees, followed by shoulders and hips. When pain lasts for a few weeks and then disappears, it’s called acute pain, and when it lasts for months or recurs over longer periods of time, it’s considered chronic.
The duration of your joint pain is a factor in your treatment, since some remedies are suitable for acute pain but may have complications of their own when used long-term for chronic conditions.
Here are six pain treatments — both drug-based and natural — that may be appropriate for your joint pain. For a full medical assessment and recommendation, contact the Apex Medical Center location that’s most convenient for you.
Available in both over-the-counter and prescription strengths, NSAIDs are a standard drug treatment for moderate to severe joint pain. The most common medications in this class are aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen. These medications not only block pain, they reduce swelling that may be adding pressure or limiting mobility.
Less inflammation may allow your body to repair the underlying damage. NSAIDs may increase the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding, so long-term use may be a problem for some people.
Acetaminophen is often effective for pain that’s not accompanied by swelling. Muscle relaxants are frequently combined with NSAIDs, if muscle spasms accompany your joint pain. Antidepressants and antiepileptic drugs may help block joint pain, even if you have neither condition.
When other drug-based pain relief is ineffective, opioid-based medications may be prescribed. Since these carry a risk of addiction, they’re generally not recommended for chronic joint pain conditions.
Capsaicin changes the way your body transmits and receives pain symptoms using a chemical typically found in hot peppers. Applied as a cream, it disrupts the joint pain at its location. Methyl salicylate and menthol ointments create cooling and warming sensations, distracting you from joint pain.
Corticosteroid injections are often effective when used for joint pain, but the effects are usually temporary. Injections are typically spaced every 3-4 months, and prolonged use may cause joint deterioration.
Synthetic versions of synovial fluid may be injected to supplement natural fluid, which cushions and supports your joints. It’s typical for synovial fluid to taper off with age.
Even moderate amounts of weight loss can reduce the stress on weight-bearing joints such as the knees, hips, and ankles, so changes to diet and activity can often reduce pain. Some arthritic conditions respond to more exercise, which may seem counterintuitive when you’re feeling pain. Physical therapy may help you build supporting muscles to share the load that joints absorb.
When your joint pain is acute, you can often relieve the pain and promote healing using the RICE technique:
If home treatment isn’t effective and over-the-counter medications don’t help, contact Apex Medical Center to explore further pain management techniques.