Joint pain is a common health condition and may result from one of several known causes. Although joint pain is usually caused by an injury or sprain, it can result from underlying conditions such as osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA), particularly as you get older.
Joint pain symptoms
The nature and severity of your joint pain symptoms will depend to a great extent on the cause. If the joint pain
is due to inflammatory disorders such as injury or forms of arthritis
, symptoms may include:
If the pain is caused by non-inflammatory disorders, symptoms may include:
- Limited morning stiffness in the joint
- Exacerbation of pain from exercise
- Relief from pain with rest
Diagnosing point pain
Diagnosing joint pain is often difficult because some symptoms are common to various
underlying conditions. However it is worth making an appointment to see your GP if you have
any concerns about the joint pain that you are experiencing. In many cases, such as RA, an
early diagnosis can help prevent the disease from progressing further.
In particular, arrange to see your GP if:
- the joint pain lasts more than 3 days, moves to other joints, or worsens
- the joint pain is associated with fever
- you experience progressive weight loss
Joint pain treatment
Joint pain treatment options vary with the causes of joint pain
. In most cases anti inflammatory medications along with adequate rest, warm baths, massage and stretching exercises may provide you with relief from symptoms and help you perform routine activities without too much discomfort.
Medical treatment of these conditions aims to reduce joint pain, improve joint mobility and
quality of life and restrict functional impairment, while limiting toxic side effects of therapy.
Drugs used to treat these two conditions include:
• Non Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS)
• COX 2 inhibitors
Glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate supplements have been shown to ease symptoms in people with moderate to severe joint pain. Studies have shown that these substances can also help restore cartilage. In contrast to the commonly prescribed NSAIDs, these supplements have not been shown to be associated with side effects.
Diagnosis will involve a detailed analysis of your medical history and a thorough physical
examination by your GP. The GP may also refer you to a specialist for further tests.
Joint pain relief
There are a number of things you can do to help with your joint pain.
Applying heat for 20 minutes up to three times a day will help to relief joint pain. Heat
increases local blood flow and improves flexibility. Warm towels, hot packs and heating pads
may be used. Remember that heat must only be used on chronic pain i.e. pain that extends
beyond the expected period of healing.
Using cold packs or over the counter cooling sprays will alleviate pain by numbing nerves
around the joint. Remember that cold must only be used on acute pain i.e. pain that does not
last beyond the expected period of healing.
Joint pain supplements
There are a number of supplements that can help alleviate joint pain and support healthy
joints. These include:
- Glucosamine sulphate
- Chondroitin sulphate
- Niacinamide (always talk to your GP before taking niacinimide)
- S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe)
There are a number of practical things you can do to help with your joint pain. These include:
- Resting the joint
- Raising the joint to avoid further swelling
- Wrapping a heating pad around the painful joint for 15-20 minutes
- Exercising within the normal range of your body without over stretching
- Massaging the joint
- Taking pain medication to relieve the pain
Remember to see your GP if the pain does not improve in 3 days or worsens.