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Joint Pain

Joint Pain

What you need to know about Joint Pain

The connections between bones are formed by joints. They offer assistance and support. Any joint damage caused by disease or injury can limit your movement and create a lot of pain.

Symptoms of Joint Pain

Your joint pain may need a visit to the doctor in some situations. If you don’t know what’s causing your joint discomfort or if you’re having other strange symptoms, schedule an appointment.

You should also seek medical advice if:

  • Swelling, redness, tenderness, or warmth to the touch surrounding the joint
  • The agony lasts three days or longer.
  • You have a fever but no other flu symptoms.

If any of the following occurs, go to the doctors or A&E:

  • You’ve sustained a significant injury.
  • The joint appears to be twisted.
  • Swelling of the joint happens all of a sudden.
  • The joint is absolutely stationary.
  • You’re suffering from acute joint discomfort.

Joint Pain Diagnosis

A physical examination will almost certainly be performed by your doctor. They’ll also enquire about your joint pain using a series of questions. This may assist in narrowing down the possible causes.

An X-ray of the joints may be required to detect arthritis-related joint deterioration.

If your doctor suspects another cause, a blood test to check for autoimmune illnesses may be ordered. They may also require a sedimentation rate test or a complete blood count to determine the extent of inflammation in the body.

What causes joint pain?

Arthritis

Arthritis is one of the most prevalent causes of joint discomfort. Osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are the two most common types of arthritis (RA).

Around 8.5 million people in the United Kingdom suffer from aching joints caused by osteoarthritis. b) Women and persons in their later years are more likely to develop osteoarthritis; X-ray studies reveal that at least half of people over 65 have osteoarthritis. It develops slowly and usually affects joints that are often used, such as the:

The disintegration of the cartilage that functions as a cushion and shock absorber for the joints causes joint discomfort.

RA is most common in people over the age of 30 to 50 years old, according to NICE,  National Institute for Health and Care Excellence around 1.5 men and 3.6 women develop RA per 10,000 people per year in the UK.

Over time, it can distort and weaken the joints. As the body’s immune system attacks the membrane that lines the joints, RA causes discomfort, inflammation, and fluid buildup.

Other causes

The following factors can cause joint pain:

  • Bursitis, or inflammation of the cushioning pads around joints
  • Lupus
  • Gout
  • Certain infectious diseases, such as mumps, influenza, and hepatitis
  • Chondromalacia of the patella, or cartilage disintegration in the kneecap
  • An injury
  • Tendinitis, or inflammation of the tendon
  • A bone or joint infection
  • Joint overuse
  • Cancer
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Osteoporosis
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Rickets

When to call a Doctor

If the pain becomes unbearable, your joint becomes inflamed or distorted, or you can no longer use the joint, seek urgent medical attention, regardless of the treatment you’re using.

How is joint pain treated?

Joint pain can be mildly bothersome or completely incapacitating. It might be short-lived (acute) or linger for several weeks or months (chronic) (chronic). Even little joint discomfort and swelling can have a negative impact on your quality of life. Joint pain can usually be managed with medicine, physical therapy, or alternative treatments, depending on the reason.

Your doctor will first try to figure out what’s causing your joint discomfort and treat it. The goal is to minimise inflammation and pain while maintaining joint function. Options for treatment include:

Medications

An over-the-counter or prescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicine (NSAID) such as aspirin, celecoxib, ibuprofen, or naproxen can relieve moderate-to-severe joint discomfort with swelling. NSAIDs can have negative side effects, including an increased risk of gastrointestinal bleeding.

Paracetamol can help with minor discomfort that isn’t accompanied by swelling. However, be cautious when taking this prescription, especially if you drink alcohol, as high doses can harm your liver. Because of the hazards, you should use caution when using any of these pain relievers.

If NSAIDs aren’t enough to relieve your pain, your doctor may prescribe a stronger opioid drug. You should only use opioid medicines under the supervision of a doctor because they can cause drowsiness. They can also produce constipation, which can be treated with laxatives.

Other medications that may aid with pain relief include:

  • Muscle relaxants are used to relieve muscle spasms (may be used together with NSAIDs to increase the effect)
  • Antidepressants and antiepileptic medications (which both interfere with pain signals)

Topical Agents

Capsaicin, a compound found in chilli peppers, may help to reduce arthritis and other joint discomforts. Capsaicin inhibits the transmission of pain signals by blocking substance P and triggering the release of pain-blocking compounds termed endorphins in the body. Burning or stinging in the region where capsaicin cream is applied are possible side effects. An arthritis lotion containing the chemical methyl salicylate is another topical treatment.

Injections

If oral or topical drugs don’t relieve joint discomfort, the doctor may recommend injections.

  • Steroids. Every 3 to 4 months, they may inject a steroid medication directly into the joint (which may be paired with a local anaesthetic). Patients with arthritis or tendinitis are the most common recipients of steroid injections. If steroid injections are used to disguise an injury, the joint may be overused, causing more damage. The operations are effective, although their effects are often just transient.
  • PRP – Platelet-rich plasma. Generated from your own blood and injected into the aching joint. A huge amount of platelets and proteins in your joint have anti-inflammatory and immune-modulating properties.
  • Prolotherapy. An irritant (typically a sugar solution) is injected into joints, ligaments, and tendons in a series of injections. The injections are thought to promote local healing of wounded tissues. 15-20 shots administered monthly for 3-4 months may be part of a therapeutic plan.

Other options for injection include:

  • Fluid removal from the joint (and is often done in connection with a steroid injection)
  • Hyaluronan injections, a synthetic mimic of natural joint fluid. This is a treatment for osteoarthritis.

Physical Therapy

Strengthen the muscles around the joint, stabilise the joint, and enhance your range of motion with the help of a physical therapist. Ultrasound, heat or cold therapy, electrical nerve stimulation, and manipulation will be used by the therapist.

Losing weight can help reduce some of the pressure on your sore joints if you are overweight. Exercise (combined with diet) is an efficient strategy to reduce weight but keep to low-impact workouts that won’t aggravate the joint worse. Swimming and bicycling are two of the best activities since they both allow you to exercise your joints while minimising impact. Swimming lessens some of the load on your joints since water is buoyant.

Home Therapy

Short-term joint discomfort can be relieved at home with a few easy procedures. The abbreviation PRICE stands for one method:

  • Protect the joint with a brace or wrap.
  • Rest the joint, avoiding any activities that cause you pain.
  • Ice the joint for about 15 minutes, several times each day.
  • Compress the joint using an elastic wrap.
  • Elevate the joint above the level of your heart.

Ice can help to alleviate pain and inflammation in sore joints. Use a heating pad or wrap many times a day to relieve muscle spasms around joints. Your doctor may advise you to tape or splint the joint to limit movement and relieve pain, but don’t keep it immobilised for too long because it will stiffen and lose function.

Alternative Treatments

Glucosamine and chondroitin supplements have been shown in studies to help with joint discomfort and function. Both of these chemicals are found in healthy cartilage, which cushions bones and protects joints. Supplements containing glucosamine and chondroitin are available in capsule, tablet, powder, or liquid form. Although these supplements may not be effective for everyone, they are risk-free to try due to their lack of serious negative effects.

Outlook

Joint discomfort is frequently caused by injury caused by normal wear and tear. It could, however, indicate an infection or potentially serious RA.

If you experience unexplained joint discomfort, consult your doctor right immediately, especially if it doesn’t go away after a few days. Early discovery and diagnosis can help you treat the underlying cause of your discomfort effectively.

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