Pain of the joint, otherwise known as arthritis or arthralgia, is discomfort that arises from the point where two or more bones touch. The severity of joint pain can range from mild, with tenderness each time the joint is moved, to moderate, where the pain interferes with daily activities, to severe, when the joint is immobilized.
Causes of Joint Pain
Joint pain has many causes; some common culprits are:
Often, a painful joint can be treated at home. Some warnings that you need to seek the care of a physician are any swelling, warmth or redness around the joint. If injured, seek help as soon as possible if a pop or a snap is heard or felt during the injury, if the joint swells suddenly, there is significant pain, or the joint looks deformed. Inability to use the joint, or walking with a limp requires medical attention.
Home Care for Pain
Mild pain can be treated at home with the following tips: R.I.C.E. or rest, ice, compression and elevation are key for new injuries. Elevate the extremity on a pillow, do not put pressure on the joint, wrap a sports bandage around the affected joint, moving from the most distant part of the extremity toward the body, and apply ice several times per day, for 15-20 minutes each time. An over-the-counter pain reliever such as ibuprofen or naproxen sodium can relieve pain and inflammation.
When to Seek Medical Attention:
Severe pain, loss of color or bluish color to the extremity, inability to feel a pulse, such as no pulse felt on the top of the foot after an ankle injury, and numbness or tingling are all warning signs of a medical emergency. Please seek help immediately if any of these signs and symptoms are noted.
Older pain: Heat is best
For pain from older injuries, pack the ice away in the freezer. It is a good idea to switch to heat, such as from a heating pad. Include ibuprofen or naproxen sodium. If the pain persists, or worsens, it is time to be evaluated by your physician.
For pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis, there are many home remedies available. Heat is a great way to reduce pain. Try a heating pad, or soaking the joint in a bath of warm water. Alternative medicine is another good option. Acupuncture is reported as being a pain reliever, by boosting endorphins in the bloodstream, naturally easing pain. Exercises and physical activity are vital. It may seem like the last thing on your mind, but movement causes pain relief and increases muscular strength. Consider taking pain medication on a schedule, rather than letting the pain build up. It is much more difficult to relieve pain that has gotten out of hand than to stay on top of it. Meditation is an effective skill to learn for better comfort. Try to stay active, and find activities to distract your mind from the discomfort.
Whatever the cause, joint discomfort can be frustrating, limiting movement and interfering with your daily routine. Fortunately there is help available, and many options for pain control. Dr Hua Ming Siow expertises in Joint Pain and Arthritis Management.