Joint pain can be caused by any number of factors, from old age to overwork, to stress, to physical injury. This pain can be a significant influence on our day-to-day lives, and it is important to seek treatment if you start to become debilitated in any way by the irritation.
There are many different approaches to helping to ease joint pain, the majority of which can be split into two categories: joint pain medication and joint pain treatment.
We’ll start by discussing the most frequently used option, joint pain medication.
Analgesics are a class of drugs that combat pain without affecting any inflammation that may be present. The most commonly used of these drugs are over-the-counter medications like Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Ultracet (tramadol), but stronger alternatives are available, including oxycodone or hydrocodone.
The majority of over-the-counter analgesics have very few or minor side effects if taken as directed. Stronger medications can be more dangerous and may be addictive.
2. Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
As the main alternative to analgesics, NSAIDs are also capable of combatting pain but with the added advantage of reducing inflammation at the same time. The most common NSAID medication is the over-the-counter drug ibuprofen, which is also known by a range of brand names including Advil and Motrin IB. Some stronger NSAIDs can also be used, but these medications require prescriptions.
Many types of NSAIDs are taken as oral drugs, which can cause stomach irritation in some patients. There is also the possibility of these drugs increasing your risk of heart attack or stroke.
A stronger alternative than either analgesics or NSAIDs, corticosteroids suppress the immune system (which is often the cause of inflammation and joint pain) and in so doing reduces any inflammation present. While some of these drugs may be taken orally, corticosteroids can often be injected directly into the joint causing pain.
When used in the short term, corticosteroids have few side effects. However, when used for longer periods of time, they can lead to high blood pressure, fragile bones and skin, weight gain, and diabetes.
If you are ineligible for these types of medication or have found these measures are insufficient to reduce your pain completely, alternatives are available for joint pain treatment.
4. Physical Therapy
While physical therapy might not work for all patients, a lot of people with joint pain have experienced an increased range of movement and strength after working with a physical therapist. The techniques used during physio allow you to strengthen the muscles in the affected area and can help to reduce the build-up of fluid caused by inactivity.
Even for patients taking the medications described above, it is often advisable to spend time doing physical therapy to ensure you keep the affected joint active.
If more minor measures such as medication and physio aren’t working for you, your doctor might suggest you undergo surgery. The nature of this surgery will depend on the physical issue causing you pain; for example, if the pain is the result of a badly damaged bone, you might be eligible for joint replacement.
Alternatively, if the damage is more minor, it might be possible to undergo joint repair, which is a much less invasive procedure and has a shorter recovery time.
The important factor in all these possible treatments is to find the solution that works for you.