Your joints are one of the most critical parts of your body. They connect your bones together, and they help you move throughout your day. Damage to these joints from injuries can cause joint pain and keep you from enjoying your favorite activities like dancing, running, gardening, and more.
Do you find yourself asking, “why do I have joint pain?” or do you wonder why the pain won’t go away? If this sounds like you, there is no need to worry. This brief joint pain guide will cover why you have joint pain and the several different ways to reduce your symptoms.
Common Causes of Joint Pain
Many people experience pain in their joints due to arthritis which is a group of conditions caused by inflammation in the joints. The most common type of arthritis is called osteoarthritis, which is caused by the breakdown of cartilage in your body as you age. For others, their source of joint pain may come from an injury or an infection of the joints.
Other reasons people suffer from joint pain:
- Poor posture
- Long periods of inactivity
Managing joint pain is not as simple as doing a few exercises or taking pain medication. There are many different available treatment options that you can try, and depending on the severity of your pain, you may benefit from a combination of treatments. In addition to arthritis and osteoarthritis, there are other causes for different types of joint pain, such as gout and bursitis.
Bursitis happens when your bursae get inflamed. Your bursae is a fluid-filled sac that cushions the muscles, bones, and tendons near your joints. You can find the bursae in your shoulder, knee, hip, and elbows.
Gout is another common cause of arthritis that can cause severe pain in a joint. This usually occurs around your foot, ankle, or your toe.
Inflammation and pain are typically caused by too many uric acid deposits in the affected joint. The first symptoms of gout are painful and sudden swelling that often occurs at night. When gout flares up, it usually turns your skin red.
Patella Femoral Pain Syndrome
Patella Femoral Pain Syndrome, also known as PFPS, occurs in the kneecap. Your doctor can diagnose you with PFPS by observing the cartilage in your knee to see if there is a rough or a soft spot.
PFPS was called runner’s knee, chondromalacia patella, or dashboard knee in the past. Patella Femoral Pain Syndrome symptoms are stiffness and a feeling of grinding in the knee. Most patients with this type of joint pain have a more challenging time going up and down stairs, and squatting is very uncomfortable.
Deep in your shoulder are a group of muscles and tendons that make up what is called a rotator cuff. These tendons help stabilize your upper arm bone in the shoulder joint and allow you to rotate your arm freely.
If you raise your arm repeatedly over your head, the tendons rub against the underside of your bone and can quickly become irritated. This will cause your tendons to swell, causing friction between your tendons and shoulder bone.
Joint Pain Treatment Options
If you experience joint pain and you have no idea why the first step is to check in with your doctor. You may have an underlying health condition such as a bone fracture or a muscle strain.
Before you self-treat, be sure to see your doctor to rule out any other possibilities. If they are able to diagnose you with arthritis early, you can better manage your condition. For example, depending on the type of joint pain you have, your doctor may recommend oral or topical medications or surgery.
Medication for Joint Pain
Your doctor may suggest that you treat your joint pain with pain and anti-inflammatory medication. For example, they may prescribe you ibuprofen or naproxen to alleviate pain and reduce inflammation.
These over-the-counter medications may serve as a temporary solution, but it is not recommended to take ibuprofen for long periods of time. Ibuprofen and other types of over-the-counter medications can cause stomach ulcers.
Additional oral medication:
- Oral steroids such as cortisone and prednisone
Again, taking specific over-the-counter medications, such as acetaminophen, for a long time can lead to stomach ulcers and liver damage or liver failure. If you already take blood-thinning medication, you may want to avoid taking aspirin since it can possibly thin your blood. Before you take any oral medication, be sure to check in with your doctor to ensure that you can take them and that they won’t interact with any other medicines you take.
Receive a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis or some other type of systemic disease. Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs may be able to help to slow down the progression of your rheumatoid arthritis. It also can slow joint damage.
Receiving injections such as hyaluronic acid injections or steroid joint injections can reduce inflammation and provide you with pain relief. Steroid injections help reduce swelling in your joints, but they do wear off after some time. Your doctor can also only provide you with a certain number of shots per year.
Physical therapy is an excellent way to treat joint pain because it improves your range of motion and can strengthen the muscles around the joint. This will help minimize overall pain and stiffness.
During your physical therapy session, your physical therapist will provide you with a series of stretching and strengthening exercises that you should do on a daily basis. Depending on your level of joint pain, they may also recommend that you wear a brace, especially if you have knee pain. The brace will help with function and stability.
Several different types of over-the-counter topical analgesics can help numb the joint area. Your doctor may prescribe you a topical medication containing lidocaine or salicylate. Keep in mind that although this may provide temporary relief, if you have severe joint pain, you may want to speak with your doctor about other available options.
As mentioned earlier, you may need surgery depending on the severity of your joint pain or what is causing your joint pain. Of course, because this is a very invasive procedure, most doctors use this option as a last resort to relieve your joint pain. Surgery is usually reserved for those with hip or knee osteoarthritis who have not responded well to other treatment types.
If your joint pain is severe, you may need a total joint replacement. For cases that aren’t as severe, your doctor may recommend osteotomy, which is a surgery that entails cutting and re-shaping bones to ease pressure on your joints.
Alternative Pain Treatment Options
If you are someone who does not want to take over-the-counter oral medications, steroid injections, or surgery, there are still options available for you. Changing up your lifestyle can significantly improve your joint pain, especially if you change your diet.
Eating a diet rich in vegetables, whole grains, and fruit can help reduce your joint pain symptoms. Studies show that a diet rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids can prevent inflammation.
Examples of antioxidants and omega-3 rich foods:
- Chia seeds
- Dark chocolate
There are other types of foods out there that are rich in antioxidants that you can eat. If you have any dietary restrictions or are allergic to certain foods, be sure to talk to a medical professional to see what alternative foods are available for you. If you decide to eat healthier, make sure that you also cut out any processed foods with trans or saturated fats.
Hot and Cold Therapy
Another great way to reduce stiffness in your joints is to alternate between cold and hot treatments. Taking warm baths or showers in the morning can help relieve stiffness in your joints before going about your day.
When it is time for bed, you can sleep with a heating pad or an electric heated blanket. Be sure to take breaks when using heat to avoid heat exhaustion.
Cold treatments are also excellent at relieving inflammation in your joints. You can wrap the injured area with a gel ice pack and a towel for twenty minutes at a time. If you have time, you can switch between using the ice pack and a heated towel to relieve the swelling further.
Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy
Platelet-rich plasma therapy (PRP) is another effective and reliable way to treat joint and soft tissue injuries. As mentioned earlier, there are several different reasons why people have joint pain. It could be from arthritis or injuries from running or participating in sports. Regardless of what caused the joint pain, this regenerative cellular medicine approach can help heal those affected tissues quickly.
What is Regenerative Cellular Medicine?
Regenerative cellular medicine takes stem cells from one area of your body and then injects them into an injured area of your body. This type of approach uses stem cells because they are responsible for regenerating and rebuilding the body.
Stem cells are living cells that can transform themselves into functional cells or different tissue types. Because of this, we can place these stem cells into tendons, nerves, cartilage, bones, and more since it is able to differentiate into those parts of your body.
Naturally, when you sustain an injury, your body releases stem cells to rebuild damaged cartilage, muscles, and joints. When you inject stem cells directly into those damaged areas in your body, it can accelerate your body’s natural healing process.
How Does PRP Work?
Out blood consists mainly of plasma which carries white and red blood cells and platelets. Platelet-rich plasma therapy is created by drawing some of your blood and putting it in a centrifuge to concentrate the platelets.
This concentrated sample is then combined with your original blood sample before it is injected back into your body at the site of your pain. Results typically don’t happen instantly, but studies show that your inflammation will reduce over time.
Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy Benefits
Until recently, treatment options for joint pain were limited to over-the-counter or prescribed medication. The other alternatives were surgery or steroid injections, but those types of treatments, in the long run, tend to hurt the body instead of helping it.
Top benefits of platelet-rich plasma therapy:
- Minimal post-procedural recovery time
- No need for general anesthesia
- Minimally invasive procedure
- Pain reduction
- Increased function and mobility
- No risk of rejection because you’re using your own stem cells
Your body has the potential to heal itself, so long as you are willing to help it and provide it with a way to do so. Stem cell injections are excellent not only for relieving pain but also in helping heal your joint. Instead of you treating the pain, you’re treating the actual problem with PRP.
Relieve Pain and Inflammation Today
Now that you know about the many different causes of joint pain, it’s time to take your life back. No one likes to go about their day taking breaks or taking medication only to put a band-aid on the nagging pain.
Instead, you can use regenerative cellular medicine to give your body back what it needs to heal itself on its own. Contact us now if you are ready to give your body the power to relieve joint pain. Our team is fully prepared to answer any questions or concerns you may have about the process.