If you are reading this, and happen to be over the age of fifteen, chances are that you’ve felt joint pain before. When you feel joint pain, you realize how much you take pain-free freedom of movement for granted. There are so many joints in your body and each is subject to aches and pains at some point in our life, but the common ones that seem to bother people are knees and hands, followed by feet and shoulders.
When you first start feeling pain in one of your joints, your first reaction will be to wonder what happened, and why. In order to begin this voyage of self-discovery, you should first know that while there are many possible causes to the pain, they usually do fall into one of two broad categories. The first is injuries or strains. The second category, is a variety of medical conditions which can then be subdivided into two smaller groups. Chronic conditions (such as arthritis) cause inflammation in the joint, and are long-term ailments. Acute attacks from infection by bacteria or viruses also can cause pain and inflammation in the joints. These are most often short-lived and the pain will abate as soon as the infection passes. Sometimes finding out what category your pain falls into is easy, other times it is hard to tell and you will want to visit a professional as soon as possible.
Injuries to joints can occur in the obvious ways such as sports injuries, or work related injuries. Some exceptions are unusual, such as a fall, or simply stepping off of a curb awkwardly. What joint injuries have in common though are that they are usually caused by extending the usual range of motion the joint is capable of, or the ligaments and muscles are flexible enough to handle. It is for this reason that professional athletes and fitness experts take part in regular stretching exercises. The more flexible the muscles and ligaments that support the joint, the less likely you will overextend them. There are cases of direct impact damaging the cartilage, but these instances are rare.
Among the medical conditions that can strike the joints, the one that everyone has probably heard of its arthritis. Arthritis is simply a case of the joints wearing out, which explains why it is usually associated with growing older. The cartilage is gone, so the bones are rubbing against each other instead of being cushioned. This causes pain. It’s probably not news to anyone who’s had a severe case of the flu that when little “nasties” invade your body, it does affect your joints a lot of the time. Personally I always wondered why I ached in my joints when I had the flu. Well, I eventually found the answer. When your body is attacked, it has self-defenses, similar to a little war going on in your body. Some of both sides die, and collect in the blood stream. The blood then carries these casualties and other debris from this battle, and deposits them in your joints. They say it’s always the innocent that suffer in a war.
Besides these more common ailments, there are a few that are less well-known but should also be discussed. You can also find people who suffer from Lupus, and Fibromyalgia. Both of these are chronic conditions, and even resemble arthritis in some respects but have different root causes. I actually have personal experience with Fibromyalgia, as my wife has suffered from it for years. In her case the condition is debilitating, and some days she actually can not even get out of bed.
What about causes? Well for the most part, medical authorities have not been able to pin point the specific causes of many of these conditions. They do seem to find a correlation to genetics. Arthritis they’ve said is just getting old and wearing out. However, there are some activities you should avoid such as too much exercise. Being overweight also puts a lot of extra strain on the joints, and that is a contributing factor not only to joint pain but many other symptoms.
If you are feeling joint pain, of course the first thing you should do is consider consulting a medical professional. Realistically however, there are plenty of people who just can not afford to do this unless it is a matter of life and death. Often this is not the case, so these unfortunate people will suffer with their pain as long as they can take it. Hoping all along it will just go away. We do have some ideas that you can try at home, that might help in these situations:
- Move! The tendency you have when you are in pain is to curl up in the fetal position and wait it out. Okay maybe that’s just me. At any rate, when you are hurting, the last thing you feel like doing is being active. But this is exactly what you should do. If you don’t, your pain will only get worse. Whatever is making your joints swell and hurt is getting there through the systems of your body. In order for these systems to also get rid of any contaminants, they need a little help moving things out. When you move your joints, the bones come into contact and alternately squeeze and release those tiny tubes that carry materials both in and out of your joint area. hondrostrong prospect
- Cold and Hot. Yes this may seem counter intuitive but it works. You probably have used ice or a cold gel pack on a swollen joint or muscle or even your head. You also have seen the success of such products such as Icy Hot. With the joints, they do swell, so it is good to use the cold pack to reduce swelling and inflammation. Once it is back to close to normal however, you should apply heat to stimulate the blood vessels and other body systems. Plus it feels great!
- Massages. Sure, it would be nice if it were possible to massage the cartilage directly, but something that does that hasn’t been invented yet. We can only hope. The muscles, and ligaments near to your ailing joint are also affected by the joint. So massaging them to stimulate the flow of blood helps to reduce recovery time. Yes, it also feels great. Try Thai massage if you can, that has worked wonders for me.
- Over-the-counter medications. Of course a trip to your local pharmacy is not a bad idea. Let the pharmacist know what you are experiencing and I’m sure they will recommend a product that will help. Make sure it is an anti-inflammatory.
Whether you have a chronic condition or an injury, joint pain is not fun at all. Especially if you’re active and find that with this pain you end up just sitting around the house. You’ll go crazy. So do what you can to go see a medical professional at least to find out what is causing it. If that isn’t possible, try to figure out what is causing it, using the categories I’ve outlined here. That’s not going to make you a doctor any time soon, but it sure will help you stop worrying. Keep in mind the remedies that I listed that you can use yourself while at home, they’re cheap and effective. If you do, you might find that dealing with joint pain is a bit easier in the future.
Want to find out more about joint pain, or more specifically foot pain, please visit the foot pain blog
Mick is an entrepreneur, freelance writer and blogger.
Currently he is blogging about foot pain, trying to help those who may not have access to professional advice.