, which is also called arthralgia, has a multitude of causes and can be remarkably difficult to live with. Joint
pain affects nearly everyone at some point in their life, and can range from mild to severe. Joint pain can affect the daily life so dramatically that the individual requires assistance to perform everyday tasks.
JOINT PAIN SYMPTOMS
The symptoms of joint pain include tenderness when touched, swelling
, inflammation, bruising, and difficulty using the affected extremity or area. Joint pain can last anywhere from a few hours to a lifetime depending on the cause and the treatment.
JOINT PAIN CAUSES
Joint pain can be cause from injury, stress from overuse, disease, degeneration, fractures
, tendon or ligament tears, pulls, strains, or sprains
, steroid withdrawal, tumors, or cartilage damage. Joint pain that is incident related such as trauma, injury, or stress can be alleviated in a relatively short period of time with proper treatment. Joint pain which stems from disease may be life long.
JOINT PAIN RISK FACTOR
Almost anyone can be at risk for joint pain. Athletes to children to adults to the elderly are all at risk for joint pain from injury, although some people are at a higher risk for trauma to a joint. The childhood disease known as osteogenesis imperfecta, also called brittle bone
disease, puts an afflicted child at greater risk for broken bones
and the related pain.
Image: Joint pain
This disease can range from mild, which the child looks and acts normal but has weakened bone strength and may break bones with everyday falls. Severe cases involve disfigurement and a bone structure so weak that touch or rolling over in bed can break a bone. Osteoporosis
can lead to broken bones and the related joint pain in older individuals. Those who place themselves at risk for injury through risky behavior such as extreme sports are at a higher risk for bone injury and joint pain than those who aren’t involved in athletic engagement. Obesity
places some at risk for joint pain due to overloading the knees and ankles and causing stress.
JOINT PAIN DIAGNOSIS
Joint pain itself does not require diagnosis, however diagnosing the cause of joint pain can be very simple to very complicated. X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging
, bone scans, blood
tests, urine tests, and a physical examination can all help determine the cause of joint pain. Abnormalities such as tumors, fractures, dislocations, and bone bruises are likely to show up on x-rays or MRI
tests. Diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis
, lupus, gout
, or infections are likely to show up in blood and urine tests. It may take several different tests before a physician can narrow down the source of the joint pain. A thorough patient medical history should help direct the physician in where to look for the source of joint pain.
Undiagnosed and untreated joint pain may very well continue to get worse, sometimes to the point of loss of mobility. Treating joint pain with medication for a long period of time can result in narcotic dependency and withdrawal symptoms. Pain is often an indicator of damage, and if joint pain worsens over time, damage may be worsening as well. These complication related to joint pain are best dealt with by an osteopathic physician.
JOINT PAIN TREATMENT
Treatment options vary as do the causes of joint pain. Medication can alleviate the symptoms but do not typically treat the source. Common medication for joint pain include acetaminophen
, narcotic pain relievers such as oxycodone, percocet, or methadone
, anti-inflammatory medication such as Anaprox
, or over the counter or prescription NSAIDs. Physical therapy may be prescribed with certain types of joint pain, either instead of attempting a surgical procedure or both before and after a surgical procedure. Surgery can offer relief from joint pain, once the pain of surgery has subsided.
, shots of an anti-inflammatory injected directly into the joint, may provide temporary relief from joint pain. Most joints
can be replaced to alleviate the pain. Synthetic joints only last between ten to fifteen years, thus this may not be a good option for people under the age of 50. When joint pain is caused by disease, treating the disease as well as the joint pain can offer long term relief.
Self care is vital when it comes to joint pain. Athletes are taught to “push past the pain,” however when it comes to joint pain, pushing past the pain may be causing damage. Restricting activity to tolerable levels is a vital step in managing joint pain. Stretching, following through on therapy programs, and using alternative methods of pain treatment such as TENS units, heat and ice, or even pain patches can make a huge difference. Arthritis
pain gets worse when the patient sits still for long periods of time.
Coping with joint pain can be very difficult and frustrating. Finding interesting activities which do not aggravate the pain can help to alleviate the frustration. Using various methods to keep in shape can also help to control the pain and control frustration. Finding a good osteopathic doctor that carries a good reputation can make all the difference in the world.