Joint Pain: How to Manage

Patients commonly experience joint pain in the fingers, hips, knees, and wrists. Achy joints are quite common and can be caused by several triggers including osteoporosis, inflammation, injury, fibromyalgia, osteoporosis, overuse of the joint(s), and arthritis. 

For example, over 50 million Americans are impacted by arthritis, according to the Arthritis Foundation. Rheumatoid arthritis, more common in women than in men, is the most common cause of sore joints. Osteoarthritis (OA), psoriatic arthritis (PsA), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and gout are the most common forms of arthritic conditions. 

We can all take steps to prevent joint pain before it begins. By maintaining a healthy body weight and reducing our risk of injury (including repetitive stress injury caused by overuse of our joints), we reduce our risk of developing joint pain later in life. Forming healthy habits such as getting enough sleep, staying hydrated, and managing stress can help reduce inflammation. Reducing environmental toxins and allergens can decrease the stimulation of the immune system. Finally, balancing the hormones and gut biome can improve symptoms by alleviating stress on many of the body systems, all of which are interconnected and many of which can be affected by inflammation.

Athletes can avoid injury by following safety measures and using proper body mechanics while competing or playing sports. Proper ergonomics and posture will also make a difference in preventing joint pain and injury. Naturopathic doctors may also elect to evaluate for vitamin D deficiency, which affects bone and joint health. Improvement of joint function involves slowing the loss of cartilage and, ideally, restoring the quantity of cartilage within the joint space. 

If you experience regular or chronic joint pain, no matter the cause, your naturopathic doctor can help to determine the root cause of the pain and decide which treatment(s) will be most effective for reducing or eliminating that pain.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is becoming more mainstream as a pain management practice and therapeutic treatment for many conditions, including anxiety, depression, asthma, endometriosis, and mental health issues. It could prove to be a very effective treatment for managing your joint pain, regardless of the cause.

Cold or Hot Compresses

Cold or hot compresses may be able to provide some relief if your pain is caused by inflammation. Apply a cold compress for only 15 minutes at a time. Wrap an ice pack in a towel first if the cold is irritating to your skin. A hot compress may also be wrapped in a towel to protect the skin if necessary.

Diet

Diet can play an important role in joint pain improvement. Berries have been shown to reduce inflammation. Turmeric is another anti-inflammatory food. Bone broth and other collagen-rich foods can have a positive impact on joint structures and pain reduction. Salmon, olive oil, cherries, garlic, spinach, kale, and honey are all inflammation-fighting superfoods and may be suggested as part of an anti-inflammatory diet.

Moderate Exercise

Moderate exercise, including gentle stretching, could help increase joint mobility and reduce pain in the problem areas. Begin with very small, gentle movements and stretches, and increase each day depending on how your body feels. Your naturopathic doctor can be an advisor and monitor as you start your exercise regimen.

Physical Manipulation

Physical manipulation such as chiropractic medicine may be recommended by your physician, depending on whether or not the root cause of your pain or discomfort is a structural imbalance. Your physician may also want to assess physical aspects of your daily life, such as ergonomics and sleeping positions.

If you are experiencing any time of joint pain or reduction in joint mobility, reach out to your naturopathic doctor for an assessment. When it comes to your joints, it is wise to start treatment sooner than later.

Build Health. Live Well.

March 5, 2024

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