If you have joint pain, you are not alone. Over 55 million people in the United States suffer from joint pain or osteoarthritis (OA). Joint pain may be challenging to live with, and there are many risk factors for common injuries that may lead to this type of pain and other issues like arthritis.
This article will cover the most common risks associated with joint pain and how these factors may increase your chances of developing chronic conditions such as osteoarthritis.
What Is Joint Pain?
Let us first address what joint pain is. In short, it is a common condition that involves discomfort or soreness in any of your body’s joints. The most commonly affected joints are the knees, hands, and hips.
People often think joint pain and arthritis mean the same thing, but they don’t. Arthritis refers to conditions that cause inflammation of one or more joints. However, there are many different types of arthritis, such as osteoarthritis (wear-and-tear arthritis), rheumatoid arthritis (an autoimmune disease), and psoriatic arthritis (associated with psoriasis).
Joint pain may occur due to an inflammatory condition such as arthritis; however, other causes do not involve inflammation.
Why Is It Important To Me?
Although joint pain is a common condition, it may affect your quality of life. For example:
- It isn’t easy to perform daily activities, such as walking or picking up objects from the floor.
- Chronic joint pain may increase your risk for depression and anxiety.
- Joint pain may result in impaired mobility and loss of independence.
- Severe cases of joint pain may require surgery or other medical treatments that carry their risks and complications.
Joint pain may also indicate more severe conditions, including arthritis, osteoarthritis, or gout. Identifying the underlying cause is essential to developing the right treatment plan for you.
What Are The Symptoms Of Joint Pain?
Symptoms of joint pain may vary from person to person. The most common include the following:
Pain And Tenderness
It is often the first symptom associated with joint pain. The affected joint may feel sore when applying light pressure or moving it in specific ways. You also might feel a sharp or burning pain, especially if you’re active. If the pain lasts for more than a week or two, talk with your doctor about treatment options.
Your joints might get more prominent if they are swollen because of inflammation. For example, your hands might look puffy and red if you have arthritis in this area due to inflammation.
Some types of arthritis might make it difficult for you to bend and move your joints. For example, rheumatoid arthritis often causes stiffness in the morning that lasts for 30 minutes or longer 10.
Redness And Warmth
A red, warm rash on one side of your body could mean that you might have an infection such as septic arthritis. It occurs when bacteria enter the bloodstream and travel to an arthritic joint.
Loss Of Range Of Motion
You might experience a decreased range of motion if your joints become too stiff and inflamed to move easily. This may cause difficulty finding comfortable positions while sitting or standing at rest.
Should I Panic When I Have Joint Pain?
When’s the last time you felt joint pain? If it has been more than a week or you noticed any accompanying symptoms such as fever, redness, swelling, or warmth—see your doctor. It’s vital to remember that the way you feel today may not be how you feel tomorrow. One symptom may quickly go from seemingly benign to requiring immediate action.
For those with a history of joint pain, it’s even more critical for you to see a doctor immediately. Likewise, those with compromised immune systems should also pay attention to their joints. If any of these apply to you and you feel pain—see your doctor right away!
Joint pain symptoms should be treated as seriously as possible since they could indicate something far more dangerous than simply sore muscles or overworked bones. Remember, it is always imperative to consult a doctor expert in rheumatology if you have joint pain symptoms.
5 Risks Related To Joint Pain
Have you ever suffered from joint pain? It turns out your body is telling you something. Here are five risks associated with joint pain that might be linked to the problem.
- Overweight Or Obesity
Having a higher body weight means that you have to work harder to get around and use your joints more often than someone who has a lower weight. This may put extra stress on the joints, leading to swelling, stiffness, and pain.
This is especially true for older adults with joint pain because age-related changes in your muscles, bones, and cartilage may increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis. OA is the most common form of arthritis in Canada, affecting about 1 in 10 Canadians. It causes pain, stiffness, and loss of joint movement over time.
With obesity, some areas of your body will carry more weight than others. For example, if you are overweight and take most of your weight on your hips or thighs, which stresses these areas.
Inactivity is another factor in developing joint pain. Exercise is essential in preventing and managing joint pain, so it’s imperative to stay active if you have arthritis or other conditions that affect your joints.
If you are inactive for long periods, your joints’ muscles become weak. That said, muscles provide less support for your joints, making them more prone to injury and pain. Moreover, weak muscles lead to poor posture and increase stress on certain joints like your lower back, neck, hip, and knee. Reduced range of motion also contributes to poor posture and increases pressure on painful areas of the body.
Physical activity may help maintain strong muscles that support the joint and prevent injuries by increasing flexibility and balance. Regular physical activity helps keep joint cartilage healthy by allowing synovial fluid (the viscous substance that nourishes the cartilage) to circulate through the area around your joint during movement.
If you have persistent or severe arthritis pain, consult your most trusted doctor about what types of activities are safe for you before starting any exercise program.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do to control your genetic risk factor. But it’s still essential that you know what they are and if they’re affecting your health. Suppose you have a family history of osteoarthritis, for example. In that case, you may be at a higher risk of developing osteoarthritis as well.
Similarly, suppose one of your parents developed rheumatoid arthritis when they were young. In that case, you may be more likely to develop the condition yourself. Genetic factors may also affect the risk of developing different types of arthritis. For example, while genetics play a role in some people with lupus, other environmental factors may trigger the disease in others.
Therefore, talk to your doctor if you have a family history that increases your risk of arthritis or joint pain overall. They may be able to offer ways for you to manage your symptoms or prevent problems from developing later on in life.
Among the most common causes of joint pain is injury. Injuries may affect ligaments, tendons, or cartilage in the joint and lead to pain, swelling, and stiffness. With that said, your doctor may advise you to take an x-ray procedure to check your condition. Injuries that may lead to joint pain include:
Strains Or Sprains
Sprains result when ligaments (the tissue that connects two bones in a joint) are overstretched or torn. Commonly, they occur where ligaments cross over an outer bone (such as the ankle), and the tear might be partial or complete.
On the other hand, a joint strain is tearing ligaments and tendons, which connect muscles to bones. The knee and lower back are two of the most common locations for strains. Because the symptoms are very similar, the conditions are often confused.
When a dislocation happens, one bone in the joint moves out of place. This typically occurs when your joint is hit hard enough with sufficient force to knock it out of position.
For example, both bones are forced apart at the knee joint in a knee dislocation. This causes severe damage to the supportive structures around the knee, including ligaments and tendons and articular cartilage on either end of each bone (end of femur/thigh bone and top of tibia/shinbone).
A fracture may happen if you fall hard on your knee or land on your foot awkwardly. For example, any sudden impact may cause cracks (fractures) in bones around your joints. A doctor may recommend an immediate x-ray examination if this occurs.
- Old Age
The older you are, the more likely you will experience joint pain.
Why? Well, with age comes wear and tear on your joints. As you get older, your bones naturally lose some of their density. This makes it harder for them to withstand stress from everyday activities.
Moreover, the cartilage that cushions your joints also gets weaker and more brittle over time. That may cause your bones to rub together during movement—leading to pain and swelling in the affected area.
In addition, osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis that causes bone spurs (extra bone) to form on the joints, leading to joint pain. It’s also common for osteoarthritis patients to lose some or all of the cartilage between their joints—which may be painful when they put pressure on the affected area by standing or walking.
What Can I Do To Avoid Joint Pain?
Joint pain is most likely everyone will have at some point in their lives. But it doesn’t have to be a lifelong affliction. Here are some tips to help you avoid or lessen the misery as you age.
- Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial to reducing the risk of joint pain. Overweight people are five times more likely to suffer from knee pain, as excess weight puts pressure on the knees.
- Lack of exercise also contributes significantly to joint pain risk. Regular exercise strengthens your muscles and keeps them flexible, which helps prevent strains and relieves stress on joints.
- Smoking constricts blood vessels, restricting blood flow and oxygen delivery to your bones and muscles. This may worsen existing conditions or cause new ones due to a lack of proper nutrition.
- Lack of sleep may amplify many physical problems, including joint pain. Sleep is when the body repairs itself, so be sure you’re getting enough rest each night!
- Good posture increases flexibility by preventing prolonged pressure on any muscle group or area of the body. Additionally, practicing good posture reduces stress on your muscles and joints during everyday movements such as lifting or sitting at a desk for an extended period.
Home Remedies For Joint Pain
If you have joint pain, you may be tempted to give your muscles a rest. However, this is the worst thing you may do for your joints. They need to stay moving. Try doing low-impact exercises such as walking, swimming, or cycling. You should feel them getting stronger within a few weeks. Several things may help with joint pain:
- use an ice pack to relieve inflammation in the joint
- Use heat therapy to relieve stiffness and relax muscles.
- Take anti-inflammatory medications (e.g., ibuprofen)
- Wear a brace on the affected area if it feels weak (e.g., knee braces).
- Use assistive devices like canes and walkers when necessary – they will keep weight off your joints while providing support, so they stay strong!
Another vital part of treating arthritis is eating healthy foods that promote good bone health. For example, eat calcium-rich dairy products or leafy greens like kale or collard greens, which contain vitamin C, which helps fight inflammation and reduce symptoms of osteoarthritis.
Joint pain is a common issue among the general public. Whether caused by injury or disease, joint pain may be a severe problem limiting your ability to be active and affecting your quality of life. If you’re worried about future joint issues or require treatment for existing problems, book an appointment with EG Healthcare.