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Joint pain is a common condition that can be caused by a variety of different things. It happens more often as we age, and it can interfere with sleep, mobility, and overall quality of life. In this blog, the health-care providers at Performance Health in NYC explain more about joint pain and how it can be identified and treated:
What is joint pain?
Joints form connections between your bones, and they help provide support and allow you to move. Joint pain can affect any of the structures surrounding the joint, including ligaments, bursae, or tendons, as well as the ligaments, cartilage, or bones that make up the joint.
Any joint can be affected by pain, especially the knees, shoulders, and hips. It can last for a few weeks or linger for months. The pain might be irritating, more severe, or even debilitating, and it can affect your mobility and quality of life. In addition to the pain, you may also experience associated tenderness, loss of motion, warmth in the joint, stiffness (or even locking), or weakness.
How can you tell if it’s joint pain or something else you’re experiencing?
A visit to the doctor will confirm whether it’s actually a joint problem that’s causing your pain, and he or she can also determine what’s causing your symptoms. Your doctor can determine what’s causing the pain by talking to you about your symptoms and medical history, as well as ordering any tests needed to confirm or rule out a diagnosis.
A doctor’s visit is important, since it allows for continuing treatment if your joint pain is caused by an ongoing issue such as arthritis. It can also help you keep from further injuring the affected joint.
What can joint pain be a sign of?
Joint pain can have many different causes, including the following:
- Cancer of the joint (rarely)
- Reaction to medication: especially antibiotics
- Gout: caused by the build up of uric acid, and although it often affects the big toe, it can also cause pain in other joints like the ankles and knees
- Sarcoidosis: an inflammatory condition
- Lyme disease: transmitted by ticks
- Fibromyalgia: believed to be caused by an inflammatory response that sends out pain signals throughout your body
How can you alleviate joint pain?
Your doctor will treat the condition that’s causing your pain, as well as the symptoms it’s causing. Treatment types may include one or more of the following:
- Medication: frequently nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Advil), naproxen sodium (Aleve), or aspirin; also antidepressants or muscle relaxants
- Creams: Capsaicin cream can help block a substance that transmits pain signals and increase endorphins, which block pain
- Injections: including steroids and/or removing fluid from the joint
- Physical therapy: including exercises to strengthen and stabilize the joint while improving your range of motion; and ultrasound or heat or cold therapy
- Weight loss: can help take pressure off a painful joint
- Self-care: applying ice, using a brace or wrap, resting the joint, using a compression wrap, elevating the joint above your heart
If you are suffering from joint pain, the first step to improving your health and returning to your normal activities is to schedule an evaluation at Performance Health. Our physicians are experts in foot and knee injuries and can help you get back to performance-level health. Call one of our New York offices at 212.486.8616, or fill out a form on this page to request an appointment now.