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- TATA AIG Team
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Joint pain is a common problem that affects many people around the world. Various conditions, such as arthritis, bursitis, tendinitis, gout, and more can cause it. Joint pain can interfere with your daily activities and reduce your quality of life.
As per the World Health Organisation, over 20% of the global population is dealing with some form of joint pain.
But how do you know if you have joint pain, and what can you do about it? Let's discuss the joint pain causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.
We will also provide some tips on preventing and coping with this condition.
Types of Joint Paint & Factors Causing Them
Muscle joint pains and bone joint pains are of two general types acute and chronic. Here is a detailed explanation.
Acute Joint Pain
It is a sudden and severe pain in one or more joints. It usually lasts for a few days or weeks and then goes away. The most common causes of this pain are**
Injury A sprain, strain, fracture, or dislocation can damage the ligaments, tendons, bones, or cartilage in your joints, causing pain and inflammation.
Overuse Repeated or excessive use of your joints can lead to wear and tear or micro-tears in the tissues around your joints, causing pain and stiffness.
Infection Bacteria, viruses, or fungi can invade your joints and cause inflammation, swelling, redness, and fever. Some common infections that can affect your joints are septic arthritis, Lyme disease, and viral arthritis.
Flu or COVID-19 These viral infections can cause systemic inflammation in your body, which can affect your joints and cause pain, stiffness, and fatigue.
Chronic Joint Pain
It is a persistent and long-lasting pain in one or more joints. It usually lasts over three months and may only go away partially. Some common chronic joint pain causes are**
Osteoarthritis The most common type of arthritis is when the cartilage that secures your joints breaks down, making the bones rub together. This can contribute to stiffness, pain, and loss of movement in your joints, especially in your knees, hips, hands, and spine.
Rheumatoid arthritis This is a condition where your immune system mistakenly attacks your joints, leading to inflammation, swelling, and damage. They cause pain, stiffness, and deformity in your joints, especially in your hands, wrists, feet, and ankles.
Gout This is a kind of arthritis that happens when uric acid crystals accumulate in your joints, contributing to sudden and severe pain, redness, and swelling. They affect any joint, usually your big toe, ankle, or knee.
Bursitis This is a condition where the bursae, which are small fluid-filled sacs that protect your joints, become inflamed. They cause pain, swelling, and reduced movement in your joints. They are often seen in the shoulder, elbow, hip, or knee.
Tendinitis This is an inflammation of the tendons, which are the cords that connect your muscles to your bones. They result in aches, swelling, and stiffness in your joints, especially in your shoulder, elbow, wrist, or heel.
Joint Pain Symptoms
The joint pain symptoms can differ depending on what causes it, how severe it is, and where it is located.
Some of the common symptoms of bone joint pain are:
Swelling: Your joint may become swollen, inflamed, or enlarged due to fluid accumulation or tissue damage.
Stiffness: Your joint may feel stiff, tight, or hard to move, especially in the morning or after a period of inactivity.
Redness: Your joint may appear red, warm, or flushed due to increased blood flow or infection.
Numbness: Due to nerve compression or damage, your joint may feel numb, tingling, or prickling.
Clicking: Your joint may make a clicking, cracking, or popping sound or sensation due to friction or displacement of the joint components.
Grinding: Your joint may feel like it is grinding, rubbing, or scraping due to erosion or degeneration of the joint surfaces.
The intensity, duration, and frequency of joint pain can vary from person to person. Some people may experience mild, occasional, or short-lived joint pain, while others may suffer from severe, chronic, or long-lasting joint pain. Some factors that can worsen or relieve joint pain include:**
Activity: Your joint pain may increase or decrease depending on your level of physical activity. Running, jumping, lifting, or bending may aggravate your joint pain. Activities like stretching, swimming, or cycling may also alleviate joint pain.
Weather: Your joint pain may change with the weather conditions. Some people may feel more joint pain in cold, damp, or rainy weather, while others may feel less pain in warm, dry, or sunny weather.
Diet: Your joint pain may be affected by your food intake. Some foods may trigger or exacerbate your joint pain, such as red meat, dairy, sugar, alcohol, or caffeine. Other foods may help or prevent your joint ache, such as fish, nuts, fruits, vegetables, or water.
Diagnosis of Joint Pain Diseases
If you have joint pain, the first step is to see your doctor for a proper diagnosis. Here are the tests the doctor may recommend.
Blood tests: These can detect signs of inflammation, infection, or autoimmune diseases, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or fibromyalgia.
X-rays are a type of electromagnetic radiation that can create images of the inside of your body. They can reveal the state of your bones and joints and show any damage or deformity caused by osteoarthritis or injury.
CT scans are an X-ray that combines many images of your body from different angles to create cross-sectional slices of your bones, blood vessels and soft tissues. They can help detect and diagnose diseases such as gout or bone tumours.
MRIs: These can show the condition of your cartilage, ligaments, tendons, and muscles and help diagnose diseases such as bursitis, tendinitis, or myositis.
Ultrasounds can show the condition of your fluid-filled sacs (bursae) and tendons and help diagnose bursitis or tendinitis.
Joint Pain Management Tips
Some lifestyle improvements and home remedies can help you avoid or manage joint pain. These are:
Weight loss: Losing weight can help you lower the stress and strain on your joints if you are overweight. This can also reduce your chance of getting or worsening joint pain.
Exercise: Exercise can help you maintain your joint health, strength, and flexibility and prevent or delay the onset of joint pain. You can do cycling, walking, swimming, or yoga, which do not put too much strain on your joints. Before and after exercising, always warm up and cool down to prevent injuries and soreness. Don't push yourself too hard. Pay attention to your body's signals.
Rest: Rest can help relieve your pain and inflammation and allow your joints to heal. Rest your affected joint when it is painful or swollen, and avoid activities aggravating it. Get ample sleep and avoid stress and anxiety, as they can worsen your joint pain.
Anti-inflammatory foods: Some foods can help you combat inflammation. These foods include fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, fish, olive oil, and spices. You must also avoid inflammation-causing foods, such as processed foods, red meat, dairy products, sugar, and alcohol.
Joint Pain Treatment: Common Medications
NSAIDs: The most common drugs for joint pain are NSAIDs. They stop the production of prostaglandins, which cause inflammation and pain. Some NSAIDs are Aceclofenac, Celecoxib, Ibuprofen, and Naproxen. You can take NSAIDs by mouth or apply them on your skin as gels, creams, or patches.
Corticosteroids: These drugs are derived from the hormone cortisol. They work by suppressing the immune system and reducing the inflammation and pain in the joints. Examples of corticosteroids are Prednisone, Dexamethasone, and Hydrocortisone. Corticosteroids can be taken orally, injected into the joint, or applied topically as creams or ointments.
DMARDs: These are medications that are used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. They slow down the disease process and protect the joints from further harm. Examples of DMARDs are Methotrexate, Leflunomide, Hydroxychloroquine, and Sulfasalazine. DMARDs can take several weeks or months to show their effects, and they require regular blood tests to monitor their safety and efficacy.
Biologics: These are more advanced and newer drugs. They work by affecting specific molecules that are involved in the inflammation process, such as tumour necrosis factor (TNF), interleukin-1 (IL-1), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and B cells.
Surgery: This is the last resort option. Surgery can involve repairing or replacing the damaged joint with an artificial one. The type and extent of surgery depend on the type and location of the joint pain, as well as the patient’s age, health, and preferences. Surgery can provide long-term relief and improvement of joint function, but it can also have complications, such as infection, bleeding, nerve damage, and implant failure.
Joint pain can have various causes and be diagnosed and treated differently. The best way to deal with joint pain is to seek medical attention and adhere to your doctor’s advice. You can also make some lifestyle changes and use some home remedies to prevent or manage joint pain. Doing so can improve your joint health and enjoy a better quality of life.
However, remember that joint pain treatment, especially surgery, can drain your savings. If you do not have a health insurance plan, it might be difficult for you to deal with the treatment expenses.
If you are unaware of health insurance benefits, you need to know a few things about this policy.
Medical insurance covers OPD charges, ICU expenses, AYUSH treatment costs, and many more. Cashless health insurance even allows you to avail of cashless treatment - the insurance company directly settles the bills with the hospital - at any network hospital.
What is the cause of joint pain?
Joint pain can result from various factors, including arthritis, injuries, inflammation, overuse, or underlying medical conditions.
How can I improve my joint pain?
To alleviate joint pain, consider gentle exercises, such as swimming or walking, maintain a healthy weight, and apply hot or cold packs.
Does joint pain go away?
Some types of joint pain, like acute ones, may go away without treatment, while others may persist or worsen over time.
At what age do joints start hurting?
This question has no clear answer, as joint pain can have different causes and affect people differently. However, some factors that can make joint pain more likely as you get older are loss of bone strength and muscle mass, damage to cartilage, inflammation, and injury.
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