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Joint Pain

In order to effectively treat joint pain, the underlying cause must be identified.

Joint pain can be caused by the wrong shoes -- or something more serious. [©Shutterstock, 2010]
©Shutterstock, 2010
Joint pain can be caused by the wrong shoes -- or something more serious.

Joint Pain

Joint pain is a common condition that affects people of all ages. Pain can be mild and result from an injury, or it can be caused by a chronic condition wherein sufferers deal with pain on a daily basis. Although some cases of joint pain are mild and do not require medical attention, the degree of pain varies. Some people who experience joint pain even have difficulty completing everyday tasks. However, there are ways to deal with chronic joint pain. The key is identifying the underlying cause and choosing the best treatment option.

Causes of Joint Pain

Several medical conditions cause joint pain. In most cases, joint pain is due to inflammation in the joints and bones. Arthritis is the most common cause of joint pain. Arthritic conditions that cause agonizing joint pain include rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease characterized by joint pain and stiffness; and osteoarthritis, a condition that weakens the cartilage around the joints. According to MedlinePlus, symptoms of osteoarthritis develop during middle age, and most people show signs of degeneration by the age of 70.

Joint pain can occur in any part of the body. The most common joint pain locations include the ankle, neck, knee, shoulder, hands, hips and feet. Although arthritis is a top underlying cause, other conditions can cause mild-to-severe joint pain. These include autoimmune diseases such as chronic fatigue syndrome, sarcoidosis and lupus. Lyme disease, a tick-borne illness, can also cause joint pain and swelling. And in rare cases, joint pain can indicate a more serious health problem such as bone cancer.

Joint Pain Treatment Options

Treatment options for joint pain vary and depend largely on the cause of inflammation. To treat joint pain caused by injury, applying cold therapy and taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication can ease discomfort. Individuals who suffer from chronic joint pain may have to rely on prescription medications and make lifestyle changes.

Exercise is proven to ease joint pain. A regular workout can strengthen weak muscles and joints, improve flexibility, boost energy level and stop joint pain. Not exercising has the opposite effect; and persons who fail to adopt a regular workout routine are at greater risk for broken bones. Various exercises are recommended for joint pain sufferers. These include range of motion workouts, strength training and aerobics. According to the Mayo Clinic, 20 to 30 minutes of aerobic workouts 3 times a week increase stamina and improves joint health.

Ways to Prevent Joint Pain

According to Veterans' Health, there are more than 100 diseases that cause joint pain or inflammation. Pinpointing the exact cause of joint pain is challenging, and doctors normally order a series of lab tests and X-rays to identify the cause. While doctors may not be able to completely cure the cause of joint pain, there are ways to prevent future pain, or at least minimize the degree of pain. Managing the disease with physical and occupational therapies can stop pain. And although exercise and physical activity is critical to joint flexibility and energy, sufferers have to know their personal limitations and rest when necessary. A healthy diet that includes fish, vegetables and fruits can stop inflammation. As well, vitamin supplements, such as glucosamine, fish oil, Vitamin D and calcium, are proven to strengthen joint cartilage and lessen joint inflammation.

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