Everyday aches and pain can slow us down and leave us feeling not quite ourselves. According to a survey, about one-third of adults reported joint pain as a common occurrence daily. Knee pain is the most common joint pain complaint followed by shoulder, hip and ankle pain.
Here are a few remedies to put the pep back in your step:
Physical therapy comprises several techniques such as a tailored exercise program, ultrasound, electrical nerve stimulation, and manipulation. These techniques help you to stretch and strengthen the muscles around the joint, stabilize the joint and improve range of motion. However, these techniques need to be performed under the guidance of an orthopedic physician or a physical therapist.
Hot and Cold Therapy
Heat is known to improve circulation, flexibility and ease of movement. Applying a heating pad or hot water bottle for short periods several times a day can alleviate the aches and pain. Disposable heat patches and warm showers or baths can also be utilized for heat therapy.
Alternatively, applying an ice wrap or a cold gel pack on the affected area for about 15 minutes, several times each day, can also relieve the pain. A full or partial ice bath can also be another option. Cold therapy ensures slow circulation, less swelling, and dulls pain by numbing nerve endings.
However, heat and cold applications need to be used with care as they can cause skin damage. Always apply over a towel or cloth and never directly on the skin.
Assistive Devices or Supportive Aids
Bracing is a nonsurgical, remedial therapy that involves the use of a brace to provide support to painful joints. The brace is made of plastic or metal padded with synthetic rubber or foam. Bracing offloads stress on a sore joint and reduces pain. However, bracing comes with a few limitations such as discomfort due to the added weight, skin breakdown due to chafing and redness or irritation of the skin.
Splinting is a method of stabilizing the painful joint and protecting it from further damage by using a rigid material. It keeps the affected part from moving and decreases pain. Normally, splinting is for short-term use only.
Casting is a medical process used to support painful joints using an orthopedic device. The cast holds in place and immobilizes the painful joint. Casts are mostly made from plaster or fiberglass. Once applied, the cast needs to be kept clean and dry and placing pressure or weight should be avoided.
A sling is a flexible belt or strap used to support and immobilize a painful joint. Slings are mostly applied for mild to moderate aches and pains.
Walking aids and other assistive devices
If you have hip pain, a cane or a walking stick can be very helpful as it diminishes the load on the hip by reducing the amount of force placed on the injured leg. The cane or the walking stick can alleviate the discomfort from worsening. Likewise, you may benefit from using higher chairs or wearing shoes with a cushioned heel if you have a backache and hip or knee pain.
Depending on the severity of the pain or ache, an over the counter or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) or an opioid can be taken to relieve the pain. Additionally, muscle relaxants may also be used together with NSAIDs to increase the effect. However, these medications should be taken with caution and should be used only as recommended by your doctor.
Some topical agents, available in the form of creams or gels, are known to relieve joint related pain and aches. These agents help in the release of certain chemicals in your body which block the transmission of pain signals through the nerves or by causing a hot or cooling sensation that distracts you from the pain. In rare cases, these agents may cause burning or stinging in the area where they are applied.
Steroid injections can be used if oral or topical medications fail to provide relief. This may be combined with a local anesthetic and injected directly into the joint every three to four months. It is quite effective, but its impact is temporary. Overuse of these injections may also result in joint damage.
If your bone and joint pain does not seem to be improving with rest and the above-mentioned conservative treatment options, visit the Arizona Orthopedic & Fracture Surgeons for an in-depth evaluation and personalized treatment plan.