Joint pain occurs where the bones in your body meet, when the cartilage that usually protects bones might be damaged or worn down. Here, we discuss some of the causes of joint pain, as well as many treatment options that can help patients to return to pain-free living and the activities that they enjoy.
- Causes of joint pain
- How to treat mild joint pain at home
- When to see a doctor for joint pain
- Joint pain treatment options
- Recent advancements in the treatment of joint pain
- How to recover from hip and knee pain
- How to recover from hand and wrist pain
- Find relief for joint pain
Causes of joint pain
The most common culprit of joint pain is arthritis, which happens frequently in adults above the age of 40.
There are two main types of arthritis: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis results from joints that rub together after the cartilage between them wears down.
Rheumatoid arthritis results from inflammation caused by the body’s own immune system and eventually results in damage of the joint lining and cartilage.
Joint pain might result from an injury as well. Post-traumatic arthritis affects more than 5 million Americans, and it follows incidents like sports injuries, vehicle accidents and falls.
Certain illnesses and conditions can also cause joint pain, such as lupus, gout, cancer, osteoporosis or an infection.
What is the difference between traumatic and atraumatic joint pain?
Post-traumatic joint pain follows trauma or injury, such as a fracture or dislocation. Post-traumatic arthritis affects more than 5 million Americans, and it follows incidents like sports injuries, vehicle accidents and falls. After such an injury, the joint may not function correctly and wear and tear on that joint accelerates the injury. What follows is a degenerative form of osteoarthritis.
Atraumatic joint pain, however, occurs without a recent trauma or injury to that joint. Common causes include rheumatoid arthritis and many types of osteoarthritis. Certain illnesses and conditions can also cause joint pain, such as lupus, gout, cancer or an infection.
Both types of pain should be reviewed by a doctor to determine the best treatment plan, given both the pain and its root cause.
How to treat mild joint pain at home
If you are experiencing mild pain, you may be able to treat it at home with rest, over-the-counter pain relievers (such as ibuprofen and tylenol), and activity modification (decreasing high impact and/or high demand physical activity). Also, icing the affected joint for 15 to 20 minutes at a time, several times a day, or apply a heating pad may help.
When to see a doctor for joint pain
If you’re experiencing joint pain and can’t determine the cause, see your doctor for an exam. The “why” of your joint pain will influence the “how” of your treatments.
You should also see a doctor for joint pain when the pain lasts for more than three days or when the joint is swollen, red or warm. If swelling occurs suddenly, pain becomes severe, the joint appears deformed or you’re unable to use the joint, please seek immediate medical care.
Seeking help for joint pain can be the first step toward your return to a pain-free life. Specialized providers in orthopaedics and sports medicine can offer relief for your condition through surgical and non-surgical means.
Joint pain treatment options
Beyond surgical procedures, your doctor has multiple ways to ease joint pain, depending upon the severity and location of the pain. Several types of injections can ease joint pain, including corticosteroid (for shoulder, knees and hips) and hyaluronic acid (for knees). Medications can also help, including painkillers (such as Tylenol) to ease the pain and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (like Advil or Motrin IB) to ease inflammation and pain.
Physical therapy is another valuable treatment for joint pain, as therapists will teach exercises and stretches to build up the muscle and return your range of motion. Strengthening the muscles around the joints can help alleviate pain and pressure on a painful joint. A specialized brace may also be used depending on the cause of pain.
Recent advancements in the treatment of joint pain
One promising innovation in managing joint pain is MAKO robotic-assisted surgery. This surgery, available at AnMed Health, enables surgeons to use accurate three-dimensional models to create individualized plans for each patient’s joint surgery. The robotic-assisted surgery means that surgeons can have incredible precision as they position new implants, based on each patient’s anatomy.
Hip and knee pain are common types of joint pain because these joints are used frequently by almost everyone – not just athletes, but people like walkers and gardeners, too. The hip joint is a ball-and-socket joint, which allows fluid movement. When cartilage in the joint wears down or nearby muscles or tendons are overused, hip pain results. The knee is a synovial joint – resembling a hinge – that encounters similar problems when cartilage wears down or muscles are overused.
How to recover from hip and knee pain
Untreated hip and knee pain can severely curtail a positive quality of life. Many surgeries and treatment options exist that can allow people to return to pain-free living, including:
- ACL reconstruction: replaces a torn ligament in your knee
- Minimally invasive quad tendon harvesting: a procedures that takes a tendon from a quad to use during an ACL reconstruction
- Total joint replacement: replaces damaged bone and ligament with an artificial implant
- Anthroscopic surgery: minimally invasive procedure that allows a surgeon to see inside your joint to diagnose and treat problems
- MAKO robotic-assisted surgery: a surgery in which a surgeon guides a robotic arm for precise positioning during knee and hip replacements
- Advanced imaging services: MRIs and X-rays that allow radiologists to give doctors high-quality images of your joints
- Outpatient rehabilitation: individualized plans to restore range of movement and strength
AnMed Health surgeons are experts in the field of hip and knee surgeries and treatments, including all of the treatments above. Using minimally invasive techniques allow our patients to recover more quickly and with fewer incisions. Blue Cross of South Carolina has honored AnMed Health as a Blue Distinction® Center for Knee and Hip Replacement, and the Join Commission awarded the team with the Gold Seal of Approval® for Total Hip and Total Knee Replacement Certification.
Each hand contains 27 bones, which allow for dexterous movement – as well as the potential for injury or pain. We use wrists in nearly every activity – from playing sports and instruments to typing and writing – leaving them prone to repetitive stress injuries. In addition, hand and wrist pain often results from arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome, which are both fairly common conditions. It’s little wonder that so many people experience hand and wrist pain.
How to recover from hand and wrist pain
An injury or condition that limits the functioning of hands and wrists can keep people from performing everyday tasks that are vital to daily functioning. AnMed Health offers orthopedic surgeries and services that help patients recover from the pain of such conditions, such as:
- Osteoarthritis: result of cartilage at the end of bones wearing away
- Carpal tunnel syndrome: result of pressure against median nerve, sometimes caused by repetitive stress
- Dislocations: usually results from traumatic injury
- Wrist fractures: often results from a hard fall on outstretched hands
- Sprains: results from ligaments stretching beyond their capacity
- Tendonitis: results from inflammation to a tendon
The multidisciplinary hand and wrist team at AnMed Health includes a fellowship-trained surgeon as well as top occupational and hand therapists. The team offers both surgical and non-surgical solutions to manage hand and wrist pain at the AnMed Health Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine facility in Anderson, S.C. To learn more or to make an appointment, call 864-716-6140.
Find relief for joint pain
If you suffer from joint pain, find relief from your pain and return to the activities you love. AnMed Health’s Total Joint Academy houses all of our joint replacement services under one roof to serve our patients as conveniently as possible. This facility not only houses our state-of-the-art surgical rooms, but also our new, inpatient rehabilitation gym and our team of physical therapists.
To learn how we can help you, please call 864-512-4101.