Your bones are connected closely by hinge-like structures called joints that allow them to move in relation to each other. Joints are bound together by fibrous bands called ligaments. The ligaments surround the joint with fibrous tissue while the surface of the bone is covered by smooth flexible cartilage. Joints are important to your bones as these allow a particular range of movement to your bones. Overflexing or forceful movement in an unnatural direction may expose your joints to injury, causing pain to the area.
Some causes of joint pain
A joint may be dislocated if the bones that should be in contact are pulled apart which prevents the joint from functioning. The jaw or shoulder joints are susceptible to dislocation and may appear misshapen, swollen and discoloured and are usually painful and immovable.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that results in pain, swelling and stiffness of the affected joint. It is a common joint disorder that surfaces at an old age and may be the result of a history of dislocation, repeated trauma and injuries to joints, as in the case of athletes and ballet dancers.
Other causes of joint pain include rheumatoid arthritis, bursitis, gout, fibromyalgia and lupus.
Symptoms of joint pain
Aside from pain in the affected area, joint pain may be accompanied by tenderness, warmth, swelling and stiffness of the joint. These symptoms may be aggravated by walking, running or doing weight bearing exercises.
Natural treatment methods
Strategies for easing joint pain may depend on the cause of your pain and may involve several options to obtain maximum relief.
Joint pain or injury may be treated by a combination of Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. Keeping your joint elevated while applying cold compresses may effectively eliminate pain. You can purchase cold packs or create one by filling a plastic bag with ice cubes. The ice compress is ideal for reducing swelling in the affected area. If swelling is not present, a hot compress may also provide relief by increasing blood circulation to the painful area. Another option to try is to alternate hot and cold compresses.
Low-impact exercises such as swimming and walking help keep joints flexible and may also ease joint pain by increasing blood circulation, improving a joint's range of motion, and strengthening the muscles and supporting structures. Exercise promotes weight loss of 5 to 10 pounds which help relieve chronic joint pain. You should first consult a health professional before starting a new exercise program to ensure that it is safe for your condition.
Traditional Chinese medicine uses acupuncture to ease joint pain. Acupuncture involves the insertion of very thin needles into the skin to stimulate nerves that release brain chemicals called endorphins which are your body's natural pain relievers.
Most people live with joint pain or manage it by taking pain medication regularly. While over the counter medicines may provide immediate relief from joint pain, prolonged use of these medicines is not advisable as the chemical ingredients may cause serious side effects in your body. For safe and effective relief from joint pain, it is best to follow a treatment plan that combines moderate exercise, hot and cold compresses and other natural methods.