Does it hurt to move? Most of us have experienced joint pain. Joint pain can be short term due to injury, or chronic due to arthritis. Causes may be different, but treatment is often similar with the common goal of reducing pain and inflammation to allow joint function. Joint pain may limit your range of motion, contributing to imbalance and increased likelihood of falls, especially as we move into our icy seasons.
Common causes of acute joint pain are due to injuries such as strains and sprains. Joint pain due to injury or sudden pain in the joint should be assessed by your doctor. Immobilize the joint and seek professional assessment right away to prevent further injury. Symptoms such as fever or nausea accompanying pain on movement requires immediate medical attention.
You don’t have joint pain? Damage of our joints will accumulate over time, but there’s much that can be done to maintain joint health and prevent damage for an active lifestyle well into our twilight years. Exercise only after proper stretching and warmup of joints. Perform exercises with proper form, especially plyometric or when performing activities with jumping, repetitive joint movements or weights. Develop supporting muscles for joints and regular stretching. Most importantly, have appropriate rest between exercise, interspersing low-impact aerobic activities for proper muscle and joint recovery. Talk to your pharmacist about supplements for joint and bone health.
Chronic joint pain may be caused by osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or other conditions. It is also common to experience joint stiffness, especially as we age. However, age-related decline can be addressed proactively with proper preventative stretching, low-impact exercise and maintenance of healthy weight. If your doctor has diagnosed you with arthritis, your pharmacist can be your next step in seeking relief. Goals for treatment include preserving mobility. We commonly think of medications, but consider that exercise and mobility aids may reduce pain, improve mobility, and prevent falls. Your pharmacist can discuss rubs, provide fitting for mobility aids, review your medications and work with your pace and comfort.
Joint pain often has an inflammatory component. Inflammation or swelling at the joint interferes with movement and contributes to pain. Anti-inflammatory medications will reduce joint pain associated with swelling and improve mobility. For chronic conditions, reducing inflammation is very important to maintain function of the joint. As we age and experience joint stiffness, remember that you need to use it or lose it. The use of medication can be one tool to keep your joints moving and reduce pain. Improving mobility may be facilitated by stretching and strengthening exercises, or weight loss to reduce load on the joint. Engage your pharmacist to discuss resources and referrals to other health care professionals who can help safely address your unique needs.
Seek the help of a health professional as early as possible if you experience joint pain. Rheumatoid arthritis should be treated as early as possible, to prevent damage to the joint. Maintaining a healthy weight is important for those with arthritis, enlist the aid of your doctor, pharmacist and other health professionals for weight loss. Did you know that regular exercise can strengthen protection of the joint, prevent decline and reduce pain? Seek professional help for proper exercise that is achievable and may actually be enjoyable! Try aquacise, Tai Chi, yoga, or go for a scenic walk. How about tossing coffee with your friend and doing a walk and talk instead? Your doctor may refer you to a rheumatologist or other specialist if your condition is preventing you from exercising. Chronic joint pain affects your overall health and has serious consequences if left untreated.
Anti-inflammatory medications such as naproxen or ibuprofen have the advantage of reducing inflammation and providing pain relief. Anti-inflammatory medication (diclofenac) is also available as a topical gel which is rubbed onto the affected joint – an option if you cannot take an oral medication.
Not everyone can use anti-inflammatory medications. It is important to discuss choices and use of these medications, as they may interact with medications and conditions. Even if you are healthy it’s best to discuss using it regularly with your pharmacist or physician.
Treatment with pain medication (analgesic) is often used for chronic arthritis pain. Acetaminophen is the medication of choice when anti-inflammatory medication cannot be taken. Long acting formulations provide longer relief and conveniently reduce the number of times you have to take them. Your pharmacist can ensure this is a good option for you and assist with dosage forms best suited for your pain.
Whether you want to prevent future joint issues or treat chronic pain, your PharmaChoice pharmacist can help.