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Remember those younger days when you could walk, run, or dance at your free will whenever you wanted to? And the hiking expedition where you walked several miles and climbed the rocky terrain but never complained of joint pain? How can you forget the soccer or basketball matches in your high school? Sadly, for many, it is painfully difficult to even get up from the sofa.

It is not as effortless as it used to be anymore. How is it with you?

Does it take a painful effort to get up from your seat? Do you experience throbbing pain on your joints when you walk? Are your knees, hips, and ankles unable to carry your weight comfortably, as in yesteryears?

If not, your body could be in a precarious condition.

Such a wear-and-tear condition that causes achy joints may eventually lead to can’t-get-up-from-the-seat pain. Why? The cartilages around your joints that provide the cushioning might have thinned and fissured.

The joints provide the flexibility to bend, twist, and turn smoothly. Keeping it healthy lets you be on the move with no jerk or crackle for as long as you want. As per National Arthritis Statistics, from 2013 to 2015, about 54.4 million US adults (22.7%) annually had ever been told by a doctor that they had some form of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lupus, or fibromyalgia.

Structure of Joint

What is inside a joint? There’s connective tissue – the Ligament, which serves as a bridge from one bone to the other via your muscles. There’s also Cartilage – a fibrous and somewhat elastic tissue that acts as a cushioning material between joints. The function of cartilage is to act as a shock absorber to prevent bones from grinding against each other.

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Various kinds of Joints in our body

There are various kinds of joints in our body. Knees work more like door hinges, while shoulders have a ball-and-socket-type structure. Yet all joints have the same basic construction and function – they connect one bone to another to give us the flexibility to bend, twist, or turn as per our needs.

Causes of Joint Pains

It would be prudent to first understand the type of joint pain before you indulge in its treatment. This would also help prevent you from falling victim to such painful conditions.

You may get joint pain because of many reasons, but one of the most common causes is Arthritis. The two dominant forms of arthritis are Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Osteoarthritis appears from a breakdown of the cartilage that serves as a cushion and shock absorber for the joints. Rheumatoid Arthritis causes pain, inflammation, and fluid buildup in the joints as the body’s immune system attacks the membrane that lines the joints.

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Rheumatoid Arthritis more commonly affects women than men

If you injured your ligaments, bursae, or tendons surrounding the joint, it can lead to joint pain. Such injuries can also affect the cartilage, ligaments, and bones within the joint. Joint inflammation and infection can cause severe pain. However, it is rare to be a cause of cancer of the joint. Shoulder pain, ankle pain, and knee pain are usually caused because of pain within the joint.

Joint pain can affect anyone, though osteoarthritis usually creeps in as your body ages. In women, it occurs after the age of 50, and in men, it is more likely before the age of 45.

According to the Arthritis Foundation, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) affects about 1.5 million Americans. It more commonly affects women than men. Women are more likely to develop osteoarthritis in their hands, knees, ankles, or feet, while men are more likely to get it in their wrists, hips, or spine.

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As per the data from the Global Burden of Diseases 2017 study, RA prevalence was highest in high-income North America (22.5), South Asia (20.7), and Western Europe (20.4); Southeast Asia (6.2), Oceania (7.9), and Western Sub-Saharan Africa (8.5) had the lowest rates.

Other Causes of Joint Pains

Bursitis, an inflammation of the cushioning pads around joints;

Lupus, a chronic auto-immune disease that causes inflammation throughout your body;

Gout, a variety of conditions caused by a buildup of uric acid;

Certain infectious diseases, such as mumps, influenza, and hepatitis;

Chondromalacia of the patella is the breakdown of the cartilage in the kneecap;

Tendinitis or inflammation of the tendon;

An infection of the bone or joint;

Overuse of a joint;

Cancer;

Fibromyalgia, is associated with widespread pain in the muscles and bones, areas of tenderness, and general fatigue;

Osteoporosis increases the size of the spaces inside the bones, causing them to lose strength and density;

Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease in which clumps of inflammatory cells form in various organs;

Rickets is a skeletal disorder caused by a lack of vitamin D, calcium, or phosphate.

Symptoms of Joint Pain

You may not know the actual cause of your joint pain and might experience other unexplained symptoms. It is unwise to guess the cause of your joint pain. The best approach is to consult an orthopaedic surgeon as soon as you feel the pain or discomfort.

You should also see a doctor if:

  • the area around the joint is swollen, red, tender, or warm to the touch; that’s inflammation
  • the pain continues for three days or more
  • you have a fever but no other signs of the flu or cough

Consult immediately if any of the following occurs:

  • You’ve experienced a serious injury.
  • The joint appears deformed.
  • The swelling of the joint occurs suddenly.
  • The joint is immobile.
  • You have severe joint pain.

Your doctor will probably perform a physical exam and ask you a series of questions about your joint pain. This may help to narrow down the potential causes.

An X-ray of the joint may be necessary to identify arthritis-related damage. If your doctor suspects there’s another cause, they may order a blood test to screen for certain auto-immune disorders. They may also request a sedimentation rate test to measure the level of inflammation in the body or a complete blood count for further analysis.

Medical Treatment

There are several treatment options and will depend on the cause of the pain. Sometimes, your doctor will need to draw out excess fluid from the joint area to test for infection or gout, or other causes of the joint pain. They may also recommend surgery to replace the joint as the last remedy.

Other non-surgical treatment methods could include changes in your lifestyle or medications that might cause to slack the intensity of RA. For this, your doctor will first address inflammation. Once the RA goes into remission, your medical treatment will focus on keeping a tight rein on your condition so you avoid flare-ups.

You should see your doctor if you have any unexplained joint pain, especially if it doesn’t go away on its own after a few days. Early diagnosis can help in treating the underlying cause of your pain and discomfort to avoid severe consequences.

Tips to Keep Joints Healthy

  • Stay physically active and follow a fitness regime focusing on moderate exercise.
  • Stretch before exercising to maintain a good range of motion in your joints.
  • Try to maintain your body mass index. This will lessen stress on the joints.
  • You may try taking getting a massage, stretching frequently, taking a warm bath, and getting adequate rest.
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Diets for a Healthy Joint

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Foods rich in nutrients and antioxidants can relieve joint pain

Diet has a positive impact on the severity of the symptoms of joint pains. There are several nutrient-rich foods that can ease inflammation and also relieve some joint pain associated with arthritis.

Berries

Berries contain antioxidants that have been shown to reduce arthritis-related inflammation. It is loaded with antioxidants, such as ascorbic acid (a form of vitamin C), anthocyanins, and carotenoids. These compounds help to eliminate free radicals that promote inflammation. There’s a wide variety of berries to choose from; strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries are just a few.

Broccoli

Broccoli is rich in vitamins K and C and has been associated with reduced inflammation. It also contains sulforaphane, which could help prevent or slow the progression of osteoarthritis.

Fatty Fish

Fatty fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D, both of which may be beneficial for reducing the severity of arthritis symptoms. It can also increase blood flow throughout the body during exercise. If you can have three grams of fish oil each day, it can help reduce the intensity of joint symptoms like morning stiffness, swelling, and tenderness.

Garlic

Besides being a tasty addition to just about any savory dish, garlic has been shown to reduce symptoms of arthritis. It contains diallyl disulfide, a compound that limits the effects of pro-inflammatory cytokines. It, therefore, can help fight the pain, inflammation, and cartilage damage of arthritis.

Ginger

The anti-inflammatory properties in ginger seem to help relieve pain and improve the function of many types of arthritis. The compounds in ginger can function in the same way as common medications for rheumatoid arthritis or psoriatic arthritis. Here is an interesting home remedy video to alleviate knee pain using ginger.

Grapes

Grapes have anti-inflammatory properties and, according to research, eating grapes regularly can help mobility and reduce pain from arthritis. The study showed polyphenols, the organic chemicals found in grapes helped relieve pain from osteoarthritis of the knee and improved joint flexibility and overall mobility.

Olive Oil

Olive oil has shown to help treat Rheumatoid Arthritis. It seems more beneficial when combined with fish oil. In one study, the combination of olive oil and fish oil significantly improved handgrip strength, joint pain, and morning stiffness.

Spinach

Spinach is rich in antioxidants, especially high in kaempferol, which has shown to decrease the effects of the inflammatory agents associated with rheumatoid arthritis. Studies have found that kaempferol can reduce inflammation and slow the progression of osteoarthritis.

Tart Cherry Juice

Studies show that tart cherry juice could lower inflammation and reduce pain from osteoarthritis (OA). A recent study showed that drinking cherry juice twice a day for 21 days reduced the pain felt by people suffering from OA.

Walnuts

Walnuts are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which work to control the amount of inflammation in the body and help to protect against some types of arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis.

Conclusion

A sedentary lifestyle can also cause joint pains. And this has nothing to do with age. Inactivity can bring your limbs to a grinding halt or lead to painful movement. Add to that, junk food, obesity, and alcohol further erode bone density. 

A natural approach to joint pain relief is becoming more popular in recent years. Yoga, weight loss program, acupuncture, meditation, massage, and herbal supplements are some ways you can treat your joint pains without surgery or medications. It is safer with no side effects, but you should not neglect to consult a doctor before trying these natural remedies. The underlying causes of your joint pains may have much deeper complications that require a scientific approach.

So, let your joints give you the leverage to spring you back to an active life.

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