Joint Pain Guide – Causes of pains in joints, types, possible solutions and preventions that may help you
Most people suffer from joint pain at one point or the other in their lives.
It can be caused by many different factors and can lead to permanent joint damage if not managed properly.
In the majority of cases, it will usually resolve with treatment.
In some cases, it may be chronic and last for very long and can affect health and well being.
Introduction to Arthralgia
Joints are the points where our bones meet. They may sometimes be referred to as “articulations”.
Some of our more obvious joints are our elbows, knees, wrists and ankles but we also have other joints in our fingers, hips, back and even skull.
The skull joints are the least obvious. It is very likely that every person will experience some form of joint pain at some point in their lives.
“Arthralgia” is the medical term for this problem and it is an extremely common complaint.
It can be compounded by several factors and can lead to some devastating effects if not handled properly. The ability of our joints to function is a very large determinant of our quality of life.
People who suffer from this may be unable to attain a lot of milestones as it can compromise performance and ability.
In fact, if your joints do not work properly, then activities as simple as standing upright and sitting may become painful and tedious.
In some cases, pain that seem to be coming from joints may actually be coming from structures outside or surrounding the joints such as the ligaments, tendons, muscles and/or cartilage.
In these cases, the pain being experienced is not true joint pain.
Our joints are formed in a manner that allows mobility and mechanical support. Some joints such as the pelvic, sacral, sternal and skull joints are strictly for support and protection of vital life organs.
It can occur at any of the joints in the body but has been shown to occur most frequently at the sites of mobile joints. It may occur while the joint is in use or may also be present at rest.
The first step to finding a solution to a joint problem is to understand the underlying cause of the pain and the type of joint where it is coming from.
The different types
Depending on the cause and duration of pain, it may be classified as;
This is the kind that lasts between six hours to three months. It may be caused by a sprain, injury to a joint, a pulled muscle, etc. For example,a pain for 3 days due to a sprain, strain or dislocation is acute in nature.
On the other hand, chronic cases will last for months. When the pain lasts longer than three months, it is considered chronic.
It can sometimes persist for all of your life. There is no limit to the number of years that chronic pain lasts. It may last for years and lead to other complications if left untreated.
The different forms in which it may occur
Joint pain may occur at one joint or at many joints all over the body. The form in which it occurs is usually dependent on the cause of the pain.
Based on the part of the body that it affects, it may be divided into the following;
- Pain in singular joint:
A single joint can be affected. This is usually a result of minor injuries, lifestyle, wear and tear, muscle sprains, dislocations, etc.
Sometimes pain that starts in one joint may spread throughout the body over a period of time. This is particularly common in arthritis in older people.
- Pain in several joints:
Pain in several joints is another form in which it can occur. This type is most commonly caused by diseases that impact the entire body but may also be caused by lifestyle, medication and physical activity.
“All my joints hurt” is a very common complaint at clinics. Some causes can make the whole of your body to hurt.
Autoimmune disorders can also lead to these types of complaints. More commonly, these conditions may be caused by fatigue, medication or even arthritis.
Causes of Pains in the Joint
The causes in young adults, children and older people can vary a lot depending on factors such as health, genetics, lifestyle and level of physical activity.
There are several causes and this is by no means an exhaustive list.
For your easier comprehension, the causes have been grouped under broad headings.
Illnesses and Diseases
Several diseases can cause some form of joint pain. The diseases which cause joint pain include;
|Disease||Symptoms||Joints Commonly Affected|
|Osteoarthritis||Pain, tenderness, stiffness, loss of flexibility, grating sensation, bone spurs.||Can affect any joint. Most times affects the hips, knees, lower back, neck, thumb, fingers, and toes.|
|Tendinitis||Swelling or thickening of the tendon, stiffness, joint pain||Elbow (tennis players), knees (ball players), Shoulders (Rowers).|
|Bursitis||Swelling, redness, rash, fever, disabling joint pain, lasts for one or two weeks||Hip, Knee, Elbow, Shoulder, etc.|
|Rheumatism||Fatigue, tenderness, swelling, pain, Joint warmth, stiffness, loss of range motion||Spinal pain, hip, knee, neck, back, etc.|
|Disseminated Gonococcal infection||Chills, fever, joint pain or swelling, painful wrist and heel tendons, skin rash, and symptoms of meningitis||Wrist, Heel, Neck, Hip, Elbow|
|HIV||Fatigue, headache, muscle aches, joint pain, and sore throat.|
|All over joint pain|
|Hypothyroidism||General muscular weakness and pain, including cramps, and stiffness.||Small joints in the hand and feet|
|Sickle Cell Disease||Painful swelling of the hands and feet, known as dactylitis. Fatigue or fussiness from anemia. A yellowish color of the skin, known as jaundice, or whites of the eyes, known as icteris, that occurs when a large number of red cells hemolysis||Hip, Shoulders, Hands, feet, etc.|
|Hepatitis||Abdominal pain, Dark urine, Fever, Joint pain, Loss of appetite, Nausea and vomiting, Weakness and fatigue, Yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes (jaundice).||All over joint pain.|
|Leukemia||Bone pain, joint pain, fatigue, swelling of joints||Swelling of larger joints; shoulder, hip, elbow, neck, etc.|
|Lupus||Lupus arthritis causes pain, stiffness, swelling, tenderness and warmth in your joints.||Fingers, wrists, elbows, knees, ankles, toes.|
|Lyme disease||Headaches, shooting pain, joint pain, joint swelling and warmth||Knees and other large joints|
|Gout||Deposition of chalkstone, swelling of small joints, acute pain, stiffness||Hands and feet especially big toe|
|Psoriatic arthritis||Reduced movement, stiffness, pain, loss of range of motion, stiff back, neck stiffness, etc.||Inflammation of spine (spondolytis)|
|Reactive arthritis||Pain and swelling in the joints||Knees, ankle, feet, wrists, fingers|
|Rickets||Pain in bone of arms, pelvis, back, legs, swelling, tenderness, teeth deformities, muscle cramps, etc.||All bones and joints|
|Sarcoidosis||Lungs and lymph swelling from respiratory disease. Formation of granulomas.||All joints|
|Adult Still’s Disease||Fevers, rash, joint pain, inflammation||Knees, wrists, ankles, elbows, hands, shoulders|
|Ankylosing spondylitis||Pain and stiffness, bony fusion, pain in bones and ligaments.||Sacroiliac joints, neck, spine|
|Complex Regional Pain Syndrome||Continuous burning, throbbing pain, swelling, sensitivity to touch, cold, etc.||Spread from toe, finger to arms and legs.|
|Influenza||Fever, cough, sore throat, chills, runny nose, body pain, joint pain||All over joint pain|
|Mumps||Parotitis, fever, weakness, fatigue, muscle ache, joint pain, etc.||All over joint pain|
|Rheumatoid arthritis||Fatigue, tenderness, swelling, pain, Joint warmth, stiffness, loss of range motion||Fingers, toes, wrists, ankles, Spinal pain, neck, hips, shoulders, knee, elbow,|
|Bone cancer||Fatigue, weight loss, broken bones, joint pain, swelling, tenderness, etc.||Localized to site of bone cancer.|
|Osgood-Schlatter’s Disease||Knee pain, Leg pain, Swelling, Tenderness, Limping, Fatigue, etc.||Knee, ankle.|
|Hemophiliac arthropathy||Bleeding profusely from minor injuries, bleeding into joint space||Bleed into joint space especially knee, ankles, elbows.|
|Rubella||Swollen glands, spotty red rash, sore red eyes, joint pains, headache and tiredness.||All over acute joint pain|
|Behcet’s syndrome||Mouth ulcers, skin lesions, genital ulcers, inflammation, vomiting, indigestion, nausea, etc.||Knees, ankles, wrists and hands|
|Scleroderma||Swelling and pain in connective tissue and joints||Hands and feet|
|Multiple sclerosis||Does not affect the joints directly but affects other tissues||Knee and hips|
|Traumatic Synovitis||Direct joint trauma, pain, swelling, redness.||Localized area, knees.|
|Polymyalgia rheumatic||Pain and stiffness, giant cell arteritis.||Shoulders, arms, neck, buttocks,|
|Fibromyalgia||Joint pain and muscle weakness, soft tissue stiffness and pain, anxiety, depression, migraines.|
|All over joint soreness|
|Diabetes||High blood sugar, frequent urination, low blood sugar, nerve damage, osteoporosis||Joints in foot, hand|
|Malaria, Dengue fever||Fever, soreness, joint pain, delirium, weakness, vomiting, stooling.||All over joint soreness and pain|
Table showing diseases that cause joint pain
Lifestyle choices may also be a major. There are several lifestyle choices that can affect the health of your joints from food to exercise to posture, etc.
We will only focus on a few.
- Obesity :
Being only 5 pounds overweight can increase the pressure on the knees by an excess of twenty pounds.
That means that for every extra pound of weight you carry, you put up to four pounds of pressure on your weight bearing joints.
The increased amount of stress placed on the joints can result in a faster breakdown of cartilage and a narrowing of the space in the joint.
This is why most morbidly obese people always complain of pain after walking just a short while.
In addition to this, a link has been established between obesity and arthritis in the hands. This suggests that joint damage is not only due to the extra weight but also circulatory problems as well.
The majority of obese people can be classified into three levels of obesity depending on the severity of the disease.
The overweight, obese class I, II and III are the categories. People in Obese class I to III will experience significant differences in their joint health after losing weight. Their bodies will also be able to function better.
Joint pain in obese class III is the most severe and can even lead to an inability to walk or limitations in movement.
It is not only weight bearing joints that suffer from an excess of weight. All joints in the body are negatively affected as the excess weight can affect circulation, respiration, digestion and even repair of tissues after injury.
Being obese also puts a person at risk for lupus, gout and fibromyalgia symptoms
People who are obese should lose weight to protect their joints and take steps to live healthier. This is the only way to preserve joint health in the long term.
It is important to remember that while obesity is caused by lifestyle in the majority of people, some people may suffer from conditions that cause them to be obese.
If this is the case, you can consult with your doctor about fixing the underlying condition, alternative weight loss plans or as a last resort weight loss surgery
- Physical activity and Sporting Activities
Some forms of physical activity can put you at higher risk for joint problems. Some are addressed below;
Weight lifting: Weight lifting can help build muscle and burn fat in the long term and is used in conjunction with cardiovascular exercise to produce weight loss.
Some people take up weightlifting as a primary form of exercise to build strength and muscle.
In these cases, pain when lifting weights is mostly localized to the elbow, shoulder and wrists.
These joints are the most affected and can be protected by maintaining proper form while working out.
In addition to this, several professionals recommend braces for the back, wrist and elbows depending on the joints most affected.
These braces help to stabilize and strengthen the joints and prevent injury or worsening of already present injury.
Body building: Most body builders aim to achieve increased muscle mass and strength all over.
Body building is a pretty competitive sport and most participants try to achieve their goals as quickly as possible by lifting heavier and longer in a short amount of time.
It is important to remember that your body can only learn to do so much in a short amount of time.
The best thing you can do for your joints is to start slow and build up gradually and safely. Rushing through can cause serious injury to joints and muscles.
This is pretty common for bodybuilders. Talk to your doctor and trainer about what course of treatment to take to prevent further damage and preserve your joint health.
Athletics: All manner of athletics and sports can cause joint pain. As recommended earlier, take preventive measures to stop injury to your joints and talk to your doctor as soon as you can.
It can be common when running, jogging and even walking. Getting the right treatment can prevent further degeneration of the joint and restore perfect function.
Furthermore, dislocations, sprains and strains and broken bones (fracture) are more common in athletes than the general population. Prevention is key to elongating your athletic career.
There are several medications that can cause joint pain. They include;
-Statin drugs for cholesterol management
-Anxiety and depression medication can cause nerve tingling
-Proton pump inhibitors like Nexium, Prilosec, Prevacid, etc. can also increase the risk of hip fractures.
-Allergy medication such as Allegra
-Antibiotics such as erythromycin and clarithromycin
-Calcium channel blocker drugs
-Erectile enhancing drugs
-Some HIV drugs
– Some constipation, migraine and headache drugs
Osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease is the most common type of joint problem in people older than 50. It causes pain in joints and bony knots in hands and fingers.
The cartilage that protects the joints becomes loose, stiff and unable to function. The ligaments and tendons are stretched and painful. Pain and soreness are a part of the symptoms of this disease as well.
In addition to this, several other causes of pain in the joints are as a result of aging and a slowing of the body’s ability to heal itself properly.
Also, as aging continues, old injuries to joints may begin to act up especially if your lifestyle has not been managed properly.
A lot of people ask “when does joint pain start in pregnancy? The answer is pretty simple. Pregnancy does not cause it directly.
Pregnancy causes a loosening and stretching of the connective tissue in the body and an increase in weight especially in the abdominal region.
This is what translates to mild joint discomfort. If you experience actual pain, then you should see your doctor.
You may need to wear a pregnancy support belly band or have your posture corrected if the weight of the baby is affecting your back and/or waist.
A lot of us ask ourselves what feels like and whether or not what we are experiencing is joint pain. It is important to remember that it occurs differently in different people.
Some of the more common symptoms are;
Swelling of the region around the joint to more than its normal size is inflammation. It may be indicative of trauma or a disease state. Inflammation can worsen joint pain as fluid builds up and worsens symptoms.
- Tenderness and warmth:
If you are unable to touch the joint because it is tender or touching it brings you pain, then something might be wrong. In addition to this, the joint may suddenly become warm to the touch. This also indicates that something is wrong.
- Loss of range of motion:
The joint is unable to accomplish all the motions it could before. Also, movement may be limited to one direction or two instead of all round.
- Locking of the joint:
In some cases, the joint may lock and refuse to accomplish any movement at all. Don’t force it. Just get to the hospital as fast as possible.
- Stiffness and weakness:
Another symptom is weakness or an inability to function fluidly. The joint may become stiff and unable to function.
- Joint swelling and redness:
There may be a swelling and redness accompanying joint pain or even without pain. This counts as a symptom and should be shown to your physician
- Tingling in the joint:
A feeling of tingling, shooting, sharp pain or discomfort is also a sign that something is wrong with the joint.
When is this Pain Normal?
Is is for no reason is very unlikely. Most people who experience it write it off as being a minor issue and take over-the-counter medication to treat it.
It is important to mention it to your doctor. When it occurs on-and –off for a while, you should not just write it off. It may be a symptom that something else is wrong.
Using self-prescribed medication can also be dangerous. When you do not feel pain from an injured joint, there is a risk of overuse and further damage to the joint.
When is it an Emergency?
Joint pain is rarely considered a medical emergency. In most cases, it is indicative of the presence of an underlying condition.
If you experience any of these symptoms in conjunction with it, it is important you see your doctor as soon as you can.
The following symptoms may indicate that your pain is just a symptom of a more serious condition.
- Rashes, spots, blotches
- Facial and genital sores
- Pain in the chest, throat or a cough
- Stomach pain or discomfort
- Fever, sweats, or chills
- Soreness of the eye, redness and pain
Joints Most Affected By Pain
While some people complain of experiencing joint pain all over their bodies, others will experience pain localized to only one region of the body.
The joints most affected by are;
- The Knee Joint:
The majority of joint pain complaints in younger, older and even athletic people have to be with the knee.
This is because the knee is a weight-bearing joint and a hinge joint. It is also one of the joints we use the most in our daily activities and even when working out.
As a result of the weight placed on it, the wear and tear and pain in the knee is especially forceful when compared with other joints.
- The Hip Joint:
This is also a weight bearing joint. It does not move as much as the knee with daily activity but it can degenerate pretty quickly. The majority of older people that experience fractures tend to have them in their hips.
- The Ankle joint:
Pain in the ankle is also fairly common and may be indicative of other serious conditions.
Pain in fingers and toes is another fairly common complaint. Finger pain is usually arthritic in nature and can cause severe limitations in performing daily activities and a decline in quality of life.
Other joints most affected by pain are the elbows and shoulders.
One commonly asked question is “which doctor treats joint pain?” question. The answer to this is very simple.
First, you see a general practitioner to complain about your joint pain. After determining the cause of the pain, the doctor will then refer you to a specialist or to a physical trainer, or will proceed with the treatment himself.
If you suffer from joint pain and report it to your doctor, s/he is likely to ask you some questions and do a physical examination.
In the interview, your doctor will ask you questions about your lifestyle choices, when the pain started, your health background, any recent or past trauma or medical condition and medication you are currently using.
After interviewing you, the doctor may ask to see the joint in question or ask you to take tests, an xray or a scan to get a clearer picture of the cause of pain.
- Physical examination:
After questioning you, the doctor will look at the site where the pain s localized. He may apply pressure at different points to determine the extent of the pain.
S/he may ask you to take an action and determine whether or not the range of motion is affected.
After examining you, your doctor may ask you to go for a scan, tests or x-ray.
After the cause of joint pain is determined, treatment begins.
Joint pain treatment may take several forms. Usually, the treatment will be dependent on the cause of the pain.
In rare instances, it may be idiopathic (having no known cause). In the same vein, supplements, vitamins and minerals are available all over the fitness industry to promote joint health.
- Treatment of Underlying Cause:
In some cases, joint pain may be resolved by treating the underlying cause of the pain. If the pain is caused by a curable disease and ha not permanently affected the joint, curing the illness may get rid of the pain.
Knowledge of which deficiency, supplements, viruses, drugs, antibiotics, parasites and foods cause this will be a part of what your doctor, specialist and physical trainer can help you with.
Knowing all of these can save you a lot of pain in the long term. Not knowing these can leave you at the mercy of your condition and worsen it.
Conditions like mumps, influenza, and hypothyroidism can all cause acute joint pain. Once the underlying condition passes or is treated, it then goes away.
Several medications have been proven to be helpful in the treatment of joint pain. They include;
Acetaminophen commonly known by the brand name “Tylenol” is a fast acting pain reliever that can reduce or eliminate your symptoms in the short term.
You should remember that long term use of acetaminophen can be detrimental to your health and people with certain medical conditions may be ill advised to use it. Make sure you consult your physician before going this route.
- Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs:
NSAIDs such ad aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen sodium are also great options for pain relief.
However, they also pose a risk to the health of your gut. It is important therefore that you stick to using NSAIDs only at the required dosage.
If you are using it in the long term, you should consider adding a proton pump inhibitor to protect your gut health.
This drug has the amazing ability to slow the breakdown of cartilage. In addition to this, Diacerein can reduce pain associated with the joints. The one downside is that it is likely to give you diarrhea.
This drug has only been recently researched in connection to joint pain. Though it reduces the feeling remarkably well, its side effect can be very unpleasant.
Vomiting, nausea, dry mouth, fatigue, constipation, etc. are just a few.
- Opioid and narcotic analgesics:
These drugs are very effective in treating the pain associated with joint diseases. However, their numerous side effects do not encourage drug compliance.
They can cause effects like sleepiness, nausea, constipation, vomiting, dizziness, etc.
- Corticosteroid injections:
Injecting corticosteroids into the joints can be beneficial. They will reduce pain for a few days to weeks. However, treatment will have to be repeated often to be effective.
- Hyaluronic acid injections:
Hyaluronic acid is able to supplement the cushioning effect of the joint in some people. The effects of hyaluronic acid can last as long as 4 months before wearing off.
Some people who have undertaken this treatment have found it beneficial while others say that they felt no different.
Though it is better known for its use in treating osteoporosis, this drug has also been shown to prevent cartilage degeneration. However, there are insufficient studies to support this claim.
There are several topical agents that can be of benefit to joint pain management. They include;
Capsaicin is an analgesic that is great at reducing pain associated with joints. It is suitable as a topical agent and can cause skin irritation and redness of the skin. It is often found in creams but may also be taken as a medication.
Capsaicin triggers the release of endorphins and can help hut down substance P; a pain mediating chemical.
- Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory topical agents:
The great advantage of topical NSAIDs is that they cause no problems to the gut while delivering the same relief as NSAIDs. Though they may cause skin irritation and redness, they are generally considered safer than actual NSAIDs.
The aim of physical therapy for joint pain is to not only reduce the pain but to also keep the joint as functional as safely possible and maintain the remainder of your body in good health.
Physical therapy can be beneficial to even the worst cases. Your therapist can help you decide which exercises are suitable for your condition and help you adapt your life to said condition.
Physical therapy can help to restore quality of life and lift depression.
In most severe cases of joint pain, your physical therapist may recommend a lot of strength training, massages and water exercises. Exercising in water takes the stress off your joints and leaves them as healthy as possible.
It is important that you work with a physical therapist that understands your condition.
In addition to these, physical therapy can help you lose and maintain a healthy weight so that your joints do not experience even more stress. Losing just 11 pounds can help reduce the stress on your joints by up to 50%.
There are several alternative treatment options available for people with joint pain. If you are into alternative treatments, you can try them out. Though most scientists are still skeptical about whether they work, it can’t hurt.
While some people say that acupuncture has no effect on them, others swear by its ability to relieve pain.
If you believe it can help, it is safe to try acupuncture as a form of alternative to orthodox treatment for pain management.
This therapy involves soaking in mineral springs. Most people who do this attest to its ability to reduce pain and inflammation.
- Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation (TENS):
In the case of TENS, a weak electrical current is passed through the joint giving it a jolt. This method is believed to relieve pain for a while by blocking pain receptors.
If you are interested in natural remedies to your joint problems, there are several supplements in the marketplace that have been proven to be beneficial to managing joint pain. They include:
Glucosamine is one of the more popular supplements for this purpose. Thought the studies behind its use have been highly controversial, glucosamine has been endorsed by the majority of its users.
It is believed to strengthen cartilage and collagen fibers and therefore reinforces the joint. Several studies have shown a slowing of joint space narrowing in the knees when using glucosamine.
- Chondroitin Sulfate:
Another very popular supplement is chondroitin sulfate. Chondroitin sulfate is also believed to strengthen cartilage and improve collagen fibers.
By doing this, it can protect your joints, muscles and bones. In addition to this, chondroitin sulfate has also been proven to be beneficial for pain reduction.
- Avocado soybean unsaponfiables:
This is an extract of avocado and soybean oils. A study has shown that it is not only beneficial in reducing pain but will also help slow down the degeneration of joints by preserving existing cartilage.
Braces, canes, crutches, sleeves and other devices:
Braces, canes, crutches, sleeves and other devices are designed to stabilize the joint and reduce the amount of weight it bears. These two actions work hand in hand to promote the healing of the joint and prevent further injury to it.
These devices are generally recommended by a doctor and used with regular supervision.
As a last resort, surgery may be considered to manage or resolve chronic joint pain. There are different types of surgery depending on the joint affected and the extent of damage. They include;
- Joint Lavage:
This is the process of flushing the joint with a sterile solution and removing all the tissue fragments lodged in the joint
- Joint Preserving Surgery:
Osteotomy may be done to realign the bones at the joint and delay the need for joint replacement.
- Knee, Hip Replacement:
This is a last resort. Replacements may be total or partial depending on the extent of damage. Joint replacements take a lot of effort, money, time and medication to get back to near-normal.
There are several other types of surgical interventions.
Depending on the extent of the pain and how it is managed, there are several possible scenarios that could play out in the long term.
- Joint Damage:
In some cases, especially when pain is not reported early enough, joint pain can give rise to permanently damaged joints.
In addition to this, some conditions may damage the joint directly and no amount of treatment will return said joint to full functionality.
If there is partial damage to your joint, you should see a doctor and therapist as soon as possible.
Early diagnosis and management can save your joints and preserve your quality of life.
Depending on the type of damage to your joints, paralysis (temporary or permanent) may result.
In treating the underlying cause, you should try as much as possible to retain some range of motion in the joint. The more flexibility the joint has the better.
Joint damage may also result in damage to the nerves and blood supply of parts of the body. As stated earlier, early diagnosis is important to ensure the best results.
In some cases, health professionals are able to resolve joint pain by treating the underlying cause. If the cause is treated properly, then you may never experience joint pain of that sort again.
The majority of cases that present with joint pain will need to have the pain and cause managed due to flare ups from time to time.
Some people will be put on anti-inflammatory medication and have their diets modified. Others will need intensive physical therapy. Still others will need surgery and managed care. The list is endless.
Best Foods for Joint Health
A good diet can help you keep your joints healthy and help them heal from injury. Several foods can be beneficial to the health of your joints. They include;
- Fatty fish:
Fatty fish like salmon contains healthy quantities of omega-3 fatty acids. They can help reduce inflammation and promote joint health while keeping joints well lubricated.
There are several studies that show that the constant consumption of omega-3 fatty acid will lead to a decrease in the inflammatory response of the body and reduce joint inflammation.
This is particularly helpful for people who suffer from arthritis.
In fact, using a fish oil supplement regularly has been proven to decrease the need for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil:
Several studies done in mice have shown that regular consumption of extra virgin olive oil is beneficial to the process of healing and repair after injury.
Extra virgin olive oil promotes the production of lubricin, a compound found in the synovial fluids of joints and help increase joint lubrication.
- Cherries, Blackberries, Raspberries, Strawberries, Grapes, Eggplant and Apricots:
These fruits contain “anthocyanins”; a protective compound that reduces inflammation. They are also a rich source of magnesium which helps in reducing pain.
- Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage:
Broccoli, cauliflower, bokchoy, Brussels sprouts and other cruciferous vegetables contain plenty of vitamins and minerals that can promote joint health. All of these vegetables are also great for preventing arthritis.
- Green Tea:
Green tea is a source of “catechins” that help prevent collagen and cartilage from breaking down.
One study has shown that people who take a citrus supplement daily have reduced amounts of joint pain when compared with those in a placebo group.
This effect is due to a bioflavonoid called “nobiletin” present in citrus fruits. For maximum benefits, eat the whole fruit and the pulpy white part or blend into a smoothie.
- Whole grains:
Whole grains have been shown to reduce the levels of C – reactive protein in blood. CRP is a marker of inflammation and shows an increased risk of developing arthritis.
Kefir is a type of cultured milk that contains bacteria beneficial to joint health. These bacteria include L. casei. Kefir can be eaten alone or used to eat cereal.
- Garlic, Onions:
They contain a sulfur compound that fights inflammation and pain. They also help lower blood pressure and fight other infections.
Nuts contain healthy fat and antioxidants that help protect our joints and repair them.
In a study of people suffering from osteoarthritis, the use of turmeric extract was as beneficial to relieving pain as taking 800mg of ibuprofen daily.
Turmeric contains “curcumin” a wonderful compound that can help reduce the effects of inflammation.
Chia seeds are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids and amino acids. Hand in hand, these can help with the growth and repair of tissue.
Almonds are rich in omega 3 for reducing inflammation, manganese for pain management and joint repair, and vitamin E that acts as an antioxidant.
Though it is considered a weed by many people, this plant is a great source of omega 3. Another great source is sachainchi.
Pineapple contains “bromelain”; an enzyme that has amazing anti-inflammatory and antioxidant abilities.
Papaya contains vitamin C and vitamin A which help with tissue repair and antioxidant action respectively. In addition to this, papaya contains enzymes that help reduce inflammation and pain.
Apples are great sources of “quercetin”, a key ingredient in the formation of collagen. Collagen helps keep skin, muscles, bones and joints healthy and young.
Bananas are rich in potassium and fiber and can help you manage your weight. Potassium deficiencies have been linked to joint disorders.
Avocado is a powerhouse food that contains many anti-inflammatories, antioxidants and potassium
Ginger, like turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties and can help heal tissues.
Kale contains vitamin C and manganese which help to repair tissue and reduce pain. In addition to these, it contains copper which can help in the formation of cartilage and collagen for healthy joints.
Worst Foods for Joint Health
There are several foods that can be beneficial to the health of your joints and may even help you heal faster after an injury.
However, there are also other foods that can cause a lot of damage to your joints directly or indirectly by affecting the bones and muscles. They include;
- High Sodium Foods:
An increase in the amount of salt you consume can cause an increase in the amount of calcium your body excretes. It is bet that you eat no more than the recommended 1200mg of salt daily and drink a lot of water.
- Sugary snacks:
Consuming an excess of sugar can cause a decrease in your body’s ability to absorb calcium and make use of phosphorus. If you have a sweet tooth, fruit is the way to go to optimize joint health.
- Cola sodas:
Drinking one soda every day is associated with a decrease in bone density and increased risk of fracture. Sodas also contain a lot of sugar which is detrimental to joint, bone and muscle health.
Caffeine leaches calcium from bones. About 6 mg of calcium is lost for every 100mg of caffeine you take. This effectively weakens bones and leads to an increased risk of joint damage.
Excessive consumption of alcohol is known to contribute to low bone density and an increased risk of fractures, both of which are detrimental to your joint health.
Some types of beans are high in substances called phytates which can prevent your body from absorbing calcium.
Beans are high in magnesium, fiber and other great nutrients. To get all the richness of beans with very little phytate, you can soak beans in water for a few hours and then cook in fresh water.
- Inflammatory foods:
Nightshade vegetables can lead to inflammation. They include tomatoes, mushroom, white potatoes, eggplant, etc.
As a result of how rich these vegetables are, they should not be completely avoided. Instead, taking a minimum of 1200 mg of calcium per day can be used to reduce their effects.
- Raw Spinach and Swiss chard:
Raw spinach and Swiss chard are good sources of calcium. However, these vegetables contain oxalates which prevent ready absorption of their calcium content.
Instead of eating these vegetables alone, eat them alongside other calcium rich food to balance out this effect.
- Animal protein:
Animal protein can be detrimental to bone and joint health because of its tendency to be acidifying. Animal protein should only be eaten in small quantities to reduce this effect.
A link has been found between consumption of genetically modified food and loss of bone density.
It is unclear whether the loss of bone density is because of the use of new herbicides and pesticides or as a result of the GMO foods themselves.
As with most animal protein, dairy products can be detrimental to the health of your joints because of their tendency to be acidifying. You can still consume low fat dairy product in small quantities. Just don’t overdo it.
If you suffer from gluten or wheat intolerance, you should avoid foods that contain gluten as they can lead to inflammation and worsening of arthritis pain.
- Junk food:
Most junk food contains fried, high saturated fats foods that contribute to inflammation. Inflammation can worsen the health of your joints especially of you suffer from arthritis.
It is a good idea to avoid fast food as much as possible to preserve bone and joint health and prevent an increase in cholesterol.
- Bleached flour:
Bleached flour contains very little nutrient but is a staple in most diets across the world. Instead of using bleached flour, you can try using a whole wheat or multi-grain flour to make your food more nutritious.
Bleached (white) flour contains less than 50% of calcium, only 17% of magnesium, 25% of zinc, 40% copper, 18% manganese of what is originally in wheat flour.
- Cured Meats:
All animal proteins are acidifying food and should be eaten in moderation. However, processed meat is even worse because of the use of sodium nitrite as a preservative and flavor enhancer.
Nitrites when consumed undergo a chemical reaction to form nitrosamines which are carcinogenic and damaging to bones and joints.
There are other methods of preserving meat so you can try to use meats that are not preserved using sodium nitrite. Always read the label before buying a product.
Other foods to avoid include soy, lactose based foods and all food you have intolerance to.
Prevention; Top Tips to Keep Joints Healthy
There are several common mistakes we all make that put our joints at risk. If you are periodically experiencing discomfort in your joints, here are some tips to keep in mind.
- Lose weight:
Every extra pound of fat you carry quadruples the amount of stress placed on your weight bearing joints (knees, hip and spine).
To maintain healthy joints, make sure you are within the recommended weight range for your height and age. Extra weight can increase the compression of our joints and make it difficult for them to remain lubricated.
Losing just eleven pound of fat can reduce the stress on your knees by up to 50%. Get moving now.
- Exercise regularly:
Regular exercise will not only help you lose weight but will also help you maintain a healthy physique and build lean muscle.
In addition to these benefits, exercise will help your joints become more flexible and improve your performance ability.
Walking, jogging, jump rope, yoga, aerobics, etc. are all forms of exercise that most people can safely engage in.
If you suffer from severe joint pain or damage, you can consider exercising in a pool. Exercising in water can take almost all the stress off your joints while still helping you burn calories and keep fit.
- Don’t Over exercise:
While some exercise is a good thing, over exercising can be detrimental to the health of your joints.
If your joints are still aching two hours after a quick workout, then maybe you are trying to do too much. Lighten the load and evaluate your body’s response before increasing it again.
- Warm up before exercising:
Always, always, always warm up before you start to exercise. A light jog for a few minutes, some stretching and breathing exercises can prevent joint injuries. Slowly ease your muscles into the workout and then up it from there.
- Maintain proper form while exercising:
One of the major causes of exercise related joint injury is a lack of proper form. Maintaining proper form preserves the integrity of your joint and also helps you work the right group of muscles every time.
If you are not sure that your form is proper, you can hire a physical trainer for a few sessions until you are more experienced.
If you cannot afford a personal trainer, you can use YouTube videos and ask a friend or family member to help spot your mistakes until you have the form mastered.
- Get enough sunlight:
Sunlight is very important to the health of your bones. Exposure to adequate amounts of sunlight can help our bodies synthesize vitamin D in sufficient quantities to preserve bone health.
If you cannot get enough sunlight, it is important that you take a vitamin D supplement to make up for this deficiency.
Vitamin D helps your body regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in your body thereby controlling the rate of bone deposition. A deficiency of vitamin D can contribute to osteoporosis and osteomalacia.
- Eat plenty of omega-3 fatty acids:
Omega-3 fatty acids are great for your joint health. Also, omega 6 fatty acids can be beneficial too.
Thankfully, you can get plenty of these amazing nutrients from fatty fish, nuts and seeds like flaxseed. These fats can affect the rate at which bone is created and broken down by affecting mineral deposition into bone.
- Maintain proper posture:
Always maintain proper posture when sitting, standing, bending, lifting, etc. It is very important that you maintain proper posture at all times.
Not only does maintaining proper posture help you prevent injury, it also helps you burn calories and improves the health of your organs.
- Choose the right kind of footwear:
People who wear high heeled shoes have a ten times greater chance of injury to their joints.
Choosing the right kind of footwear is especially important as the majority of your load bearing joints is directly affected by the type of shoes you wear.
If you like to wear high heels, wearing heels lower than 3 inches is best for you bones and joints. Also, you should always make sure that your shoes fit properly and have proper arch support.
- Stop smoking:
Smoking is detrimental to the health of your bones and joints. Smokers have a higher tendency to have low bone density because smoking causes a decrease in the ability of our bodies to absorb calcium needed for bone formation and maintenance.
- Change positions often:
Maintaining one position for a long time can be detrimental to your bone and joints. Staying in one position can even reduce the flow of blood to some parts of the body and place excessive amounts of stress on some joints.
It is important to vary your routine and give different parts of your body rest. Getting up and moving around will not only promote joint health but will also help you keep healthy in the long run.
- Eat a Balanced Diet (Fish, vegetable, fruit, etc.):
The importance of a balanced diet for bone, muscle and joint health cannot be overemphasized. You should aim to eat a diet high in fatty fish, green vegetables, low glycemic index fruits, fiber and protein.
All of these groups of foods contain nutrients that contribute to preserving and growing new muscle, bones and joints.
- Build muscle:
Strong muscles can help reduce the stress your body place on your joint. If you are overweight and are aiming to lose weight, try to build as much muscle as possible in the process.
Muscle tissue is denser than fatty tissue and doesn’t exert as much pressure as fat does on the organs and joints in our bodies.
- Use the right supplements:
Glucosamine, chondroitin and several other supplements have been hailed as the gold standard in promoting muscle health.
These supplements are even used clinically to treat the effects of osteoarthritis. Using these supplements can help prolong the health of your joints as they promote the growth and health of cartilage and other connective tissue.
- Take your vitamins:
A daily multivitamin can help prevent you from developing any deficiencies and benefit your bone and joint health.
Vitamin D and K promote bone healing, vitamin C helps with the repair of tissues, vitamin E relieves pain and promotes skin health, folic acid, calcium, etc. They all have a part to play in keeping your body in top shape.
- Stretch and do yoga:
Before now, yoga was considered a lazy man’s exercise. However, it has been proven several times that yoga and stretching in combination can serve as a form of exercise.
They also serve as a means of warming up or down when engaging in higher intensity exercise.
If you have joint damage or severe pain, some forms of yoga can be beneficial.
- Build a strong core:
Most people do not know that the vertebral column (spine) has a load bearing function. Most of the weight in our midsection is carried by the vertebral column and hips.
This is why many pregnant women and beer bellied men complain of having severe back pain. Putting too much load on the spine can cause serious damage.
In order to reduce the weight on your spine, it is important to maintain a healthy weight and build a strong core. A strong core refers to building strong abdominal wall muscles.
They help maintain balance and posture and are important in preventing injury and falls.
- Tell your doctor:
Always mention it to your doctor when you have joint pain. This is especially important if you have some other medical condition that you are being or have recently been treated for.
Sometimes, joint pain is symptomatic of other disorders. In most cases, early detection is beneficial to overall health and management.
- Use heat therapy:
Using heat therapy on achy joints can provide some instant relief. Using hot water bottles, heat pads and even some rubs like capsaicin can be very relieving.
- Brace Up:
If you are injured, it can be beneficial to use a brace for some time. Braces will not only reduce inflammation but also help prevent a recurrence or worsening of the injury.
In addition to this, braces may allow you have an active recovery (depending on the extent of injury) and ease your return to an active lifestyle.
In conclusion, it is important that you remember that joint pain is a very common complaint. Most of us will suffer from joint pain at one point or the other in our lives.
The most important action to take when you experience joint pain is to visit your physician and determine the underlying cause.
In addition to this, remember that pain accompanied by other symptoms could be indicative of other health conditions. Make sure you tell your doctor all the symptoms you are experiencing.
The treatment is dependent on the underlying cause. Depending on the cause, treatment may be immediate or a course for managing your condition might be set for you by your doctor.
Regardless of how debilitating it can be, sticking to your treatment plan can help manage and resolve this condition and go a long way towards improving your quality of life.