Relieving joint pain
If joint pain is forcing you to abandon things you love to do, it's time to look for solutions. Most fall into one of the following two categories: non-surgical alternatives or joint replacement. Only a qualified physician can determine the best course of treatment for you.
Depending on the condition of your joints, your level of pain, and the recommendation of your doctor, some non-surgical treatments may be effective in reducing your discomfort. These typically include:
- Nutrition. Limited scientific studies and inconclusive results lead many doctors to urge caution concerning the extensive use of nutritional supplements. However, recent research has shown that augmenting the body's natural supply of glucosamine and chondroitin, two important cartilage-building elements, can offer some relief. Obviously, a healthy diet is always a good idea. Avoiding heavily processed foods and choosing whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and lean meats can keep weight under control, minimizing strain on your joints and supporting the body's efforts to heal.
- Exercise. Staying active with low-impact exercises like walking and swimming throughout life is extremely important in slowing joint degeneration and limiting pain. According to a Surgeon General's Report, moderate physical activity improves the symptoms and functionality of arthritis sufferers. An evaluation by a physical therapist could also help identify muscle areas that, if strengthened through exercise, could limit the strain on problem joints.
- Medications. Used carefully and only as prescribed by your doctor, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (under names like Advil, Aleve, and Motrin) can reduce swelling, stiffness, pain, and inflammation. Keep in mind that these medications do not cure the underlying condition and that they only help as long as you continue taking them. All NSAIDs carry the possibility of side effects, some of which can be severe, so a frank conversation with your physician about the risks and benefits is essential.
- Injections. When other non-surgical options have failed, injections are often the last resort before surgery. Viscosupplementation involves injecting a gel and liquid compound into the joint, usually the knee, and has shown promise in providing varying amounts of relief. Though not for long-term use, cortisone injections can also help manage severe pain flare-ups.
Common misconceptions about joint replacement
An estimated 40 percent of Americans with chronic joint pain have not consulted a physician, and 57 percent of those diagnosed are not receiving treatment. Fully half of all who could benefit from total joint replacement put it off, suffering needless pain as a result.
In fact, many people think joint problems are just for the elderly and hold common misconceptions about joint replacement.
- I'm not old enough. If you are in your 50s and joint pain is threatening your active lifestyle, you're a candidate for relief. Exciting advances in design and materials have been developed to extend the lifespan of prosthetic joints, making replacement an attractive option at ever younger ages. Though there are no guarantees and a second replacement may be necessary, new joints are now designed to last 15-20 years, and joint replacement technology continues to advance.
- I don't have time for an extended recovery. The Avista Joint & Spine Care Center has embraced a unique wellness model designed to get you back home and back to doing what you love sooner than ever. That, combined with advances in anesthesia, surgical techniques and pain management, contributes to faster recovery.
- I'm afraid of surgery. Most people are afraid, until they are armed with the facts. That's why we place such an emphasis on providing you with information, so you will know exactly what to expect. The truth is, many joint replacement surgeries are minimally invasive, general anesthesia is increasingly rare, and new pain management options are highly successful.
For many, setting aside these misconceptions is the first and most important step toward saying goodbye to joint pain. The facts are clear. You don't have to wait to get relief, and there's simply no need to suffer. Contact a Denver / Boulder Orthopedic Joint Specialist to discuss treatment options.