Joint Pain

Life takes its toll on the body, and when it comes to everyday aches and pains, a lot of the burden is going to fall on the joints. After all, they’re responsible for movement, carrying weight, and all the pressures that go with that. No wonder joint pain is so common!

Older people are more likely to experience joint pain thanks to the natural deterioration that comes with age. That doesn’t mean the young are safe, however. Every joint – toes, ankles, knees, hips, fingers, wrists, elbows, shoulders and neck, to name just a few – can be at risk for a wide range of reasons.

Sometimes it’s as simple as a sprain or strain after exercise. These will probably fix themselves with some rest and recovery. Other times, it’s a longer-term worry, like arthritis. We can’t cure arthritis, and it does tend to get worse as it goes on. In these cases, it’s more about management. Of course, you need an accurate diagnosis from a doctor first, whether it’s a general practitioner or a specialist.

The starting point for any joint pain is to rest it but not to stop moving completely. Remember the popular acronym “RICE”. That stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation. Rest it on a cushion above the rest of your body and apply an ice pack for maybe 20 minutes at a time. Painkillers can help, too, but only the right sort at the right time. Be sure not to carry any heavy loads.

If these techniques aren’t helping or the pain has continued for a week or two, it may be time to seek help. A high temperature or feeling shivery may mean you have an infection, in which case you need urgent attention. The exact treatment will vary depending on the location of the joint or the cause of the injury, but it could include physiotherapy, surgery, stronger painkillers or antibiotics. Further scans or tests may be needed.

Some pain and deterioration in the joints may be unavoidable, but you can reduce your risk with a healthy lifestyle (balanced diet and plenty of exercise) and manage symptoms if they do occur. With help, you can improve your movement, lessen the pain and still lead a happy and well-functioning life. Your joints are incredibly important and absolutely worth looking after carefully. Don’t ignore them.

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