Joint pain. Millions of people live with it every day. For sufferers, it affects all aspects of their lives, from their mental health to their family life, to work, social activities, and physical health.
Joints are essential for our flexibility. Joints or series of joints give us the ability to move through an unrestricted range of motion. When that movement causes pain, it inhibits our decisions to go about everyday tasks. Going for a walk, shopping, or playing a favorite sport can seem like a burden rather than an enjoyable activity.
Joint pain can range from mild discomfort to severe pain or inflammation in any part of a joint, as well as the supporting structures around the joint. The most common causes include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, bursitis, gout, muscular strains, ligament sprains, and broken bones.
If you are living with that pain, dealing with it is at the top of your mind throughout the day. We’ll look at home remedies and three different kinds of injections that could ease your joint pain.
Yes, there are ways to treat joint pain at home, but first, a note of caution. Not all joint pain is the same. Joint pain can be a warning sign that should prompt you to talk to a health care provider. But if you are considering home remedies, there are three actions that you should take immediately after first noticing joint pain:
- Rest: Rest and protect the injured or sore area. Stop, change, or take a break from any activity that may be causing your pain or soreness.
- Ice: Cold will reduce pain and swelling. Apply an ice or cold pack to your joint right away to prevent or minimize swelling. Apply the ice or cold pack for 10 to 20-minute sessions, three or more times a day.
- Heat: After 48 to 72 hours, if swelling is gone, apply heat to the joint area that hurts. Do not apply ice or heat directly to the skin. Place a towel over the cold or heat pack before applying it to the skin.
Practiced regularly, joint pain relief exercises might permit you to postpone — or even avoid — surgery on a problem joint. These exercises can help address issues that have been worsening for years by strengthening key supportive muscles and restoring flexibility. Physical Therapy can provide you with a path to learn how to do these exercises properly on your own.
Injections That May Help
Depending on your pain severity, injections can be another option for easing your joint pain and getting you moving again. These injections range from corticosteroids, which have been actively used for decades, to knee joint fluid replacement with hyaluronic acid to newer orthobiologic injections like platelet-rich plasma (PRP). Not every injection is right for every patient, and your doctor will decide which one is appropriate based on your individual needs.
Cortisone injections are the first line of defense against osteoarthritis symptoms and other joint pain in the shoulders, knees, and hips. They can help relieve joint pain and inflammation.
The injections usually contain a corticosteroid medication and a local anesthetic. The number of injections you can get in a year is limited because of potential side effects.
Hyaluronic Acid Injections (Viscosupplementation)
Viscosupplementation is a procedure in which a thick fluid called hyaluronate acid is injected into the knee joint. Hyaluronic acid mimics healthy, young synovial fluid in terms of molecular weight, elasticity, and viscosity. The injection helps lubricate the joint. It is only approved for use in the knee joint.
Viscosupplementation will not cure osteoarthritis of the knee. However, this therapy aims to reduce knee pain, improve mobility, and provide a higher and more comfortable level of activity. It is usually not considered until other treatment options have been tried and have not relieved your pain. Three to five injections, each one week apart, are typically required.
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) Injections
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections can treat osteoarthritis joint pain. PRP therapy takes a patient’s own blood, concentrates the platelets in that blood, and then reinjects them to accelerate the healing of injured tendons, ligaments, muscles, and joints. Research studies and clinical practice have also shown PRP injections can alter the immune response to help reduce inflammation.
Many of these injections often are effective in reducing or stopping your joint pain, but it’s important to remember that they may not keep the pain from returning. They’re most effective when used with other therapies. Weight loss and physical therapy can go a long way toward relieving pain. If other treatments have failed, Main Line Spine’s doctors and clinical team will consider more advanced options.