• 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.

    Non-surgical alternatives
    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.

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