Joint pain can be caused by a wide range of issues, from chronic conditions like arthritis to injuries that damage the joint. Sometimes a combination of these things leads to joint pain that does not go away, impacting your quality of life and have lifelong consequences. There are ways to manage joint pain at home, but it usually becomes enough that you start looking for an “orthopedic doctor near me.” Read on to understand some of the treatments that may be recommended or used to help ease your chronic joint pain.
1. Home Relief
Usually, the first things you will try for joint pain relief are simple home remedies. Inflammation can often be addressed by applying ice to the affected joint, while muscle spasms near the joint may be helped with heating pads. Classic advice like elevating the joint can also reduce swelling and prevent you from overworking the area.
2. Gentle Exercise
It may sound like exercise would make your pain worse, but low-impact movement is actually a great way to address joint damage. Extra weight is a common cause of pressure on the joints, so exercise may alleviate pain by leading to weight loss. It also keeps your joints moving so they don’t lock up and worsen over time. Swimming and biking are both low-impact exercises that can be good for the joints.
3. Physical Therapy
In addition to low-impact exercise that is self-guided, an orthopedic doctor near you will likely work with a physical therapist to develop a set of targeted exercises. The goal of physical therapy is usually to strengthen the muscles around your joints and improve range of motion, which can reduce the risk of further injury.
4. Topical Agents
While the source of your joint pain is inside the body, pain can often be managed with a topical treatment that is rubbed into the skin. Capsaicin is a common ingredient in these agents as it triggers the release of endorphins, blocking pain signals. These can be purchased at most drugstores without a prescription.
If your joint pain is severe, an orthopedic doctor near you may suggest medication as a method of pain management. Most times, you will start with over-the-counter pain medication that addresses inflammation in addition to your pain. If the pain is worse and impacts your quality of life, prescription medication may be an option, but it will need to be carefully managed and used in moderation.
6. Braces or Splints
One thing that makes joint paint difficult is that they are designed to move constantly, which causes more pain. This is especially true of the knee. In order to approve alignment and relieve knee pain, a brace might be used. You should always make sure a brace or splint is fit by your doctor to fit your particular joint and needs.
7. Alternative Treatments
In addition to working with an orthopedic doctor near you, many treatments for joint pain utilize alternative medicine. Options like a TENS unit, acupuncture, and yoga can all be used to help manage joint problems. Some people also rely on supplements that can improve cartilage, though these can interact with medication so you should always consult your doctor before taking them.
8. Steroid Injections
If minimally invasive treatments are not enough to relieve your joint pain, the next step will likely be steroid injections. Cortisone can help reduce inflammation around joints, so it is often injected near the problem area. These injections do have potential side effects, but many people rely on them for pain relief.
When your pain is serious, or your doctor cannot identify the root cause of the issue, more information may be needed to form a proper treatment plan. During a minimally invasive surgery called an arthroscopy, a small tube with a camera on it is inserted beneath the skin to provide a magnified view of the area. This can provide enough information to determine what further treatment may be needed.
10. Joint Replacement
If no other treatment has been effective, the most drastic treatment option is usually joint replacement surgery. An orthopedic surgeon will remove the damaged joint and replace it with an artificial joint made of plastic, metal, or some combination of the materials. These joints usually relieve pain entirely, though they need to be replaced after a decade or so.
If you are suffering from chronic joint pain and looking for an orthopedic doctor near you, contact AICA Atlanta today to schedule your first appointment.