Joint Pain and Joint Care

What are Joints?

They are the joining point between two bones which allows movement and usually work effortlessly. Gliding like well oiled machines until some vital part breaks down.

What Can Cause Joint Pain?

There may be several reasons for joint pain. Such as injury, fracture or plain old wear and tear.

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common condition which usually occurs in or after your middle age and often associated with wear and tear or injury. It is a degenerative condition which results in the breakdown, or loss of cartilage surrounding the joint, changing the way the joint surfaces come together. This causes aches, joint pain, swelling and stiffness. You may even feel or hear them cracking and crunching. It is the most common form of arthritis most likely to affect your hips, knees and the end joints of your fingers. It is also called Degenerative Joint Disease.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a chronic, progressive and disabling autoimmune disease and is incredibly painful. It is characterised by joint inflammation, with damage to the cartilage and bone around the joints. It can affect the ability to do everyday tasks and can cause severe disability. It most commonly affects the hands, feet and wrists although any joint may be affected. (RA) is also known as Atrophic Arthritis.

Gout is a metabolic disorder which occurs in the feet (especially the big toe). It is a painful intense swelling, caused by excess Uric Acid (a normal waste product). This accumulates in the body and deposits crystals in the joints. Foods such as shellfish or alcohol may increase Uric Acid levels, leading to attacks of gout.

Bursitis is an inflammation of a bursa (small fluid-filled sacs that provide cushioning between bones & tendons and/or muscles surrounding a joint). It is commonly caused by repetition of use and movement, or excessive pressure. The knee, elbow, shoulder or hip joint being the most often affected. The pain, tenderness, or limited motion caused, is usually worse during or after activity, with the joint area becoming stiffer the next day. Housemaid’s knee is a well known form of Bursitis.

Tendinitis is an inflammation of a tendon most commonly caused by over use, injury or aging as the tendon looses its elasticity. It causes pain and tenderness along a tendon, usually in close proximity to a joint. Most common in elbows, knees and shoulders but can also occur in heels and wrists. The pain is worse with activity and movement. Tennis Elbow or Golfers Elbow is another name used for Tendinitis.

Influenza (the flu) and Infectious diseases such as Measles, Mumps, Rubella and Rheumatic Fever are other causes of joint pain too.

How You Can Help Look After Your Joints.

Exercise will help your joints. You need frequent exercise (without over doing it) to build up muscle strength and control to support the joints. By keeping fit ensures good blood flow around the body, keeping joints healthy.

Drinking Lots of Water is important for maintaining healthy and hydrated body tissues and essential for the body’s maintenance, repair and protection.

Self Help for Osteoarthritis.

Everyone is affected differently by Osteoarthritis, but you are likely to be able to carry on with life as usual, you can have more control over it than you may think. You may not feel like it but regular exercise is good for you, helping you to lose any excess weight that you may have, which will put less strain on your joints. Gentle exercise will help strengthen your muscles, bones and ligaments and decrease pain, while at the same time increasing your general fitness and wellbeing. Swimming would be a good form of exercise, as this both exercises and strengthens your muscles without putting strain on your joints, the waters warmth and bouyancy makes movement much easier. Wearing the correct footwear will also help, shoes that have thick soft soles are much better and the use of a walking stick will take some pressure off those joints.

Self Help for Rheumatoid Arthritis.

You need to find a balance exercise and rest. Keeping active will prevent your joints from getting stiff and weak but don’t do too much. Again swimming is an excellent form of exercise, strengthening the muscles and joints without putting strain on them. Losing any excess weight that you may be carrying will reduce the pressure on your joints. Painful and stiff joints may be helped with a hot water bottle, try using an ice-pack if they are hot and irritated. Cutting down on saturated fats, with a healthy balanced diet is worth doing as well.

Self Help for Gout.

It’s best to try to rest the affected joint as much as possible, keeping it elevated. Drink lots of fluids such as water or squash to keep well hydrated and avoid drinking any alcohol during a gout attack. If the pain is intense, an immediate way to help with the pain is to apply ice to the affected area for about twenty minutes, but no more than twenty and do not put the ice directly onto your skin.

Self Help for Bursitis.

Protect those bursae near the surface of the skin with padding or protective gear. Those knees and elbows need looking after! Rest the affected area when it hurts. Don’t put any pressure on the swollen and sore area until the swelling goes down. An ice-pack can make an effective anti-inflammatory or pain relief. An elastic bandage may help (especially to the elbows and knees) but keep the area elevated. Keep moving the joint gently to help stop it from getting stiff.

Self Help for Tendinitis.

It’s wise to avoid carrying on with the activity that caused the injury to start with and rest the injury. This will prevent causing further damage and allow the inflammation to settle. Without resting the healing process may be delayed. You can use protection in the form of a sling, splint or elastic bandage, depending on your type of injury. Applying an ice-pack or even a hot bath or shower may help with the pain and swelling. If the tendonitis is in the knee, elevate your leg to reduce the swelling this will diminish the pain.

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