Be proactive about your joint pain8 years ago | Senior Health
By pH health care professionals
Joint pain occurs inside or around a single joint connecting two bones, and it can have a multitude of causes. For kids and young adults, joint pain typically comes from injuries (such as falls, sports trauma or accidents), which usually heal after a few weeks. However, joint pain in the middle and later years of life is often related to wear and tear or inflammation, and tends to be more chronic. Statistically, 1/3 of the population has arthritis in one or more joints by the age of 65. With age, joint pain tends to increase, but it does not have to be inevitable.
Here are some of the causes of join pain:
- Seemingly minor joint injuries that turn into chronic joint pain. There are many examples: The football player who gets tackled and twists the knee, the basketball player who goes for a rebound and sprains the ankle, a driver who gets whiplash from a car accident, the baseball pitcher whose shoulder starts hurting, or the tennis player who develops pain in the elbow. These are all acute injuries and the thing that they all have in common is that they tend to heal initially, but the residual damage can add up over time with wear and tear on the cartilage, ligaments and muscles. For example, if ligaments get stretched or torn, this causes abnormal joint motions leading to accelerated joint wear and tear, cartilage damage, inflammation, reduction in joint space and limitations of motion.
- Inflammation in the body. Joints may not only be affected by injuries and excessive overuse, but also by inflammation caused by illnesses like rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and infectious and autoimmune diseases. This is frequently accompanied by accumulation of fluid leading to puffiness and limited motion.
- Deficiencies of vitamins and minerals. Although bones and cartilage appear to be solid, they also contain water. If you aren’t drinking enough water, your joint surfaces may get drier and porous, and this decreases tissue elasticity and cushioning. Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones, and having a vitamin D deficiency, though often overlooked, increases your risk for joint pain. You should also be aware of your calcium and magnesium levels, as these minerals are critical for healthy bones. Certain conditions and medications can cause mineral loss and lead to weaker bones. A few in particular to talk to your doctor about include steroid medications, diuretics, kidney diseases and even drinking cola soda drinks.
So how can you naturally reduce joint pain?
- Reduce stress on aching joints. Limit or avoid activities that aggravate the joints. Modify your activities to allow injuries to heal. Try low-impact exercises such as water fitness classes, biking or using the elliptical machine to reduce any excess weight you’re carrying.
- Tend to your joint. Rest, ice and elevate any injuries, and use anti-inflammatory medication when needed. Use support braces, bandages or tapes to improve stability.
- Strengthen the area, gently. Do low-resistance exercises to maintain your joint’s range of motion and strengthen the muscles around the joint.
- Ask a health care professional about some of the following natural supplements:
- Glucosamine and chondroitin are associated with decreased pain and improved joint function.
- MSM is a useful supplement for improving symptoms of arthritis.
- SAM-e is natural occurring in the body, and when supplemented, was shown to improve joint pain and have multiple benefits including improvements in mood and depression.
- Omega-3 fatty acids, among many other health benefits, may assist with improved mineral absorption and bone strength.
- Vitamin D is essential for bone health, and vitamin C can strengthen various tissues.
- Probiotics facilitate a healthy diversity of beneficial gut bacteria, which have multiple positive effects such as facilitating absorption of essential bone minerals and reducing inflammation in the gut and the whole body.
- THIAA (tetrahydro-iso-alpha acids) suppresses inflammatory mechanisms in the joint.
- Herbs such as devil's claw, turmeric and bromelain were found to have an anti-inflammatory and mild analgesic effect in osteoarthritis.
- Other supplements that can promote better bone health, especially if there is a deficiency, include magnesium, calcium, zinc, copper, selenium, manganese and potassium.
At Proactive Health Labs, we carry science-based supplements that you can only get through a health care professional. Stop by to discuss which solutions might be best for you.
If your joint pain is persistent for more than 1-8 weeks or severe enough to interfere with your daily tasks, mobility or sleep, or you notice it getting worse, you may need to see a specialized physician (orthopedic or sports medicine) and physical therapist. It is important to establish an exact diagnosis of your joint pain, since this is essential to focus toward the most optimal combination of medical treatments, natural strategies and supplements to improve and even eliminate joint pains.
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