Health

Dealing with Pain: Joint Pain, Sciatica, Arthritis

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Pain is something that we all deal with from time to time, but for some people, it can become a major part of their life. Some of the most common conditions that cause people pain on a consistent basis are joint pain, sciatica, and arthritis. Read on to learn more about these conditions, what causes them, and how they can be treated.

Joint Pain

Joint pain refers to pain in the places where your body bends, usually in the arms and legs. Pain in the joints could be caused by any number of things. Any damage to the connective tissue between bones can cause joint pain, and that damage could come from a medical condition, overuse, or injury. Different conditions like osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, sprains, and strains can lead to painful joints. Treatment is dependent on the cause of your joint pain. Over-the-counter medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) can provide relief for moderate joint pain. If you suffer from severe joint pain, your doctor may prescribe you an opioid medication. In addition, topical agents may be applied to areas to relieve joint pain caused by arthritis and other conditions. Two recommended topical agents that can be used to relieve joint pain are capsaicin medicated cream and methyl salicylate topical.

Sciatica

Sciatica refers to pain that stems from the sciatic nerves that run from the lower back down the backs of the legs. Sciatica commonly occurs when a herniated disk compresses part of the nerve on the spine or narrowing of the spine, causing inflammation and pain to occur. It can cause pain in the back, hips, behind, and legs, numbness, tingling, either constantly or only occasionally. Treating sciatica is often done through prescribed medications such as anti-inflammatories and muscle relaxants. Physical therapy, steroid injections, and surgery are other measures that can be taken as well depending on the extent of pain.

Arthritis

Arthritis refers to a collection of hundreds of conditions that cause inflammation in the joints. This happens when cartilage tissue starts to break down in your joints, causing pain and other health problems. Common types of arthritis are rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and osteoarthritis, but there are actually over 100 different types of arthritis. Treatment will vary depending on the type, but commonly, steroids, anti-inflammatories, and physical therapy are prescribed.

To get an idea of what might be causing your pain, you can use WebMD’s Symptom Checker below. Be as specific as possible about the location and nature of your pain to narrow down the likely causes of your symptoms. Keep in mind that this is no substitute for proper medical treatment and you need a formal evaluation by a medical professional to get a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

Alternative Medicine

Alternative therapies for treating pain are gaining popularity in the medical world. Some of these alternative forms of medicine include acupuncture, chiropractic therapy, and taking supplements.

Acupuncture

A form of ancient Chinese alternative medicine, acupuncture is a process where hair-thin needles are inserted into the skin to attempt pain relief in various areas of the body. Acupuncture has the power to stimulate the body’s nerves and muscles, relieving joint aches and stimulating the body’s natural healing abilities. If this is a route that you are considering taking, be sure to check if your acupuncturist is certified by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM).

Chiropractic Therapy

Visiting a chiropractor might be an avenue to consider when thinking about treatment options for dealing with pain. If you experience restricted spinal mobility, certified chiropractors can perform spinal adjustment (manipulation) in an effort to restore spinal movement and decrease pain. In addition to restoring movement of the spine, chiropractors can adjust joints to improve their function, release tension, and reduce pain in the area.

Joint Pain Supplements

Supplements are a simple way to work towards relieving pain either in the joints or other areas of the body. A few supplements that some people find helpful in managing joint pain from arthritis include glucosamine, omega-3 fatty acids, green tea, and vitamin D. Glucosamine works towards keeping the cartilage in joints healthy, and it may have anti-inflammatory properties as well. In addition, Omega-3 fatty acids and green tea can help to control and ease inflammation. Vitamin D is important because vitamin D deficiency can lead to pain in the joints. Consider implementing supplements into your daily routine to work through dealing with pain.

No matter what your pain stems from, it’s important to know that you have options for treating it. Whether that is taking the route of seeing a doctor and receiving prescribed medications or topical agents for it, or simply going down the alternative medicine route, the choices are wide and at your disposal.

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