Hey, my knee just popped!
Last week we continued a series of blog posts dedicated to addressing therapies for the most common types of physical pain, with a review of remedies for sore muscles. We pick up the gauntlet in week three here. . .
A review, what is pain?
Pain is the body’s way of letting you know something is wrong. Pain occurs in many different ways and on many levels. Because pain is such a subjective concept, this article will focus on what I see in my practice.
Generally, my patients experience one of the following four types of pain:
- Back pain
- Sore muscles
- Joint pain
This week, we will deal with Category Three, joint pain.
Joints: everybody’s got them. . .
. . . and at one time or another they hurt. Sometimes a little sometimes a lot, but it usually takes a considerable amount of time to get over joint pain.
To understand why, we need to understand the anatomy. Humans have a complex skeletal system so lets break it down. We have six major types of joints.
- Ball and socket
The joints I treat most often are Ball and Socket joints, such as your hip and shoulder joints; Hinge joints, like your knee and elbow; and Swivel joints, like your vertebrae (think base of your skull/neck ache).
Why do my joints hurt?
In my practice, I see people with varying degrees of joint pain. Here’s what I’ve been treating. Athletes tend to have a range of pains, from overuse of the joint to an actual injury. Some are referred to me after they have had surgery to repair a ligament, tendon or muscle. The treatment for each instance is specific to that individual.
My less active or older people present with more chronic type pain and again, the treatment is specific to that individual. Most of the time their pain relates to a situation from earlier in life, such as a previous athletic activity or injury, or both. The other common cause is just the aging process. I hate that term, “the aging process,” but it is true that, as we get older, our joints become less fluid and our range of motion slowly decreases. We get diagnosed with “arthritis.” Bummer.
What do I do to alleviate joint pain?
Most of these people routinely take or have taken a pain reliever. Ibuprofen and acetaminophen are very common. The stronger stuff is mentioned too, but in every instance I hear, "it’s not working!" A patient might find temporary relief, but sustaining relief means he or she will have to continue consuming something that could be damaging the liver or worse. I’m not talking about the people that have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis or a degenerating disc/bone problem. These are medical conditions beyond the scope of my practice.
But I can tell you that we can lessen the impact of joint pain in most cases, even extreme ones.
Studies show manual therapies like Myofascial Release Therapy, Medical Massage or Neuromuscular reeducation go a long way in reducing any joint pain, especially after joint surgery and/or a rehabilitation regimen. The passive manipulation of the soft tissues around the joint help with circulation and blood flow ultimately strengthening the connective tissue.
It may seem counter-intuitive because I just mentioned that you can suffer from an injury from exercise that induces joint pain. The secret to avoiding joint pain is to use common sense. I mentioned earlier that I usually treat these cases specifically according to each individual. I design a body work program that is meant to reduce discomfort and reduce joint inflammation. The thing that applies to everyone with joint pain is keep moving if your able. Today we have all sorts of gym equipment and classes that take the stress off of the joints so the connective tissues that surround the joint can be strengthened. Find a certified fitness trainer and explain your situation. And PLEASE, PLEASE do not sign up for anything that has “Intense” or “Insane” or “Killer” in the title. Unless you play in the NFL, stay away from Cross Fit, too. These types of high-impact exercise programs keep me in business, and I don’t say that as a way of bragging. Ask your doctor if you can be cleared to exercise and ask about therapies as an alternative to prescription drugs.
I think this takes care of Category Three. If you have a question, submit it in the comment section. In the meantime, stay tuned. Next week, I'll wrap this series on pain relief with some tips for reducing headache pain.
Until next time, move it or lose it.
peace and love