If you have chronic, undiagnosed joint pain the most likely culprit is arthritis. The CDC estimated that 22.7% of adults have already been diagnosed with arthritis! The most common locations for arthritis are the spine, the hips, the knees, and the hands.
Arthritis is more painful when affected joints move. That means when you work, play, or exercise arthritis pain increases, making things harder and less enjoyable.
What is Arthritis?
Mosby’s Medical, Nursing, and Allied Health Dictionary defines arthritis as “any inflammatory condition of the joints, characterized by pain, swelling, heat, redness, and limitation of movement. (127)”
Arthritis is when a joint becomes inflamed and painful. It usually doesn’t move as well as normal and can be swollen and warm to touch.
What Causes Arthritis?
There are basically 2 types of arthritis: Physical and chemical.
Physical arthritis is caused by trauma to the joint. This trauma cold be all at once, like from a car crash or a football tackle, or repetitive motions like typing on a keyboard. Physical arthritis is called Osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis.
Chemical arthritis is caused by disease. Often it is an immune response where your body’s immune cells attack the joints, as in rheumatoid arthritis. Treatment for chemical arthritis should include consulting with medical experts. There are hundreds of causes of chemical arthritis including: rheumatoid arthritis, gouty arthritis and arthritis caused by infection.
What can you do about it?
- Be physically active. Joints get their nutrition and hydration from movement. Every type of arthritis can benefit from joint movement. “Experts recommend that adults engage in 150 minutes per week of at least moderate physical activity”(CDC). The tricky part of this is that it is also important not to re-injure the joint. Low impact activities, such as walking, riding bicycles, or swimming are some of the best things to do because the joints get vital movement without very much force that could damage the joint fibers.
Do activities you enjoy, that move your joints, and that don’t cause sharp pain.
- Don’t smoke. Smoking slows healing (Research Gate). Smoking makes it more difficult to be active. Smoking leads to other health problems. If you don’t smoke, awesome. Keep it that way. If you do smoke, quitting will help your arthritis pain and your general health.
- Maintain a healthy weight. If you are overweight or obese much more force is applied to your joints with activity compared to when you are at a healthy weight. Maintaining a healthy weight will decrease the stress on your joints leading to less pain. (JAMA)
- Take Omega 3 Fish Oil. The fatty acid in fish oil has been shown to reduce inflammation and decrease pain (PubMed) It has been studied specifically for its effects with rheumatoid arthritis, and was shown to be effective at decreasing pain (PubMed).
- Seek chiropractic care. Chiropractic care can increase joint range of motion, allowing for more activity and increased joint hydration. Chiropractic adjustments can decrease pain. The Arthritis Foundation states that “It’s true that chiropractors manipulate or adjust the spine to improve pain and mobility” and that “If you’re looking for a non-medication way to take the edge off of those painful joints chiropractic medicine may be for you” (Arthritis Foundation)