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Managing Joint Pain

woman hold knee that shows bone x-ray and red for pain

You might not pay much attention to your joints until they hurt. Suddenly one morning, just getting out of bed hurts. Maybe your elbow gets sore when you play tennis. Or you feel pain when typing on the keyboard at work.

The pain can be subtle. Or it can suddenly overpower your life, making movement difficult and bearing any sort of weight excruciating. Joint pain can appear as discomfort, pain, or inflammation from any part of a joint such as cartilage, bone, ligaments, tendons, or muscles.

Inflammation, in fact, almost always accompanies joint pain. With inflammation, your body responds to injury or infection by releasing chemicals into your blood and the affected tissue. Besides redness, warmth, and swelling, the inflammatory process can stimulate nerves and create pain.

White blood cells mobilize to the scene of the crime: In this case, an injured or infected joint. Irritation, wearing down of cartilage, and swelling of your joint lining can result. Stiffness and soreness are signs of inflammation. Flu-like symptoms including fatigue, fever, chills, and muscle stiffness can also indicate inflammation.

Chiropractic care can complement conventional treatments for joint pain and offer safe alternatives to pharmaceutical drugs.

Not getting quality sleep, physically demanding work, a sedentary lifestyle, overly strenuous exercise, and poor breathing can impact your spine. What impacts your spine also affects your entire body, and joint pain is no exception.

Other Natural Ways to Reduce Joint Pain

Working with your chiropractor and other healthcare practitioners can help reduce the pain and inflammation that accompanies joint pain. They can also address the underlying causes that create those symptoms.

But how you eat and live on a day-to-day basis can improve joint health. To reduce the pain and inflammation that often go with joint pain, incorporate these five strategies into your health routine.

Eat an anti-inflammatory diet. The best way to lower joint pain and inflammation is at the end of your fork. Eat plenty of green leafy vegetables. Be sure to remove the foods that cause inflammation too, including refined carbohydrates, processed foods, and vegetable oils like corn oil.

Maintain a healthy weight. Carrying extra weight puts more pressure on your joints, especially your knees, hips, and feet. Finding your goal weight and staying there can decrease pain, improve mobility, and prevent damage to your joints.

Get consistent exercise. Staying active helps you maintain a healthy weight, but regular fitness also supports joint flexibility. If working out or even walking fast feels impossible with joint pain, consider low-impact, low-joint stress exercises like water aerobics or swimming.

Incorporate hot and cold therapy. You can ease mild joint pain — and reduce the symptoms of more severe joint pain — in the comfort of your own home. Apply ice or frozen vegetables to painful joints 15 – 20 minutes several times each day. To relax muscles and increase circulation, apply a heating pad, soak in a hot bath, or take a warm shower. At night, use an electric blanket or moist heating pad to support achy joints.

Get the right supplements. Research shows certain nutrients can help improve the pain, inflammation, and other symptoms of joint pain while supporting healthy joints. Among the best-studied ones include:

  • Glucosamine and chondroitin, both components of healthy cartilage, can help reduce joint pain and reduce function.

  • Magnesium, a workhorse mineral that helps strengthen bones, maintain nerve and muscle function, supports joint cartilage, and helps you relax.

  • Omega-3 fatty acids can reduce morning stiffness, tenderness, swelling, and discomfort associated with joint pain while increasing blood flow. Researchers recommend one to three grams of EPA and DHA — the two-primary omega-3 fatty acids — to get these and other benefits.

  • The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits of curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, can improve the symptoms of joint arthritis.

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