Disease or injury to any joint can impede movement and create pain. If you struggle with joint pain, you’re not alone. About one-third of adults reported joint pain within the past 30 days in one survey.  

Joints connect bones. They link your skeletal system so your body can function. Depending on where they are located, joints allow different degrees and types of movement.  Some joints, like the suture joints in your skull, don’t move at all and are fixed. Others may move a little, such as your vertebrae. Other joints that move include your neck, shoulders, wrist, knees, and elbows.

Never Ending Story

Depending on its severity, you might be able to manage mild joint pain at home. But if swelling, redness, tenderness, and warmth surround the joint, you should go see your healthcare practitioner

Joint deformity, intense pain, sudden swelling, and not being able to use a joint are other signs to consult a healthcare practitioner immediately

How your healthcare practitioner handles your joint pain depends on the type of disease, your age, overall health, medical history, and how severe your symptoms are

Diagnosing your condition early and finding ways to treat it — including lowering inflammation — can limit joint damage and reduce the symptoms of joint pain. The overriding goal for treatment is to reduce pain and inflammation while supporting joint function

During your visit, your healthcare practitioner will conduct a complete medical history and physical exam. He or she will evaluate your joint symptoms as well as other symptoms that might occur. They might also do X-rays, blood tests, or other types of evaluations to determine what causes your joint pain

Some healthcare practitioners use over-the-counter and pharmaceutical drugs to treat the symptoms of joint pain and inflammation. Some of them, such as analgesics, can reduce pain, but not inflammation

Others, like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), help manage inflammation, but create side effects such as stomach pain and ulcers

Other Natural Ways to Reduce Joint Pain

Working with your 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, berries, nuts, and seeds including walnuts and flaxseeds, extra-virgin olive oil, and fatty fish. 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.