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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.
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.
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.