FAQs on Joint Pain and Treatment Options in Nashville (Hip and Knee Pain, etc)

Joints form connections between individual bones. Any damage to a joint can interfere with movement and cause pain. These structures provide support and allow movement. Many conditions cause painful joints, such as osteoarthritis, bursitis, rheumatoid arthritis, strains, sprains, gout, and injuries. Joint pain is a common occurrence, with one national survey finding that one-third of American adults have joint pain.

What causes joint pain?

Osteoarthritis is the main cause of joint pain. This condition is characterized by loss of joint cartilage, which produces decreased mobility and joint pain. Joint pain from osteoarthritis affects 10% of men and 18% of women over the age of 60 years. Rheumatoid arthritis also causes joint pain, and it affects around 1% of the general population. This disease is the result of autoimmune problems in the body. Other causes of joint pain include:

  • Loose body – After an injury, a piece of cartilage or bone can break off and float around in the joint space, causing pain.
  • Dislocation – This occurs when a bone slips out of place, which is common with the shoulder, knee, and hip.
  • Gout – This occurs when uric acid crystals build in the joint, causing pain.

What symptoms are associated with joint pain?

Knee pain is the most common complaint associated with arthritis, followed by shoulder and hip pain. However, joint pain can occur in any joint—from the shoulders to the ankles. Joint pain can be mild and slightly irritating, or it can be severe and extremely debilitating. Joint pain often comes and goes, but it is known to affect quality of life. Joint pain occurs along with many other symptoms, such as swelling, redness and fever.

What are the treatment options for joint pain?

The treatment of joint pain depends on the underlying cause, the health of the patient, and the severity of the pain. Options include:

  • Oral medications – For mild to moderate joint pain with inflammation, the doctor will prescribe nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as naproxen or ibuprofen. In addition, new generation NSAIDs are used, which are called cox-2 inhibitors. For joint pain associated with muscle spasms, muscle relaxants are prescribed, or they can be used with NSAIDs for maximum effect.
  • Topical medications – Many topical agents are used to treat joint pain. These include capsaicin, methyl salicylate, and compounded agents.
  • Steroid joint injection – For people who do not respond to medications, the doctor may inject the joint with a long-acting corticosteroid. This agent decreases joint inflammation, offering long-term pain relief.
  • Arthrocentesis – When the joint accumulates too much fluid due to inflammation, the doctor can perform an arthrocentesis, which involves removal of the fluid. A needle is inserted into the joint space, and the fluid is aspirated out.
  • Hyaluronic acid injection – Approved for osteoarthritis of the knee, this substance works to lubricate and cushion the joint, simulating synovial fluid (liquid inside the joint). There are several types of hyaluronic injections, which are given in a series of three or one long-acting injection.
  • Physical therapy – Someone with joint pain can work with a therapist to strengthen the muscles around the joint, improve range of motion, and stabilize the structure. The therapist uses techniques like ultrasound, electrical stimulation, and heat/cold therapy to offer pain relief.

Resources

WebMD (2015). Joint pain. Retrieved from: http://www.webmd.com/pain-management/guide/joint-pain

Woolfl AD & Pfleger B (2003). Burden of major musculoskeletal conditions. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 81 (9).