But one thing never changes: chronic joint pain can affect a patient’s quality of life, making daily tasks and activities feel like a hindrance.
When it comes to relief, many people start with over-the-counter joint pain relievers, including pain relievers such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and naproxen, or topical pain relievers.
«Pain that is so severe or persistent that it is often dependent on medication may indicate a larger problem to address,» explained Dr. John Fackler, an orthopedic surgeon at Houston Methodist Hospital. -over-the-counter pain relievers or joint pain products, be sure to consult your doctor.»
«Over-the-counter pain relievers may provide short-term relief, but they don’t treat the cause of joint pain, and they can cause severe gastric problems with prolonged use,» explained Dr. Fackler.
«Instead, they simply reduce or control the perception of pain. This may be all you need at the onset of joint pain, but eventually you can build tolerance and need to take these medications more and more as your condition progresses.»
Dr. Fackler cautioned against relying on over-the-counter pain relievers for more than a week without first consulting your doctor.
«Certainly anyone can overdo these medications, especially if they don’t provide adequate pain relief,» Dr. Fackler said. «For all their strength, these drugs are not intended for long-term use. For example, frequent use of ibuprofen and naproxen can irritate the stomach, cause heartburn, and even severely damage the stomach, intestines, kidneys, liver and heart».
It’s also important to make sure that any pain relievers you’re taking don’t interfere with other medications you’re taking. Your doctor can help you confirm this fact. And instead of relying on pain relievers for a long period of time, talk to your doctor about the best way to treat joint pain if it persists.
«Over-the-counter pain relievers are just one of the many tools we have in our arsenal to combat joint pain,» explained Dr. Fackler. «It’s actually best to go back to these drugs very occasionally as a way to help complement the other, longer lasting therapies for treating joint pain.»
8 More Ways to Relieve Joint Pain
Taking joint pain medication isn’t the only way to get relief.
«There are many ways to address chronic joint pain, and your doctor can help you understand where to start,» Dr. Fackler said.
1. Exercise and stretching
2. Modifying your diet
3. Losing weight, if you are overweight
4. Applying heat and ice
5. Physical therapy
6. Prescription pain medications
7. Injectable medications
8. Surgery, including joint replacement
For example, regular exercise, a healthy diet, and weight loss can help improve joint mobility, reduce joint inflammation, and decrease pressure on the joints, all of which can help relieve joint pain.
Your doctor may also recommend physical therapy, in which specific exercises are used to strengthen the muscles around the affected joint and improve range of motion. This can help further reduce pain and stiffness in the joint.
«Depending on the underlying cause of your pain and the remedies you’ve already tried, your doctor can help you determine the next steps to treat your pain,» Dr. Fackler concluded.
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