Use PRICE (and 3 Other Methods) to Relieve Joint Pain

Ice on wrist
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Chronic joint pain is a medical issue that can greatly debilitate a patient and impair their daily functioning. Joints are the connections between bones, providing support to your musculoskeletal system and aiding in body movement—therefore, joint damage can impair movement and cause aggravating pain to those afflicted.

Chronic joint pain can arise from many different conditions, ranging from injuries such as strains, sprains, or fractures to conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout, or osteoarthritis.

Common forms of joint pain include knee, shoulder, hip, and ankle joint pain.

While approximately one-third of American adults today report having joint pain, as patients age the occurrences of joint pain increase dramatically. Regardless of the severity of joint pain, the swelling and pain, either acute or long-term, can reduce the number of activities patients can do and greatly decrease the quality of life. So, what can you do to reduce it?

Traditional Methods of Curing Joint Pain

There are many ways to treat chronic joint pain, mainly through medication, physical therapy, and alternative treatments. Medication is used to treat moderate-to-severe conditions, with doctors prescribing NSAIDs such as aspirin, naproxen, and ibuprofen. However, if the joint pain is severe enough, doctors may prescribe opioid medications to these patients.

Sometimes local injections to the afflicted areas containing steroid medications can be administered if oral medication does not provide relief.

There are always risks associated with using medication for chronic pain management. Symptoms can arise from taking medication. For example, NSAID side effects include a risk of gastrointestinal bleeding, while opioids can lead to constipation, drowsiness, and long-term dependence and addiction. While injections can temporarily make a patient feel pain relief, the injection could mask the severity of the injury, causing the patient to overuse the joint and cause even further damage to the joint.

Physical therapy is a popular treatment method that many doctors refer chronic pain patients to in order to strengthen the muscles surrounding the joint to stabilize it, as well and to improve the patient's range of motion. Alternative treatments including supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin, components of normal cartilage, can improve joint function and reduce pain.

Independent Treatments for Joint Pain

While it is important to seek medical help immediately in regards to joint pain, there are many independent home exercises and regimens patients can do in order to relieve symptoms.

PRICE Method:

This method is used for short-term joint pain and involves a few simple techniques that can be done in the comfort of a patient's home. PRICE is an acronym for the method that involves:

  • Protect: using a brace or a wrap to protect the joint from further injury by immobilizing it from certain movements

  • Rest: resting the joint and afflicted area by avoiding any activities that cause pain

  • Ice: icing the joint and afflicted area for about 15 minutes multiple times a day to relieve pain and inflammation

  • Compress: tightly compressing the joint and afflicted area using an elastic wrap

  • Elevate: raising the joint and afflicted area above heart level several times a day

The PRICE method can be used every day or as needed, and these simple techniques and methods can greatly reduce joint pain or even prevent it in certain cases.

Daily Exercise

Many studies have found that regular exercise can greatly reduce the onset of joint pain, improve daily function, and relieve joint pain symptoms, especially in patients suffering from chronic joint pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis. The benefit of exercise is not just physiological but also mental. Exercising decreases depression and the fatigue that chronic joint pain patients often feel. This coupled with reduced pain long-term and even improved sleep makes exercise a simple way to ease chronic joint pain symptoms as well as make your body feel better as a whole!

A simple daily exercise that patients can perform anytime and anywhere is simply walking. Walking is a simple exercise that is free and an easy exercise that is mild on joint pain. An easy 20 minutes of walking daily has been found to improve joint pain significantly and is a good stepping stone to harder exercises such as running or cycling that will improve joint pain even more.

Swimming is also a great exercise for patients suffering from joint pain since the pool allows patients to stretch their muscles in an environment that is soothing to the joints. Aerobic workouts are not only an exercise that is easy on the joints, but also a great means of weight control and boosting overall health.

Doctors recommend that any type of aerobic exercise such as walking, biking, or swimming as little as three times a week for sessions lasting 30-60 minutes each can greatly improve joint pain and help patients' daily functioning and quality of life.

Yoga and Tai Chi

Many people have turned to the practice of yoga and tai chi to aid in all kinds of conditions and chronic pain, and chronic joint pain is no exception. Joints and muscles in pain can cause impaired coordination and lead to loss of position awareness, balance, and a high risk of falling. Activities such as yoga and tai chi are calming exercises that work to improve balance and body awareness, which is perfect for people suffering from joint pain. These practices have been found to not only improve balance and coordination, but patients also find an increase in body flexibility as well as an increase in their range of motion, especially in areas of the body afflicted by muscle and joint pain.

Increase Daily Activities at Home

A simple increase in the amount of tasks you do, either at work or at home, has been found to relieve the pain caused by joint pain. Tasks such as cleaning the house or yard work like gardening, raking leaves, and pulling weeds all engage the entire body, leading to a thorough exercise for the whole body and for painful joints. These tasks at home often require balancing and body coordination, which are great ways to improve strength and balance. Simply being on your feet more can greatly increase a patient's mood, which aids in relieving the symptoms of joint pain.

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