Are Joint Injections The Right Choice For Pain Relief?
Occasional joint pain might be a minor nuisance. For example, starting a new exercise routine might cause temporary joint pain. But for some people, joint pain can be a constant unwanted companion. And while many individuals can manage discomfort with over-the-counter (OTC) medications, other people might need solutions only available via prescription or that must be administered in a medical facility. So, what options are available for joint pain sufferers?
NSAIDs and acetaminophen
For a quick and accessible remedy to treat minor to moderate joint pain, OTC medications frequently contain acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Available in a variety of formats, these drugs can be applied topically in the form of creams, ointments, and patches, or orally. Popular options include brands like Tylenol, Advil, and Motrin. However, both NSAIDs and acetaminophen aren’t without risks. Depending on an individual’s underlying health conditions or prescriptions, either medication may interact negatively.
Supplements to boost joint health
While not a direct pain relief solution, focusing on improving joint health can go a long way toward reducing discomfort. While the products aren’t as well researched as traditional medications, some studies have found that people with osteoarthritis may find that incorporating long-term glucosamine or chondroitin supplement can help to minimize symptoms over time. Specifically, the supplements are anti-inflammatory and work to reinforce cartilage structures in the joints. As a result, joint deterioration can be delayed.
Physical therapy for better joints
Many people might incorrectly assume that having sore joints means a person should engage in less activity. But in reality, the opposite is true. Research has proven that engaging in regular moderate exercise can help to improve joint health by strengthening the muscles around a joint. Similarly, undergoing physical therapy with a licensed professional can help joint pain sufferers learn how to improve posture and movements to reduce the incidence of pain.
For people with more serious joint pain, injections might be necessary. However, multiple options are available. In some cases, people will receive corticosteroid shots directly at the joint. Typically relief occurs very quickly. But because of the increased risk of adverse side effects, frequency is usually limited to a few times a year. Conversely, some people will benefit from hyaluronan shots. Hyaluronan is a naturally occurring substance in the joints and receiving supplemental hyaluronic acid directly at the site of joint pain has been proven effective in people with mild to moderate joint pain. However, pain relief may take anywhere from 1 to 3 months to have an effect.
Antidepressants for joint pain
Antidepressants might seem like an unlikely solution for treating joint pain, but the unusual medication choice has been proven to provide benefits. According to research, brain chemicals that are usually impacted by antidepressant medication are also involved in detecting pain in the brain. Still, this medication category isn’t usually the first choice for providing pain relief.
Protecting joint health
While medications are always a great option for managing pain, other natural options are also available to joint pain sufferers. Along with getting and staying active, focusing on maintaining a healthy weight can help to reduce joint strain. Meanwhile, other people have opted for homeopathic solutions such as acupuncture and massages. And some people swear by transcutaneous electrical stimulation (TENS). If joint pain makes everyday life more difficult, consider speaking with a specialist to determine the right treatment options to improve quality of life.
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