Joint pain is one of those things that just about everyone can understand. Whether it is an ache in the back, stiff knees or difficulties moving different body parts, at one point in time, most people will feel pain in their joints. This kind of pain is no longer only for the elderly. People are reporting joint pain at younger ages than they have in the past.
Prevention Is Essential
Once joint pain is present, there are a number of things that can and should be done. However, what if there was something that could be done before the pain ever set in? For many people, avoiding joint pain is a simple process of being mindful. By understanding what causes joint pain, many can mitigate painful episodes with their joints. The key is prevention. While avoiding joint pain entirely isn’t always possible, through education and anticipation, many common reasons for pain can be avoided. This, in turn, can help to avoid common causes for joint pain in the future and greatly reduce the chances of damage, trauma, or injury that often come with painful consequences.
Prevention Through Understanding the Body
The body is much like a machine. If it is cared for and maintained properly, then it is likely to have increased longevity and work properly. While all things will come to an end eventually, the power of prevention lies in the ability to increase functionality and to reduce pain where and when you can. Furthermore, while certain ailments may ultimately lead to joint pain, prevention can assist with reducing the amount of pain felt and decreasing potential damage. All of this combined can help to ensure that the body remains in as good condition as it can for an optimal length in time.
The Function of Pain
Pain is an evolutionary tool that has developed in the body to act as a warning. It can indicate dangers in a number of ways and help a person understand that there is a need within their body that demands attention. Joint pain is often an indicator of:
- Wear and tear on the cartilage of the joints
- Exposed bone or bone fragments in the area around the joint
- Overextending of the joint
- Muscle damage or fatigue around the joint.
The purpose of pain in the joints specifically can indicate that the area needs to rest. Often, for example, swelling happens as a way for the body to protect itself. Swelling reduces the range of motion and makes it difficult for the joint to move. This can force a person to rest, even if they don’t want to, because the pain associated with it becomes unbearable if they move too much or do an activity that causes too much pressure on the joint.
Pain: Nature’s Way of Preventing Further Damage
The danger comes from extending the joint past pain. Sometimes people will ignore the pain or take pain medications to reduce the pain, but keep their regular activity level without making any adjustments. This can result in serious damage and generally is not a good idea. For this reason, any moderate to severe joint pain should be seen by a doctor and assessed. They will be able to suggest healthy ways to deal with the pain and provide the needed accommodations to allow the body to heal itself, or perform actions required to fix the issue causing the pain. For this reason, pain is sometimes the first preventative measure that can be addressed. When pain is experienced, rest and take the necessary steps to get the joint healthy in order to avoid pain in the future.
Prevention of Joint Pain Before Pain Occurs
While pain may be natures way of preventing future damage, it is often smarter to do what can be done to take care of the joints of the body in order to prevent pain altogether. Thankfully, this is a viable option for most people. By taking the appropriate precautions and providing the body with the care required to enable it to function properly it is possible to avoid instances of joint pain that could otherwise be quite uncomfortable and debilitating.
Because there are different contributing factors to joint pain, it is smart to take those into account when trying to practice. Depending on the cause of the potential painful joints, there are a number of ways that you can take preventative measures to avoid discomfort in the future.
Preventing Joint Pain From Exercise and Strain
One of the most common causes of painful joints is overexertion through activities such as exercise. Sexual intercourse, running to catch the bus, or packing and moving homes are other activities that can potentially cause strain as well. The following tips, done before the activity, can help to avoid damage and reduce potential pain.
If strain from an activity is a concern, consider trying the following tips to avoid painful joints afterward.
- Stretch before and after any activity that can cause potential strain.
- Hydrate before being active. Continue to take fluids in order to maintain hydration. This will also reduce the depletion of nutrients or electrolytes.
- Don’t overdo it.
- If introducing a new exercise routine, talk to a primary care physician to be sure that your body can handle the kind of activity level anticipated.
Avoiding Painful Joints Due to Computer Work and Desk Jobs
While overexertion can cause strain, limited range of motion can be just as harmful to the joints. This is because joints are designed to move and bend. When they stay in the same position for long periods of time the body can interpret the lack of movement as a potential trauma. Swelling can set in and this is often quite painful. Another culprit for joint pain while sitting at a desk job or while working on a computer is the small micro-movements that take place in these situations. The body is meant to move in certain ranges, but often desk and computer work require smaller and repetitive movements that require dexterity and suppleness to keep the joints bending smoothly.
Try the following tips to reduce painful joints while working on a computer or while working at a mostly sedentary position:
- Allow time for breaks. Every 30 minutes to an hour, stand up and stretch.
- Set up a workspace in an ergonomic fashion that adequately supports the natural position for the body.
- Avoid hunching or slouching.
Avoiding Joint Pain Later in Life
It is estimated that one in four people will experience some form of arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and generally will cause pain and stiffness after the age of 40. Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is generally one of those diseases that affect a person later in life, but there is a form of the disease that develops in the later teen years called Juvenile Onset RA and this can cause a lifetime of debilitating pain for a person. Because arthritis is hereditary, it is smart to take extra care and precautions with your body if you are at risk. Additionally, being hard on the body in younger years is a surefire way to develop arthritis later on.
Tips to Prevent Pain Later in Life
The best ways to prevent joint pain later in life include:
- Providing the body with the essential vitamins and nutrients to keep bones strong. A body that is given ample calcium and Vitamin D from an early age is more likely to develop stronger bones, which in turn plays a huge role towards the overall health and painfulness of joints in the later years.
- Strengthening muscles and keeping them strong will support joint function.
- Stretching keeps the joints limber and allows for more range of motion.
- Staying active is required to keep the joints moving.
- Wear appropriate shoes. Shoes with support, such as sneakers or tennis shoes are going to provide the most support. Nursing shoes or support shoes are great options as well, especially for people that are routinely on their feet. Avoid high heels, or at least keep the height in check because heels can cause damage to the foot, knee, and hip over time.
- Aim for ideal body weight, while considering size and weight. Joints can only take so much pressure and the more weight you have to carry around, the more stress that is being put on the body.
What You Can Gain From No Pain
Essentially, when it comes to joint care, the earlier you act, the better. Joints have only a finite amount of pressure and stress that they can take, before breaking down. For this reason, it is vital to take preventative measures to ensure healthy joints. The more pain that is prevented, means more steps that can continue to be taken later in life. The entire process of joint care is circular. The earlier preventative measures are taken, the longer that those measures can continue.
Don’t Give Up Because of Pain
For those that experience joint pain already, know that much of this pain can be reduced by remaining active. Walking, low-impact exercises, staying hydrated and practicing proper stretching techniques can all contribute to reducing joint pain. For those with severe pain, there is likely another cause beyond the traditional or typical culprits. For those with health concerns, always work with a primary care provider. They can advise which tips will be the best for you.