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Understanding and Avoiding Joint Pain

August 26, 2019

One out of every two people report having some sort of joint pain — that’s nearly half of us! But not all joint pain is the same, or has the same cause. Joint pain is more of an umbrella term for many different types of specific discomforts. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) predicts that by the year 2040, more than 78 million Americans will suffer from some form of severe joint pain. So, is there a way to prevent becoming one of those people? In order to understand how to prevent and alleviate specific types of joint pain, let’s talk about the most common causes, and steps you can take to avoid, and naturally treat, each of them.

Tendinitis

Made from collagen, a tendon provides a strong attachment site for muscle tissue to connect to bone. When a tendon becomes inflamed, this is what is known as tendinitis or tendonitis. You may know tendinitis by another name: Tennis Elbow. Despite the elbow being the most common site of tendinitis, it can occur anywhere a tendon is located, such as the ankle, hip, knee, and shoulder.

Tendinitis usually occurs from repetitive motion. For example, the constant swinging of the racket in tennis. But this repetitive motion isn’t exclusive to sports. You can develop tendinitis from doing household chores such as scrubbing, shoveling, and gardening. 

Weightlifting is also a common cause of tendinitis, especially when a weight falls on to the tendon. A direct impact to the tendon can cause inflammation.

How to Avoid a Tendinitis

Depending on your profession or sport, repetition may be unavoidable. If that’s the case, be sure to incorporate a comprehensive stretching and flexibility program into your current fitness routine. This will include warming up and stretching the entire body for 15 to 20 minutes. Deep tissue massage is also an excellent way to heal and strengthen tendon-connection sites.

Natural Remedies for Tendonitis

If you have tendinitis, immediately apply ice to the area in 15-minute intervals throughout the day. Depending on where the inflammation is occurring, you can wear a compression bandage to increase blood flow. Be rest to stop all activities associated with the inflammation. Take natural supplements such as curcumin (an ingredient found in turmeric) and ginger for inflammation.

Sprains

Considered one of the most common causes of joint pain and injury, a sprain occurs when damage is caused to the ligaments in a joint. A ligament is a thick bundle of tissue that ties together and holds your joints in place. 

Lifting too much weight too quickly, extending your joint far past its normal range of motion, or experiencing a direct injury such as a hard fall on the knee can damage the ligaments and the joint. Studies show that the most susceptible areas for a sprain are the ankles and wrists. 

How to Avoid a Sprain

The best way to avoid a sprain is to focus on strengthening the areas that are most prone to them. Incorporate more stretching and resistance exercises into your workout that target the following muscle groups:

  • Shoulders: rear deltoid raises, lateral dumbbell raises, overhead press
  • Forearms: reverse barbell curls
  • Wrists: dumbbell farmer’s walks
  • Knees: hip-dominant exercises such as side lunges, sumo squat, and bridge
  • Ankles: toe extensors and calf raises

Natural Remedies for Sprains

Most sprains, though are inconvenient and somewhat painful, are not a big deal; they heal on their own with proper rest and attention within a few weeks. To encourage proper healing, we recommend getting plenty of rest and staying off of the injured area. A sports massage followed by an Epsom salt bath can encourage blood flow and recovery as well. Ice and elevation proves to be great for sprains as well. 

Osteoarthritis

Another common type of reported joint pain is caused by osteoarthritis. On each end of a bone is a protective layer called cartilage, which acts as a cushion. Over time, the natural aging process can wear down this protective layer, causing inflammation and affecting mobility. Most common in the knees, hands, and spine, osteoarthritis cannot be cured or the damage undone, but you can improve your symptoms, alleviating much of the pain associated with it.

How to Avoid Osteoarthritis

Being overweight or obese can place immense stress on joints, quickening the development of osteoarthritis. Exercise is important for both joint health and weight management, but focus on low-impact exercises such as swimming. The ideal workout program will be a combination of resistance training and cardiovascular exercise.

Much like tendinitis, repetitive motions can quicken the wear and tear of the cartilage. Be cautious when performing tasks that require the same movement over and over again, such as twisting and kneeling, especially at work.

Natural Remedies for Osteoarthritis

Since osteoarthritis cannot be cured, only managed, you’ll want to make lifestyle changes to improve your condition. Adopting an anti-inflammatory diet and low impact exercise program is a key first step. After physical activity, be sure to apply ice. You can also use natural inflammation fighting supplements like curcumin and black seed oil, both powerful inflammation fighters, or a supplement that combines both

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Unlike osteoarthritis, in which normal wear-and-tear is the cause, rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the body’s immune system begins attacking its own joints. This auto-immune disease breaks down the soft tissue inside of the joints, resulting in inflammation, swelling, and pain. The most commonly reported areas impacted by rheumatoid arthritis are the knees, ankles, elbows, and wrists. Worse still, when one side of the body has rheumatoid arthritis, the other side usually has it as well.

Rheumatoid arthritis can be especially problematic because it impacts the soft tissue’s ability to create lubrication between the joints for normal mobility. Untreated rheumatoid arthritis can cause long-term complications including permanent cartilage damage. 

How to Avoid Rheumatoid Arthritis

Early diagnosis is key to limiting the damage caused by rheumatoid arthritis. Chat with your doctor if rheumatoid arthritis runs in your family.

Weight management is also important to avoid excess strain on the joints. Excess weight will put more pressure on your joints, especially the knees, which will in turn place more pressure on your ankles and exacerbate foot and balance problems. Choose foods that are anti-inflammatory and will not cause inflammation in the body and on the joints. Lifestyle choices can make a big difference, which is why it’s recommended you quit smoking, not use illegal drugs, and limit alcohol consumption.

Natural Remedies for Rheumatoid Arthritis

If you have rheumatoid arthritis, a regimen of daily cold therapy and self-reflexology can dramatically improve your symptoms. Low impact exercise that strengthens joints such as yoga can help to prevent flare ups. 

Be Safe: Stretch, Exercise, and Supplement

The best medicine against joint discomforts is prevention. Adopt a lifestyle that focuses on healthy, anti-inflammatory dietary choices, and engage in daily low-impact body movement and exercise. Better still, supplement daily with curcumin, which has been clinically shown to combat inflammation in the body associated with many types of pain, including joint pain. Most importantly, check in with your doctor on a regular basis if you believe you have a condition affecting your joints.

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