If you’re like most people, summer is the season where you’re most active. This could mean simply getting outdoors more or you might be traveling to another part of the country for vacation. If there’s one thing that can put a damper on your beach walks or mountain hikes, it’s sore, achy joints.
According to a recent poll conducted by the University of Michigan, it was reported that 70% of older adults reported experiencing joint pain. This makes joint pain one of the most common orthopedic issues adults face; however, there are measures individuals can take to mitigate pain and promote optimal joint health.
After breaking down the most effective tactics to maintain pain-free joints, we will provide information on how to find an orthopedic doctor near you and when it’s time to consult with an orthopedic surgeon.
#1 – Remain Active
An unused joint is more prone to stiffness, pain, and decreased range of motion. To prevent symptoms of discomfort, individuals are encouraged to regularly engage in exercise and stretches that promote flexibility and strength in the joint. Cycling, walking, swimming, and other low-impact exercises are ideal.
#2 – Stay Within an Ideal Weight Range
Being overweight puts an incredible amount of duress on the joints, especially the knees. According to Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center, being 10 pounds overweight increases the force on the knees by up to 60 pounds per step. Staying within a healthy weight range helps reduce the stress put on your knees and other joints.
#3 – Use a Brace or Other Supportive Device
Supportive devices, such as braces, help reduce the amount of weight being put on the joint while restricting its range of motion. Athletes who have suffered a knee or joint injury in the past rely on braces as a means of recovery; however, they can be used by anyone who requires additional joint stability. Active individuals will find braces allow them to exercise for longer periods of time with less discomfort.
#4 – Ice and Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers
Some individuals only experience joint pain occasionally or after engaging in physical activity. Those who require temporary relief are encouraged to ice the affected areas to help reduce blood flow and swelling. Additionally, over-the-counter pain relievers and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications can be used to provide further relief (use only as directed). If you find you are becoming more reliant on pain relievers, this may be a sign it’s time to set up an appointment with an orthopedic doctor to get examined.
#5 – Physical Therapy
For those who are suffering with arthritis, physical therapy (PT) is a prescribed exercise regimen that is intended to mitigate symptoms of pain and increase joint mobility. When working with the physical therapist, patients will notice their strength, balance, and range of motion improves, resulting in an increased ability to engage in daily activities.
#6 – Targeted Injections
Those who are suffering from chronic joint pain and have yet to find relief through activity modification, weight loss, or using a supportive device may need to investigate other options. If you’re currently working with an orthopedic doctor, they may recommend steroid or hyaluronic acid injections. These targeted injections help patients find pain relief and reduce the inflammation in the joint; however, it’s worth noting the benefits of targeted injections are temporary. They will not cure the root cause of the issue.
#7 – Holistic Treatments
There are numerous holistic methods that can be used in treating joint pain, especially for those who are suffering with arthritis. For instance, the Arthritis Foundation reports that people who engage in yoga see a reduction in their pain levels as well as improvements in function and flexibility of their joints.
Another holistic treatment arthritis patients can try is acupuncture. Keep in mind, there’s limited data supporting the effectiveness of acupuncture treatment. Some patients may find it helps improve their condition while others may report minimal to no effect at all.
How to Locate an Orthopedic Doctor Near You
Suffering with joint pain is no way to live. It compromises how a person engages in daily activities and reduces overall quality of life. Those who are chronic sufferers of joint pain are encouraged to reach out to an orthopedic doctor. You can do this by searching the phrase “orthopedic doctor near me” or “joint pain specialist near me.” Either one of those searches should return numerous orthopedic doctors in your direct vicinity.
During the initial examination, your orthopedic doctor will gather your medical history, examine the area in question, and may even order some tests, such as X-rays or an MRI. Once your orthopedic doctor gets to the root cause of the issue, they will put you on a treatment plan that is specific to you, your condition, and your activity level.
If the severity of your condition is too advanced and requires surgical intervention, your doctor will refer you over to an orthopedic surgeon. Fortunately, modern joint surgery can be performed using minimally invasive methods, and it’s only used as a last resort when all other treatment methods have failed.