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When your joints hurt, it can cut you off from the activities you love and keep you from doing things you need to do. It can also make it harder for you to get through a typical day by reducing your ability to lift, reach, stand, or sit comfortably. Joint pain can be annoying and uncomfortable, even if it’s not bad enough to require medical attention. You may experience joint pain anywhere in your body, but the most common are the knees, hips, hands, and back.
1. Stay Active.
If you sit all day, your joints are not getting the blood flow they need to stay healthy. Squatting to pick up things, walking up and down stairs, and reaching overhead are great ways to get your joints moving, improve circulation, and reduce aches and pains. Standing desks or sitting on a balance ball to help encourage movement are great options for those who work in an office. Strengthening and stabilizing muscles around your joints will also help reduce pain and improve your joint health.
2. Try a Heating Pad or Hot Shower.
Heat can help increase blood flow and relax muscles around your joints, making them more pliable. If you have knee or hip pain, for example, applying heat for 10–15 minutes before you do some gentle exercises can help ease the pain so you can target and move the muscles more efficiently. Applying heat can help relax the muscles and make gentle movements less painful if you have hand or wrist pain. And if your back is causing you pain, applying heat before doing a back strengthening and stretching routine can help ease the pain so you can target the muscles more effectively. Applying heat to your back can also help break up and relax tight muscles.
3. Get a Massage.
Massage is a great way to relieve joint pain but can also help reduce muscle tension. If you have knee or hip pain, for example, a massage can help break up and relax the tight muscles around those joints, so they move more fluidly and comfortably. For hand pain, a massage can help relax the muscles in your forearms and the surrounding tendons, helping reduce any pain you might feel in your palms or fingers. If you have back pain, a massage can help break up any tight muscles in the area and also help reduce any inflammation. You can also try self-massage by getting a tennis ball or a lacrosse ball and using it to massage the areas that are causing you pain.
4. Talk to Your Doctor About Pain Relief Options.
While ice, heat, and massage can help mild to moderate joint pain, you may need something a bit stronger. If you’re experiencing joint pain that is not improving with these techniques, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor to see if they can recommend anything to help get the pain under control and give your joints a break. Many medications for joint pain, like pain relief spray, are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These are different from opioids, often prescribed for severe joint pain. NSAIDs are great options for minor aches because they don’t have the same addiction or side effects as opioids.
5. Stretch and Strengthen Critical Muscles.
Sitting all day, you may notice that your hamstrings are tight. If your hamstrings are tight, they pull on your hips and knees, increasing joint pain. Practicing a gentle hamstring stretch at least once a day can help keep those muscles loose and ease joint pain in your hips and knees. Other muscles that can help reduce joint pain are your core and upper back muscles. Your core helps stabilize your spine, making it less likely to be injured. Strong upper back muscles can help ease tension in your upper back, which can cause pain in your lower back.
Joint pain can be debilitating, and it can also be challenging to treat. When your joints hurt, it can be hard to focus on anything else. A typical person will experience joint pain at some point in their life. Luckily, most joint pains are not severe and can be treated at home with over-the-counter pain relievers and rest. If you’re experiencing joint pain, try these five tips for fast relief.