It is estimated that nearly 1 out of 4 adults in the United States suffer from some form of joint pain or stiffness.1 As we age, stiff joints can become a common problem for many people. Although there are multiple causes, there are a few remedies that can ease your discomfort. It is important to note that you should see a doctor to determine the cause of your joint stiffness, although it can be as simple as aging. As part of the aging process, our cartilage begins to dry out. The natural lubrication that our body diminishes over time, thus, causing discomfort. Stiff joints can affect any joint in your body, including the hands, feet, knees, hips, and spine. Here are four ways to help alleviate your aches and pains.
Hot and cold therapy can both be beneficial treatments, but it can take some trial and error to see what works best for you. Heat does an excellent job to relax sore, stiff muscles. It also promotes blood flow and improves circulation. You can choose to use dry heat, such as heating pads or heat lamps, or moist heat, such as warm baths, hot water bottles, or a microwaved moist towel.
Contrary to hot compresses, cold compresses work by reducing blood flow to the area. This reduces swelling and inflammation, which are large contributors to painful, achy joints. You can simply use a bag of ice, ice packs, frozen towels, or even a frozen bag of vegetables. Apply ice for 15-20 minutes several times per day.2
NSAIDs or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are often used to treat inflammation and pain. Aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen are among some of the most commonly used. These work by inhibiting the body from making prostaglandins, which contribute to inflammation. NSAIDs are typically taken on an as-needed basis and don’t generally have major side effects, but always check with your doctor if you have any concerns.
When you feel achy and sore the last thing you probably want to do is exercise, however, one of the best choices you can make is to move! You must perform exercises that are right for you. Each form of exercise can have a positive impact on your overall health. Strengthening exercises create stronger muscles that provide support to your joints. Stretching can help the flexibility of your joints and is also a great way to warm up cold muscles. Aerobic exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight and most importantly, strengthen your heart. Physical therapy is a great option to help relieve your achy joints as well. Physical therapists are specifically trained to help the body engage in safe, effective, and healthy movement. Your physical therapist can come up with an individualized exercise plan to meet your specific needs.
Never underestimate the power that foods can have on your health. When it comes to stiff joints, certain foods can cause inflammation or reduce inflammation. Some of the best foods to aid in joint health are foods that are high in omega-3s, high in antioxidants, and high-fiber foods.
- Fish oil from fatty fish (salmon)
- Seeds such as flaxseeds, chia seeds, and hemp seeds
- Seaweed and algae
- Dark leafy greens
- Dark cherries
- Dried spices
- Teas and coffees
High Fiber foods
- Whole grains
In addition to foods, there are a few supplements that have proven to be helpful in pain management and discomfort:
- Vitamin D
- Fish oils
If you are struggling with discomfort from stiff joints regardless of the cause, these four tips can bring you relief from your symptoms. It is important to know the cause of your pain, so speak with your doctor to determine the best plan of action for you.
At North Central Surgical Center, our mission is to treat each and every one of our patients and their families as if they were our own family members. Each patient, each family, each and every time.
- 1 https://www.webmd.com/arthritis/news/20211018/us-adults-affected-joint-pain-stiffness-cdc-repor
- 2 https://www.healthline.com/health/make-cold-compress