Thursday, May 4, 2017

What to do when joint pain becomes chronic

There are many different causes of joint pain - everything from arthritis to injury to disease such as gout. It's no wonder that joint pain is often a complaint for adults of any age. Common painful joints tend to be large ones like the knee, hip or shoulder but joint pain can affect any of the joints in your body. And as you get older, painful joints become more common. When joint pain lasts for several weeks or months it is classified as chronic joint pain and can interfere with your quality of life. There are treatments and therapies to manage joint pain and get you back to your normal lifestyle.

Man experiencing joint pain in his shoulder

Short-term solutions for joint pain

If you are experiencing chronic joint pain, make an appointment with your doctor to investigate the possible causes. Your doctor's first treatment is likely to be focused on reducing inflammation and relieving pain. There are a number of options for this, from over-the-counter medications and topical creams to steroid injections. If you don't find enough relief with those treatments, your doctor is likely to recommend physical therapy.

Physical therapy for joint pain

Physical therapy focuses on your body's movement. Goals of physical therapy to treat joint pain include improving mobility, increasing strength to support the joints and maintaining fitness for your desired lifestyle. What can you expect from your physical therapy visit?
  • A personalized plan of exercises to improve flexibility, strength, coordination and overall function
  • Lessons on proper body mechanics to prevent further injury
  • Instructions on using assistive devices such as walkers or canes, if needed
  • Use of therapy treatments such as ultrasound, hot/cold compresses or electronic stimulation
  • A plan to teach you how to continue your therapy at home

Possible causes of joint pain

There are so many potential causes of joint pain. Injury or disease affecting the ligaments, tendons, cartilage and bones near or within the joint can lead to a painful joint. Joint pain is also a frequent result of arthritis - of which there are many different kinds. With so many potential causes, it's not surprising that the most common treatments as noted above don't relieve pain for everyone. For some people, medication and physical therapy provide relief in the short term but the pain comes back over time. If this describes what has happened to you, you may want to consider functional medicine.

A functional medicine solution

Traditional medicine is geared towards treating acute pain. Functional medicine takes a bigger look at pain and addresses its underlying causes. It's a more patient-centered approach that treats the whole person, not just a set of symptoms. Our pain management physician, Dr. Pedro Perez, is board-certified in anesthesiology and in pain management, taking a different approach to helping patients manage their pain. His goal is to address the source of the pain and develop a personal plan you can use to feel better. Learn more.

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