Hips, elbows, knees, ankles — there are few things worse than dealing with joint pain. Whether it’s from a recent incident or it’s a chronic issue, it can really take away from your day-to-day life. It can make everything from walking to sleeping difficult, and you may feel as if there’s no relief in sight. However, there are some things you can do at home to help relieve your joint pain.
1. RICE Protocol
If your joint pain is from an injury or overuse — and it’s not too serious — you may find some relief in following the RICE protocol. RICE is an acronym that stands for “rest, ice, compression and elevation.” (Some medical professionals may call it “PRICE” in which the P stands for “protect.”) If you follow PRICE, you’ll start by wrapping the joint in a brace or bandage to protect it. Otherwise, you’ll rest the joint for a few days, avoiding strenuous activity or activity that aggravates it. You’ll also want to apply an ice pack to the joint for at least 15 minutes at a time, a few times a day. Next is compression, and you can use a brace or bandage wrap to do that. Finally, you’ll want to keep the joint elevated above the heart as much as possible until it feels better.
You may not always feel like exercising when you’re experiencing joint pain, but if it’s caused by long-term problems like osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, exercise can actually be beneficial. Not only does it help build muscle to make your body stronger, but it can help improve all of your physical functions, which can lead to less pain. It can also help with your mental health so that you have a better attitude when tackling your joint pain. If you’re starting a new exercise program, talk to your doctor first. It’s also important to stick to low-impact exercises that won’t aggravate the joints and do more harm than good. They include walking, swimming, cycling, strength training, yoga and Pilates.
When it comes to herbal supplements, many people are on the fence. Some claim they help them with joint pain, while others claim it doesn’t make a difference. Studies have shown some natural remedies may help ease joint pain and even heal injuries, but science isn’t completely settled on the truth. Either way, if you like to stay natural and you want to try supplements, give some of the following a try:
Turmeric, which reduces inflammation and has been used for hundreds of years in Eastern medicine practices Comfrey, which can repair tissue and has found to be effective with ankle sprains Collagen, which can replace the natural collagen found in your body and potentially reduce pain
4. Adopt a Healthier Lifestyle
Living a healthier lifestyle can impact almost every aspect of your body, so it only makes sense it would help your joints too. First of all, if you’re overweight or obese, it’s almost certain you will suffer from some joint pain and inflammation. The sooner you lose weight, the sooner you’ll feel some relief. Even just losing a small percentage of your body weight can help take pressure off your knees, hips and ankles. It’s also important to stop smoking if you do. Studies have shown smokers have more damage to the cartilage and tissue in their joints, because the toxins from cigarettes can damage it quicker than natural aging. Smoking can also prevent cartilage cells from regenerating.
When the joint paint is really bad, and you can’t take time to follow the RICE protocol or you need a short-term fix before you can start a new swimming or walking program, you may want to turn to over-the-the counter medications. NSAIDs like aspirin, Advil, Motrin, Aleve and ibuprofen can help eliminate inflammation that causes joint pain. Tylenol may also help. You can also try topical products, like capsaicin cream or products that contain methyl salicylate, like Icy Hot. Just be careful when using over-the-counter medications. NSAIDs if used for a long period of time can cause gastrointestinal bleeding, high blood pressure, stroke and heart attack. Tylenol can cause liver damage over time. If your joint pain is severe enough that you feel like you need to take these medications for more than a few days, it’s time to see a doctor.