Oh, My Aching Joints!

Dec 12, 2023
 Oh, My Aching Joints!
Chronic, arthritis-related joint pain can impair your mobility, drain your energy, make you less active, and undermine your quality of life. If you’re ready to gain the upper hand over arthritis, our five-tiered treatment approach can help.

If you live with chronic joint pain, you know just how disruptive it can be. When one or more of your joints are perpetually stiff and achy, it can impair your mobility, drain your energy, make you less active, and undermine your quality of life.  

While there are many possible causes of joint pain, arthritis is the most common source of ongoing joint inflammation, stiffness, and discomfort. Of the 100-plus distinct conditions that are classified as arthritis, osteoarthritis (OA), also known as degenerative joint disease, is the most prevalent joint pain diagnosis.  

As a board-certified interventional pain management expert who specializes in helping people attain complete, lasting relief from OA symptoms and other persistent joint pain problems, Dr. Okezie N. Okezie and our team at Interventional Sports and Pain Management Associates know that effective arthritis management requires an attentive, multidisciplinary approach.

Here, we discuss how our five-tiered treatment approach for aching, arthritic joints aims to ease joint pain, improve joint function, and restore a better quality of life in the long term.  

1. First, get to know your joint condition 

Chronic, arthritis-related joint discomfort is most common in the hands, hips, knees, feet, and spine. No matter where your pain is located, it’s essential to learn everything you can about the specific condition that’s causing it. 

This means having your joint pain diagnosed, if you haven’t already, and finding out whether any of your joints have already been damaged by the underlying condition. After OA, common arthritis diagnoses include rheumatoid arthritis (RA), an inflammatory autoimmune condition, and gout, a painful form of arthritis related to too much uric acid in the body. 

 It also means getting to know your joint pain: Is it constant, or does it come and go? Are your joint pain sensations throbbing, burning, or grating? Do your joints feel stiff, achy, and sore in the morning, and loosen up with movement? Does too much activity make your pain worse? 

2. Immediate relief for a joint pain flare

During a joint pain flare triggered by too much activity, seasonal changes, or something else, you want fast relief. In most cases, this means turning to an over-the-counter pain reliever. 

Taking a medication such as acetaminophen (i.e., Tylenol®) or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen (i.e., Advil®) may help ease your discomfort; you can also combine pain relievers with a topical cream containing capsaicin when pain is especially bothersome.  

 Depending on the nature of your joint pain flare, you may also benefit from moist heat, cold therapy (icing), or a combination of the two. An initial period of rest is often helpful as pain eases, followed by gentle stretches and low-impact exercise to keep your joints fluid. You may also find that joint bracing can ease and reduce pain episodes.       

3. Dial down joint pain with these habits 

Between arthritis pain flare-ups, take time to establish joint-friendly habits that can help you dial down the severity of your symptoms when they occur. This means paying attention to your joints, whether you’re sitting, standing, or engaging in physical activity.

 First and foremost, keep your joints moving. We can show you gentle, daily stretching exercises that take your joints through their full range of motion, foster flexibility, and ease stiffness. Learn and practice good posture to minimize joint stress, and know your limits. Don’t overdo it, and find the right balance of activity and rest for your body. 

4. Pain relief procedures for lasting relief

If you’re struggling with severe or persistent joint discomfort that doesn’t respond well to pain relievers, stretching, and other front-line strategies, Dr. Okezie may recommend a pain relief procedure to help you attain effective, longer-lasting relief. You may benefit from: 

  • Steroid joint injections
  • Gel injections for knee OA
  • Nerve block injections
  • Facet joint nerve blocks
  • Epidural steroid injections
  • Radiofrequency rhizotomy 

One of the biggest benefits of these medical interventions is that they can deliver a longer period of effective pain relief, giving you time to foster improved joint health, range of motion, and strength through daily exercise along with physical therapy or occupational therapy.  

5. Strategies for long-term improvement

Successful long-term arthritis management also requires lifestyle modifications. If you’re overweight, dropping extra pounds is arguably the most important step you can take to ease joint stress and pain — especially if your load-bearing joints (i.e., lower back, hips, knees, ankles) are affected.   

Other lifestyle changes that promote long-term arthritis control include:

  • Adhering to a balanced, low-impact fitness plan that keeps you moving 
  • Switching to an anti-inflammatory diet that minimizes processed foods
  • Quitting smoking (cigarette chemicals stress joints and increase pain)

Ready to gain the upper hand over chronic joint pain? We’re here to help. Call your nearest Interventional Sports and Pain Management Associates office in Humble or Baytown, Texas today, or click online to schedule a visit with Dr. Okezie anytime.