Joints are the structures present between the bones that enable all types of movements. Any damage to the joint or the structure around it can lead to pain. It is a prevalent problem and the incidence increases with increasing age. Joint pain can affect any part of the human body. Knee pain is the most commonly found joint pain followed by shoulder and hip pain. Joint pain can range from mild to increasingly debilitating hence affecting the quality of life. Joint pain can be acute and generally goes away after a week or chronic when it lasts for longer duration.
Pain in the joint can be due to inflammation of joint or arthritis, due to injury affecting any of the ligaments, bursa and tendons surrounding the joint or ligaments, cartilage and bones present within the joint. Joint pain can also be due to infection. Very rarely cancer is found to be the cause of joint pain. Infection such as sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhea and Chlamydia can lead to joint pain. Apart from pain there can be other associated signs and symptoms such as redness, swelling, tenderness, warmth, limping, locking of the joint, loss of complete range of motion of the affected joint, stiffness and weakness of the joint.
Joint pain, acute or mild badly affects the quality of life. Therefore it is important to know the factors that predispose to this problem. These are
- Being Overweight ? Research shows that for every pound of weight, knees have 4 pounds of stress on them. This places extra strain on joints making them prone to early wear and tear. Besides, fats secrete inflammatory chemicals that lead to arthralgia and promote the development of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Using thumb for texting- Thumbs are responsible for 60% of the functioning of hands. Texting places pressure on thumb joints that irritate the tendons. Also bending neck forward such that the chin touches the chest places a lot of stress on neck too.
- High heels and ill fitting or worn out shoes- This places a lot of stress on joints, strains muscles, and can affect the alignment of the back thus increasing the chances of developing osteoarthritis, foot pain, joint pain and joint problems.
- Heavy backpacks- Carrying heavy backpacks can strain neck, back and shoulders leading to muscle pain and joint pain.
- Sleeping on stomach- This can compress nerves and spine leading to awkward spinal alignment.
- Avoiding stretching before workouts- Regular stretching strengthen muscles, tendons, lubricates joints and boost the ability to have normal range of motion.
- Smoking and tobacco- Tobacco decreases calcium absorption leading to weak bones. Also nicotine in tobacco reduces blood flow to bones and discs in spine. Tobacco use interferes with estrogen in the body which is essential in females to maintain healthy bones.
- Insufficient sleep- Not only joint pain disturbs sleep but also sleep disorders make joint pain worse. It is found that sleep disorders trigger inflammation which makes joint pains and certain inflammatory ailments like autoimmune disease, ankylosing spondylitis , psoriatic arthritis, gout, etc worse.
- Poor posture- Poor posture like sitting or standing stooped causes spine to get out of alignment; this puts extra stress on joints and muscles and leads to pain.
- Sitting at the computer for long duration- This stresses the muscles and the discs leading to pain in neck, wrists, elbows, shoulders and back.
Keeping in mind the above common causes it is important to make some lifestyle changes to avoid joint pain such as quitting tobacco use, avoiding high heels and heavy backpacks, maintaining healthy weight of the body and adopting straight sitting and standing posture.
Joint pain mild or severe should never be ignored or it can result in permanent joint damage and disability. Joint pain can also be a sign of something potentially more serious. Therefore timely medical intervention is essential. Homeopathy provides the best treatment for arthralgia and arthritis. As joint pain can be a sign of some deeper underlying pathology like gout, psoriasis, cancer, etc homeopathic physician explores the patent on both mental and physical sphere for the best treatment for joint pain. At times investigations like blood tests, X-Ray, CT scan or MRI are advised by the physician for right diagnosis.
Prescription is based on the characteristic features in every individual case of disease such as cause of pain e.g. post fever arthralgia Eupatorium perfoliatum, fractures Symphytum, Calcarea phosphorica, injuries Arnica Montana, type of pain, modality of pain e.g joint pain better by cold Ledum pal, burning joint pain better by warm Arsenicum album, pain better by motion Rhus toxicodendron, better by rest Bryonia alba, joint involved e.g wrists Ruta, ankle Ledum pal, small joints of fingers Caulophyllum and concomitants e.g. joint pain with genitourinary problems Medorrhinum, Thuja occidentalis, joint pain with depression and suicidal impulses Aurum metallicum are elicited in detail for individualization and medicine selection. Medicine thus prescribed helps to relieve the patient from acute symptoms such as pain and swelling and also prevents further deterioration of the affected joints by treating the underlying cause. It is often seen that the damage once caused remains irreversible; therefore, physiotherapy also has a crucial role to play in treating such musculoskeletal problems along with the best homeopathic treatment.