When your hip or knee joints hurt, even the simplest daily activities are difficult. Over time, this can lead to missed work, lower activity levels and social isolation. Fortunately, there are things you can do to reduce pain and stay active.
The number one cause of joint pain is osteoarthritis, a condition that affects about 27 million Americans and occurs when cartilage wears away, allowing bones to rub against each other. Although there is no cure for osteoarthritis, treatments are available to help manage your pain. Here are a few options:
- Weight Control – Every pound of excess weight exerts about four pounds of extra pressure on your knees. So even losing just 10 pounds can help relieve joint pain. Initially, you should look at modifying your diet. After shedding a few pounds, you will likely be able to add exercise to lose weight
- Medication – Taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAID), such as Ibuprofen, is usually the first step. Your doctor may give you a prescription NSAID if you need something stronger.
- Injections – Steroid and cortisol injections can effectively control pain for up to a few months at a time. Injections don’t cure the arthritis – but they can help mask and manage symptoms.
- Physical Therapy – A physical therapist can help you learn exercises to strengthen your core, hips and quadriceps. Strengthening these areas can help reduce the amount of pressure on your joints and help you feel stronger and fitter.
- Ice/Heat – Use ice to help calm inflammation. You can ice for 15-20 minutes at a time, a few times a day. Heat is best applied first thing in the morning when your joints are stiff.
- Braces or Wraps – A knee brace or wrap can be used to provide extra support for your joints.
If your pain persists, you may be a candidate for joint replacement surgery. To learn more, talk to your doctor.
Edward-Elmhurst Health is among the top 12 hospitals in Illinois for overall orthopedic care, according to IHA COMPdata. Our total joint program uses a multidisciplinary approach, including surgeons, physicians, nurses and therapists working together to improve outcomes and the patient experience.