Before you can relieve joint pain, you must first find out what is causing the pain in the first place. Different pains will require different treatment. Sprains and strains, for example, will be treated differently than arthritis pain, and knowing the cause of the pain can help you determine the best course of action to relieve joint pain. In some cases, simply strengthening the joint through exercise and stretching can alleviate the pain, and in other cases, anti-inflammatory medication or painkillers may be necessary to relieve joint pain.
Injuries to a joint, either through direct trauma or through straining of the muscles and spraining of the ligaments, are the most common causes of joint pain. A direct trauma may result in a bone fracture, a torn muscle or ligament, or a strain or sprain. Such injuries usually need to be diagnosed by a doctor; in the case of bone fractures, adequate rest and immobilization of the joint may be enough to relieve joint pain. In more severe cases, however, surgery may be necessary to repair the damage. Strained muscles and sprained ligaments also often need significant rest time to heal, and ice and compression can keep swelling down, thereby dulling the pain. If a muscle ruptures — or becomes completely separated — surgery may be necessary to repair the damage.
Arthritis is a common joint ailment in middle-aged and elderly people. Arthritis occurs when the ligaments that connect bones in a joint begin to degrade, allowing the joint to move unnaturally. The bones can begin to grind against each other, causing painful bone spurs that can in turn press against nerves surrounding the joint. To relieve joint pain in this instance, medication and exercise are usually prescribed. Arthritis is a degenerative condition, however, and many people will never achieve full recovery from it. Pain management becomes the solution, and medications are often prescribed to help achieve this.
Some joint pain is the result of overuse. Athletes may experience aches and pains in the joints after particularly intense physical activity. The ligaments and muscles of the joints may become overtaxed, and when muscles tire, they tend to tense up. This can cause an unpleasant aching sensation, or even a sensation of burning or tenderness. Adequate rest is usually enough to relieve joint pain in this situation, though in some cases, a person may choose to take an over-the-counter pain reliever to help dull the pain.