What Are the Different Types of Joint Pain Management?

Meshell Powell
Meshell Powell
The elbow joint.
The elbow joint.

Joint pain management is dependent upon individual symptoms as well as the underlying medical condition. Some of the most popular treatment options include over-the-counter or prescription pain relievers and topical creams or ointments. Steroid injections, exercise, and surgical intervention are also among the possible joint pain management methods. Alternative treatment options include acupuncture or chiropractic care. Any specific questions or concerns about joint pain management in a particular situation should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

A man with joint pain.
A man with joint pain.

In mild cases, joint pain management often includes the use of over-the-counter pain relievers or topical preparations. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents, or NSAIDs, are typically recommended due to their ability to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen sodium are examples of frequently used NSAIDs. Topical creams or ointments made with capsicum, menthol, or camphor may be applied to the affected joint for immediate pain relief.

Creams with capsaicin, a chemical that gives red peppers their heat, can be used to relieve joint pain.
Creams with capsaicin, a chemical that gives red peppers their heat, can be used to relieve joint pain.

Prescription medications may be needed for joint pain management in more severe cases. Pain medications, muscle relaxants, and anticonvulsants may be used alone or in combination with one another to provide adequate pain relief and improve joint mobility. Over-the-counter and prescription medications should be used only at the same time under the direct supervision of a doctor.

Physical therapy may help relieve joint pain.
Physical therapy may help relieve joint pain.

A mild to moderate exercise program can be a beneficial part of joint pain management as long as the supervising physician declares the patient to be healthy enough for exercise. If other methods have not been successful, steroid medications may be injected directly into the affected joint. These injections provide only temporary relief and may need to be repeated periodically.

Surgical intervention is usually a last resort method of joint pain management. Significant joint damage due to a traumatic injury or natural disease process may need to be surgically repaired. Some degree of immobility may still be present following the procedure, although the majority of patients report favorable results.

Alternative treatments such as chiropractic care, acupuncture, or herbal supplements are sometimes used as part of a joint pain management program. Chiropractic care is usually considered safe, although severe complications such as paralysis are possible. Infections are a potential side effect of acupuncture, especially if the practitioner is not properly accredited. Herbal remedies should be discussed with a doctor, as some of these supplements may not work well with other medications or may be unsafe for patients with certain underlying medical conditions.

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    • The elbow joint.
      The elbow joint.
    • A man with joint pain.
      A man with joint pain.
    • Creams with capsaicin, a chemical that gives red peppers their heat, can be used to relieve joint pain.
      Creams with capsaicin, a chemical that gives red peppers their heat, can be used to relieve joint pain.
    • Physical therapy may help relieve joint pain.
      Physical therapy may help relieve joint pain.