Did you know that joint pain is the second most common problem that people experience, after headaches? In fact, an estimated 50 million Americans suffer from chronic joint pain.
The most commonly affected joints are the knees, hips, and hands. Read on to learn more about joint pain, and how you can prevent, reduce, or even eliminate it from your life.
What’s in a joint?
A joint is where two or more bones come together. There are three types of joints:
- Immovable (or “fixed”) joints: These joints do not move at all and are found in the skull.
- Partially movable (or “synovial”) joints: These joints allow for a small amount of movement and are found in the spine.
- Movable (or “ball-and-socket”) joints: These joints allow for a wide range of motion and are found in the shoulder and hip.
The ends of the bones where they come together at a joint are covered with a smooth, rubbery material called cartilage. This cartilage allows the bones to move easily over one another. There is also a small space between the bones that are filled with a thick, slippery fluid called synovial fluid. This fluid lubricates the joint and helps to reduce friction.
What causes joint pain?
The most common cause of joint pain is arthritis. Arthritis is a result of the wear and tear on the joints over time. It comes in two forms: Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis and is caused by the breakdown of cartilage in the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis  is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation of the joints.
Another common cause of joint pain comes from temporary or prolonged overuse of a certain joint. This occurs frequently in athletes or people who participate in repetitive activities, such as typing. Overuse can damage the cartilage in the joints and lead to pain.
An injury, such as a sprain or fracture, can damage the cartilage in the joints and cause pain. Sometimes these pains fade with time, but in other instances, they might reappear after years.
Maintaining a healthy weight plays a huge role in minimizing joint pain as we age . Excess weight puts added stress on the joints, which can lead to pain and even joint damage. Aiming for a healthy BMI  and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help to reduce joint pain and prevent future joint problems.
As we age, a certain amount of joint pain is almost inevitable. Luckily, medicine has come a long way in recent years and there are now many effective treatments for joint pain.
- NSAIDs: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and aspirin, can help to reduce inflammation and pain in the joints.
- Ice/heat therapy: Applying ice or heat to the affected joint can help to reduce pain and swelling.
- Natural medicines: Alternative treatments such as THC  (an active compound found in cannabis), ginger, and capsaicin (found in chili peppers) have all been found to reduce certain types of bodily pain.
Prevention comes first
Of course, the best way to deal with joint pain is to prevent it from happening in the first place. As we age, there are a few things we can do to keep our joints healthy and reduce the likelihood of developing joint pain.
Exercise is important for maintaining strong bones and muscles, as well as keeping our joints healthy. A moderate amount of exercise is the key – too much exercise can actually do more harm than good.
Eating a healthy diet is also crucial for keeping our joints healthy. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats can help to reduce inflammation and pain in the joints. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish and nuts, are especially beneficial for joint health.
Keeping a good posture also makes a big difference! Maintaining good posture helps to reduce the amount of stress placed on our joints. Try to avoid hunching your back, craning your neck, or slouching when you sit.
What is the prognosis for someone with joint pain?
The prognosis for someone with joint pain depends on the underlying cause of the pain. However, most cases of joint pain can be effectively treated to improve quality of life. Begin by seeking out an effective pain reliever, and then start thinking about any more holistic changes that can be made to improve your overall joint health.
Be the bee’s knees
Joint pain can be caused by many different things, but the most common is arthritis. There are many ways to relieve joint pain, and most cases can be treated effectively to improve quality of life. Prevention is key, so try to maintain a healthy weight, eat a healthy diet, and exercise regularly.