Sunday, February 14, 2010

Joint Pain Treatments - Non Medications

For non-structural damage type pain there are a few things you should try before resorting to medications.

Rest the joint. Take a break from the activities that render the pain. If you are a runner that means take a break from running for a number of days to a number of weeks. Almost impossible if you are an addict to the activity that births the pain. If you continue to work the joint you risk that pain becoming chronic or the injury becoming more severe.

Ice the joint. Pain is usually caused by inflammation which can be controlled somewhat by ice which will reduce the inflammation, but this is treating the symptoms and not the cause of the pain. However, many people live for years and decades bearing the joint pain by managing it with bouts of rest and ice. Elevating the joint such as placing your knees on pillows as you sit or lay down helps reduce blood flow to that joint acts as an anti-inflammatory measures.

Compression wraps. These can be simply Ace bandages to elastic pull wraps, to Velcro wraps, to special braces made specifically for that joint. The compression is designed to do two things – provide some protection and further injury by stabilizing that joint, and, due to the compression, minimizes fluid buildup and inflammation which is source of the pain.

I have had decent results using a compression device just below my elbow to help alleviate what has been diagnosed as frayed tendons endings from years of Ju-Jitsu and Judo practice. Compression straps below my knees and above my calf muscle have helped with pain diagnosed as deteriorating cartilage in the knees for the same activities and for running. These devices allow me as much pain free use as I can expect.

I have also tried, or actually used for decades, topical pain crèmes to some degree of satisfaction. The best Over-the-Counter product that I have used is called “Tiger Balm”. However the results are extremely short lived. I think the value is in using these crèmes after an icing session,….sounds strange but use/abuse of the joint, then icing, then pain (heat) crème provides a degree of relief, especially followed by several days of rest. But, as you see in subsequent posts, this is not the only nor the more important things you can do.


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