Why Your Joints Give You Discomfort or Pain, and What You Can Do About It
Have you had a painful sprain and been sleeping in the wrong position? Riding a bike, and now your knees ache? Most people write off joint discomfort for simple reasons and do not consider this a cause for concern. When discomfort begins to interfere with your daily activities more frequently, affecting the quality of life, it may turn out that the situation is already severely neglected. It is important to remember that prevention can significantly help correct the problem.
What triggers the pain?
Joint pain occurs due to irritation of the nerve endings starting from the synovial joint capsule. Toxins, autoimmune processes in the body, and inflammatory processes in the joints may act as direct irritants. The inflammatory processes, even if they start not directly in the joint but, for example, in the adjacent muscle, may act as an indirect irritant, which causes its spasm and affects the functioning of the joint. Sometimes joint pain accompanies acute viral diseases – everyone knows “bone aches” when one has the flu.
Age-related changes, dystrophic changes, congenital pathologies, which result in improper formation of joints, as well as genetics, overweight, excessive sports regimen, or vice versa, a sedentary lifestyle, and an unhealthy diet also belong to the contributing factors. Our body is a perfect machine designed to move, so it is not wise to confine it between your sofa, car, and desk.
Types of joint pain
- Night or chronic pains. Discomfort may intensify at night when the body is resting. It is attributed to the fact that fluid stagnates in the joint while your body is in a long period of immobility, and its blood supply slows down. However, nocturnal pain can be caused by arthritis and other rheumatic conditions, such as ankylosing spondylitis. If the pain bothers you more often than once a month, you need to see a doctor.
- Mechanical pain. The physical load causes this sort of nasty discomfort during the day or pressure on the joint. Such pain usually worsens in the evening; after a night’s rest, it disappears. It can also be a sign of degenerative processes in the joint. If you notice that your joints ache after the gym or a condition known as lumbago is bothering you, do not put the doctor’s consultation on the “back” burner).
- Start pain. You wouldn’t believe how many people experience this type of condition every single day. So many of us are actually glued to the computer screens rolling in our chairs across the home office instead of getting up and walking. We often overlook that little prick or stiffness as we stand up. It occurred at the beginning of any movement when the joint was at rest until that time (binge-watching Netflix for five hours straight?). When the joints warm up, the pain subsides or disappears completely. Usually, such pain signals a sedentary lifestyle, and you can get rid of it if you start exercising regularly.
- Referred pain, also called reflective pain, is pain perceived at a location other than the site of the painful stimulus. It occurs with diseases of internal organs or after childbirth in women. If you feel something like it, please, schedule an appointment with a relevant specialist as soon as possible.
- Inflammatory type of pain is associated with the body’s response to an infection, allergic or autoimmune process. It is usually accompanied by swelling of the joint, redness of the skin around it, and a general increase in temperature. If the problem persists after recovering from the flu or severe cold, it is necessary to visit a doctor to detect the cause of the inflammation and treat it.
A little geography
In the United States alone, up to $ 8.4 billion is spent annually for the treatment of joint diseases, which is one in five dollars of all direct medical expenses. The indirect damage due to the loss of disability of the population reaches almost $11 billion a year.
In the European Union, musculoskeletal system-related diseases also require one of the most significant expenditures in the healthcare sector. In the UK, the estimated cost of general practitioner consultations for musculoskeletal disorders is estimated to be £1.34 million per year, second only to cardiovascular disease.
In Germany, the cost of treating diseases of the musculoskeletal system has exceeded €28.5 billion per year, representing more than 11% of total healthcare costs. Let’s compare a few more figures: Turkey spends €9,431 per year on medicines for one rheumatoid arthritis patient, whereas Germany spends €21,349. It’s worth noting that these numbers do not reflect the further damage to the economy caused by lower labor productivity and early retirement due to pain in joints.
Scandinavian scientists found out that the morning joint stiffness that causes difficulty moving around in more than 70% of people leads to them seeking part-time employment since they tend to arrive too late at the office and are often penalized by the management.
Here is an interesting fact. The Mediterranean region reports a significantly smaller share of joint-related diseases compared to most European countries. The further north the country is located, the more people complain about their joints. There is no scientifically proven explanation for this. Yet, most doctors are inclined to believe that long dark winters and rainy weather lead to a more acute deficiency of vitamin D, which is necessary for the body to absorb calcium and phosphorus vital for joint health.
Believe it or not, the top leaders in joint health have become North Africa and Southeast Asia, regardless of the level of development or accessibility of medicine in these regions. Complaints of pain in the hip joints are three times less common than in Europe, and knee pain troubles are half as often! So far, there is no sufficient evidence that would explain this phenomenon. Some scientists believe that credit should be given to greater physical activity, both forced (in developing countries, people have to hustle a lot) and conscious (in Asia, the idea of an active lifestyle, outdoor gymnastics, and various stretching practices is actively promoted). Others think it’s all about what they eat here: the abundance of healthy fats in the diet, a minimum of carbohydrates, and the predominance of fish as a source of protein over meat. However, further research continues.
Remember, prevention is always better than cure. Protect your body by following these simple preventive measures:
• Make sure you move a lot. Avoid heavy gym weights (remember your knees and your fragile back) and sudden movements that can lead to injury or sprains. Don’t overdo it in the gym; try swimming, yoga, stretching, walking, or skiing.
• Avoid exposure to low temperatures. When you stay outdoors in the cold for a long time, your muscles get tensed, which puts an extra load on the joints. All you need to enjoy long walks in the snow is quality thermal underwear, high-quality membrane waterproof outerwear, and comfortable shoes with orthopedic shoe insoles!
• Use an orthopedic mattress. It helps your body maintain a physiologically correct position during sleep, which will also help reduce the risk of joint disease.
• Monitor your diet. Cut down on spicy, fatty, fried, and canned foods. Don’t go hard on carbohydrates, either. Include foods that are good for your joints. Among them are turmeric, ginger, foods rich in vitamin D, and sulfur. You can read the relevant research, “Dietary garlic and hip osteoarthritis: evidence of a protective effect and putative mechanism of action,” that indicates that sulfur-containing foods, such as garlic, have a beneficial effect on joints and serve as the prevention of discomfort.
Furthermore, it is a great idea to include more foods with vitamin C in your diet, for it contributes to the normal formation of collagen necessary for joints.
Of course, in our hectic modern life, it is nearly impossible to control your diet and ensure you get all the ingredients you need daily. So, you see, nutritional supplements were created for a reason. Let’s compare the following facts. Curcumin (the main component of turmeric), when consumed in its natural form, is absorbed by the human body by 3%. At the same time, supplements contain curcumin in a concentrated form and are easily absorbed. Ginger has a specific flavor, and someone may find it hard to eat it daily. As an extract, however, it is easier and more comfortable to use.
In short, if you have doubts about whether you have a balanced diet and a sufficient amount of all the vitamins and microelements, perhaps you should pay attention to the supplements that contain all the essential ingredients explicitly formulated to enhance each other’s action. It is called a synergistic effect.
Your joints need your attention and help, even though there is no universally effective method. The combination of an active lifestyle, sport, healthy diet, and attention to the signs your body sends you, is the effective tool kit that will make a difference. Remember that it is always simpler and cheaper to prevent the disease than deal with it when it has already damaged your body, and you just have to live with it.
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