Joint pain is a very common problem, especially in weight-bearing joints like the hips and knees. These joints take a great deal of punishment every day, absorbing the shock of your footfalls as you walk, run or jump, and carrying much of the weight when you lift, lug and carry. Given the stress they are placed under throughout the typical day, it's no surprise that knee and hip injury are common issues, as are chronic joint problems like knee or hip arthritis. Alternatives to alleviate joint pain range from medication and exercise to complementary medical practices and, in severe cases, joint replacement surgery.
Medications and Supplements
Anti-inflammatory medications often provide effective relief for joint pain and swelling. Over-the-counter options include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDS, like naproxen, ibuprofen and aspirin. These drugs are also available in prescription strength from your doctor. Topical pain-relief ointments can be very helpful as well; alleviating stiffness and pain, and joint supplements may also be of benefit, such as glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM and fish oil. Especially, the use of pain-relief ointments that contain Arnica components, which has been used for centuries to treat injuries, has been very helpful in relieving aches and pains. When those options fail, corticosteroids are often the next step and can be given by injection into the affected joint or taken by mouth.
Physical Therapy and Exercise
Physical therapy can improve chronic joint pain by addressing underlying issues that contribute to the problem, such as weakness or imbalance in the muscles that support joint function. In knee or hip injury, therapy can help maintain proper joint function and range of motion throughout the healing process, reducing stiffness and pain. Simple exercise done on your own can also improve chronic joint pain, such as walking, swimming or aerobics.
Chiropractic care also focuses on treating the underlying causes of joint pain, but uses a more holistic approach. Chiropractic physicians typically use a combination of therapies to alleviate joint pain and treat knee or hip injury that can include spinal and joint manipulation, exercise, nutritional therapy and joint supplements, massage and heat or cold therapy.
When more conservative treatments fail to alleviate joint pain and the problem is a debilitating one, joint replacement surgery can be an option. However, it is not an option to be taken lightly. Replacement surgery is a complex and invasive procedure, and recovery can be a long and challenging process, taking as long as a year in some cases, and as with any surgery, there are risks that must be considered.
Additionally, there have been some serious issues with hip replacement that are very important for anyone considering this surgery to be aware of, centering around poorly designed or faulty hip implants. Several hip replacement systems have been recalled by manufacturers after reports of high failure rates and serious complications.
Many of the problems were related to metallic implant debris, shed from metal implant components. In some patients, particles of metallic debris collected in the soft tissues around the implant caused metallosis, a condition characterized by severe pain and inflammation in the hip, which can lead to tissue death, bone loss implant loosening or implant failure. Many patients had to undergo further surgical procedures to correct these problems, and hundreds of injured patients filed hip replacement lawsuits.
Elizabeth Carrollton writes about defective medical devices and dangerous drugs for Drugwatch.com.