How to Reduce Joint and Muscle Pain
There are numerous reasons that you may experience joint and muscle pain, such as a chronic condition, overdoing a workout, or sleeping in an odd position. Reducing the pain should always include getting to the source of the problem, but as you work to assess the cause and overcome it, you can also take advantage of home remedies.
From changes to your routine to supplements and home care, there are plenty of tricks that can help reduce the pain in your muscles or joints.
Stretching and Light Exercise
Although it can be incredibly tempting to just lay or sit down when you have joint or muscle pain, this is actually not in your best interests. Instead, make it a point to engage in some type of light exercise or stretching at the very least. Your joints must move to receive nutrition.
The key is to never push to the point of pain. Gentle stretching is fine, but do not push yourself too hard.
It is best to start with light exercises and stretching that do not push you past your limits or cause pain. Most people with joint or muscle pain will prefer low-impact exercises, such as swimming or other water activities, cycling, walking, and tai chi.
A bonus of exercising to relieve the pain is that it will help you maintain your weight at a healthy level. This is important because you may have a higher risk of conditions that cause stiffness and joint pain if you carry extra weight.
Physical therapists can be an excellent resource in this instance. They will show you the proper way to exercise, using stretches and movements that are safe for your pain and any other conditions you have. After an initial session, you can continue the movements at home.
For many people, resting a sore muscle or joint will also provide relief. However, you need to balance the rest carefully with exercise. Rest involves avoiding lifting anything heavy, completing any rigorous exercise, or otherwise using the injured part of your body too much.
Anyone who has experienced muscle pain knows that massages can be an excellent way to provide relief. It may also have similar benefits for joints, although there is not enough evidence yet for any official recommendations regarding massages for joint pain.
One good thing about massages is that they are unlikely to cause any problems or pose risks. They can also help in other ways, such as stress reduction.
Depending on the type of muscle or joint pain you are experiencing, foam rolling may be an effective method of giving yourself a massage. This method can help with muscle soreness, flexibility, and fatigue.
Managing Your Weight
As mentioned, maintaining a healthy weight can have a positive impact on reducing your joint and muscle pain. For those who are overweight, losing weight can improve mobility, decrease pain, and reduce the risk of future joint damage.
This is particularly important among those whose joint or muscle pain is due to arthritis. In this case, the additional weight will lead to increased pressure on joints in the feet, hips, and knees.
Eating a healthy diet that includes whole foods and fresh fruits and vegetables can
improve your overall health and boost the immune system.
If you opt for a plant-based diet, you will consume plenty of antioxidants, which
eliminate free radicals, helping keep your body free from inflammation. By contrast, eating processed foods, added salt and sugar, saturated fat, and red meat in high quantities can make inflammation worse. This is an important distinction since inflammation is commonly attributed to joint pain. Eating those processed foods can also increase your risk of high cholesterol, heart disease, high blood pressure, and obesity.
Some research indicates that turmeric can help with inflammation and pain due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. For those who need a refresher, turmeric is a yellow spice that is commonly used in Indian cuisine.
Experts still need to conduct more research on the potential benefits of turmeric for joint pain, but it seems promising. At the very least, adding a bit to your cooking is safe and delicious.
Eat Anti-Inflammatory Foods
Whether you are dealing with pain in your muscles or joints, early evidence indicates that eating anti-inflammatory or antioxidant-rich foods can help provide relief.
Watermelon could help due to the presence of L-citrulline, an amino acid. Studies from 2013 and 2017 suggested that L-citrulline may reduce muscle soreness as well as recovery heart rate. Other promising options include ginger, pineapple, and cherry juice.
There are numerous natural remedies associated with pain relief, both for muscles and joints. Some of these already have research supporting their abilities, while others only have anecdotal evidence to support them so far, such as CBD oil, which is also conveniently available in the form of CBD gummies.
A 2012 study found that those who use fish oil supplements experienced less morning joint pain and stiffness. This is likely due to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), both of which are unsaturated fats. If you choose to eat more fish instead of using fish oil supplements, you will also get the benefit of the omega-3 fatty acids in the fish, which some of the supplements also contain.
Most people who take fish oil supplements take 300 milligrams each day. That being said, the supplement’s dosage can vary, so read the label. The label will also let you know how much omega-3s are present.
While you should discuss any supplements with your doctor before starting to take them, this is particularly true of fish oil since it can interfere with medications.
Flaxseed has a distinct omega-3 fatty acid from the EPA and DHA mentioned in fish oil. This one is alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), but it serves a similar purpose. It can help ease the various symptoms associated with joint stiffness, including inflammation.
While ground flaxseed contains some ALA, you get much more from flaxseed oil. That is because the flaxseed releases healthy fats when it is crushed or ground. Your body has no method of breaking down whole flaxseeds, leaving you without benefits if you consume flaxseed whole. You can find this supplement as a liquid or capsule.
Most people who take flaxseed
supplements take 500 milligrams, which is the average daily recommendation. This is the equivalent to just an ounce of freshly ground flaxseed or one typical capsule.
Glucosamine sulfate naturally occurs in the fluid surrounding your joints, and it helps with the creation of cartilage. Some people have a glucosamine sulfate deficiency, in which case their bodies cannot protect or produce cartilage effectively.
Some research indicates that taking a glucosamine sulfate supplement can help with joint stiffness and pain, including pain caused by arthritis, osteoarthritis, or swelling. The recommended dosage can vary between 300 and 2,000 milligrams each day, so you will want to consult your doctor to find the appropriate dose for your needs.
Arnica — Topically
People have been using arnica topically for years to treat muscle soreness. It comes from the Arnica montana flower from the European and Siberian mountains. As with most other home remedies, there is still minimal research into arnica and its effects. That being said, a 2013 study indicated that topical ointments and creams with arnica provided relief from exercise-related pain and inflammation.
Other Herbal Supplements
Some of the other herbal supplements that people have connected to joint and muscle relief include thunder god vine, stinging nettle, ginkgo, devil’s claw, bromelain, and Boswellia. However, remember that the FDA does not monitor supplements and herbs, and none of these are proven to have benefits for pain.
Over-the-Counter (OTC) Medications
In the case of the occasional sore muscle, many people turn to over-the-counter
medicines, such as Tylenol (acetaminophen), Advil or Motrin (ibuprofen), aspirin, or
Aleve (naproxen). All of these except acetaminophen are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). They can produce short-term relief, but you should never use these over-the-counter medications for long. They can come with some mild to serious side effects, especially with long-term use. For example, when used long term, NSAIDs can negatively affect the ability of your muscles to repair themselves.
Another reason to be cautious when using over-the-counter medications is that they may interact with prescription medications that you take. Additionally, not all OTC medicines are safe for everyone to use. Those with certain conditions, such as liver disease, ulcers, and kidney disease, should always confirm with their doctor that an OTC medicine is safe to use before taking it.
Ice and Heat
Ice and heat are some of the popular options for reducing the pain in your joints or
muscles. Rely on the ice for more immediate relief. The key point here is that you
should wrap the ice in something thin, like a towel, so you do not directly expose your skin to it.
For the best results, put the ice on the painful area as soon as you can after the activity that causes the pain. Try to put the ice or cold compress on the joints for about 15 to 20 minutes at a time, repeating this a few times each day.
The ice will serve several purposes. It can reduce the swelling and inflammation of your joints, which helps it regain movement. It will also dull your pain receptors, reducing your perception of pain.
Use heat to your advantage later on. This will increase the blood flow to your injured joint or muscle. It can also relieve the pain somewhat.
The exception to waiting to apply heat is for those times that you exercise and feel that you will be sore later. In these cases, applying heat right away can help minimize delayed-onset muscle soreness.
There are many ways to use heat to relieve your pain, from heating pads to hot water bottles to warm baths or showers. You can even try a hot bath with Epsom salts, as they may reduce muscle inflammation and pain, so you get two treatments in one.
Some people take the home remedies of ice and heat a step further and use capsaicin. This comes from chili peppers, and it is surprisingly common in over-the-counter topical creams and ointments. Applying these products can give you similar warmth to what you would get from applying heat, soothing your joint pain.
Some people experience a reduction in their pain thanks to meditation or other
relaxation techniques. These can help by reducing your stress, which will make it easier to cope with the pain.
Yoga and tai chi are particularly appealing options since they combine relaxation,
meditation, low-impact exercise, and breathing techniques.
Extra Tips for Exercise-Related Muscle Pain
While many of the above methods can help reduce muscle or joint pain from
over-exercising, there are some remedies and preventative methods exclusive to that type of pain. These include staying hydrated, eating a half-hour or less after completing your intense workout, getting enough sleep, and not doing hard workouts two days in a row.
While reducing joint and muscle pain is possible, it is best to try to prevent it from
occurring in the first place. In the case of pain from exercising, prevent it by warming up before you exercise. Stretching alone does not do a great job of preventing injury or soreness.
You can also reduce the risk of pain by easing your way into exercise or vigorous
activities. Gradually build yourself up to the harder exercises. Hydration is also crucial, particularly on the days in which you are active.
Some anecdotal evidence also indicates that vitamin C and other antioxidants or protein supplements can help with post-exercise soreness if you consume them ahead of time. These include milk protein concentrate, which is a type of concentrated dairy product that contains between 40 and 90 percent milk protein. You can find it as a powder or in foods fortified with protein. As always with supplements, consult your doctor before incorporating them into your routine.
Consult a Doctor
Remember that everyone is different, so you should always consult your doctor before taking supplements or trying new routines. This is especially true if your joint and muscle pain is due to a condition for which you are already undergoing treatment.
Definitely do not stop taking any medications without consulting your doctor first.
When to See a Doctor In addition to seeing a doctor before making any major changes to your routine or taking medications or supplements, there are also some situations in which you should schedule an appointment regarding your joint and muscle pain. If this pain occurs suddenly and without an apparent cause, you should consult a doctor.
You should also do so if the pain doesn’t go away within five to seven days. Other
situations when you should see your doctor about the pain include when it is severe, there is a joint deformity or rapid swelling, you cannot move the joint, or the area is hot when you touch it and intensely red. You will also want to contact your doctor if the muscle pain comes with a rash or medication change, follows a tick bite, or is accompanied by a fever.
In these cases, you will want your doctor to confirm that the joint and muscle pain is not due to another underlying problem.
Regardless of the cause of your joint and muscle pain, you can typically find some relief via gentle stretches; light exercise; certain routines, like Land’s Best CBD oil; a healthy diet; meditation; and/or massages. Always be sure to talk to your doctor before you make any major changes to your routine or diet.