How to Ease Joint Pain: Medication, Supplements, and Exercises

Fact checked by Olga Sadouskaya, MD
Clinical Pharmacologist, Chief Medical Officer

There are several potential causes of joint pain. Arthritis is a term used to describe a set of disorders characterized by inflammation of the joints, which is a root cause of discomfort for many individuals.

The most frequent kind of arthritis is osteoarthritis (OA). This variety is caused by the deterioration of cartilage as you age.

For some people, joint pain may be a sign of fibromyalgia or even depression, or it might be the result of a joint injury or infection. Being inactive for too long or sitting with poor posture might also cause this.

It’s possible for individuals with arthritis to improve their symptoms, but many don’t know how. Unfortunately, joint discomfort isn’t always treatable with medication or a few exercises, but it also won’t go away if you ignore it.

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Fortunately, there are numerous accessible therapy alternatives that you can explore. You can discover a treatment regimen that is effective for your joint pain by experimenting with different approaches and adjusting them as needed.

What’s the best medication for joint pain?

Your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatories and painkillers as joint pain medication to alleviate the discomfort in your joints caused by arthritis. The root of your joint discomfort will determine the treatment plan prescribed by your doctor. Oral medicines for OA, the most prevalent form of arthritis, include the following:

  • NSAIDs such as ibuprofen or naproxen will help with joint pain. Nonetheless, because of the possibility of stomach ulcers, prolonged use of ibuprofen is not suggested. Prescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) include diclofenac and celecoxib.
  • Since aspirin and other salicylates have the potential to thin the blood, it is important to exercise caution while taking them with other blood-thinning drugs. Acetaminophen (paracetamol), when used for an extended period of time or in large quantities, may cause liver damage or failure.
  • Hydrocodone and codeine are examples of opioid pain medicines. Oral steroid medications include drugs like prednisone and cortisone.
  • Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) may help reduce the course of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and also delay joint destruction if you have been diagnosed with a systemic disease or an autoimmune disorder like RA.
  • Biologics are a class of newer medications that give a more focused response to inflammation for patients with RA. This means that they may be useful for those who don’t get better while using conventional DMARDs.
A group of people doing joint pain yoga

Joint pain and yoga: Best exercises for stiff joints

Joint pain yoga may be a meaningful and joyful alternative to typical types of exercise such as aerobics or aquatic exercise, and it can also provide vital health advantages.

Yoga has the potential to play a significant part in alleviating tension and frustration brought on by pain and disability, as well as in enhancing pleasant sensations and overall wellness.

While yoga has been shown to have many health benefits, it is still crucial to take the necessary safety measures before beginning any new physical exercise.

Before beginning any new treatment, it’s important to discuss the specifics of your plan with your doctor.

It’s crucial that people experiencing joint pain see their orthopedist or rheumatologist about this matter.

In order to get started with yoga, it’s ideal to do so under the guidance of a trained yoga therapist or instructor. It is recommended that those new to group sessions start with a beginning, gentle, or therapeutic class.

4 At-home remedies for joint pain

If you are looking for joint pain home remedies, here are some to try!

1. Massage

You can attain a holistic feeling of well-being via massage therapy. Additionally, it may help you manage joint pain and stiffness.

It’s important to note that neither the American College of Rheumatology nor the American Academy of Family Physicians recommend massage as a therapy since there are no high-quality clinical trials showing that it is effective for arthritis.

They go on to say that despite this, massage is very unlikely to be harmful and may even provide some indirect advantages, such as a reduction in stress.

Your health care provider should be able to suggest a massage therapist who has expertise in treating patients who experience arthritis. You could also see a physical therapist to learn how to do self-massage.

2. Essential oils

There is some scientific evidence to suggest that some joint pain essential oils may help alleviate the discomfort associated with knee and joint pain.

These include bergamot, black cumin (Nigella sativa), myrrh, cinnamon, eucalyptus, frankincense, geranium, ginger, lavender, lemongrass, orange, rosemary, and peppermint.

Avoid getting essential oils directly on your skin, as they may irritate your skin — dilute them first.

Always begin by doing a test on a tiny area of your skin initially. Keep an eye out for any signs of an allergic response.

3. Supplements for joint pain

  • Glucosamine. Glucosamine, commonly used for joint pain, is an amino sugar and a component of cartilage, which is found naturally in your joints. It has been shown that taking it as a supplement may help reduce pain, stiffness, and edema, as well as slow down the loss of cartilage.
  • Chondroitin. This material occurs naturally as a component of the connective tissue in the cartilage and bones of your body. It has been shown that taking it as a supplement may help increase the amount of collagen in your joints, which in turn helps you absorb shock more effectively.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids and fish oil. These supplements, which have an amber appearance and consist of an oily substance, inhibit the production of inflammatory proteins and fatty acids. They are converted by your body into resolvins, which are anti-inflammatory substances that may assist in reducing joint stiffness as well as joint discomfort.
  • Methylsulfonylmethane. It’s possible that taking 1,000–3,000 mg per day or even more of this naturally occurring molecule might alleviate symptoms of knee osteoarthritis, such as pain and swelling.
  • Vitamin D. Researchers who specialize in the study of rheumatoid arthritis have shown that patients often have insufficient levels of vitamin D. Hence, for joint pain, vitamin D may be a good choice. Chronic pain has been linked to insufficient amounts of this vital vitamin. It is possible that taking it as a supplement can assist in the treatment of your arthritis. However, it’s still important to consult with your doctor before taking supplements for joint pain.

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4. Foods that can help with joint pain

Try the Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet has been shown to offer several health advantages, some of which seem to be shared with those associated with the use of NSAIDs.

High amounts of low-glycemic fruit, vegetables, and legumes; high amounts of unsaturated fats, particularly olive oil; moderate to high amounts of wild fish; and low amounts of dairy products and red meat are the mainstays of the Mediterranean diet.

Fish oil

Omega-3 fatty acids, which are abundant in fish oils, are responsible for their health benefits. The anti-inflammatory effects of fish oil have been well studied, and they have been shown to be very useful for relieving joint discomfort.

Wild salmon, trout, and sardines are just a few cold-water species that are naturally rich in fish oil. Flaxseeds, chia seeds, and soybeans are all great plant-based options.

Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower as some of the foods that can help with joint pain

Cruciferous vegetables

To complement your regular vegetable intake, prioritize half a cup of cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and kale daily. All of them are excellent sources of antioxidants, vitamins, and fiber.

An enzyme that contributes to joint pain and inflammation may be blocked by sulforaphane, an antioxidant chemical found in cruciferous vegetables. It may benefit athletes whose joints are constantly under stress, not only those with arthritis.

Herbs and spices

Anti-inflammatory properties are a hallmark of such spices as turmeric and ginger. Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory effects have made it a staple in traditional Asian medicine as well as Indian cooking.

If you’re looking for a powerful anti-inflammatory food, try incorporating turmeric and ginger into your smoothies, eggs, or sauces.

Green tea

Many studies have looked at the health benefits of green tea, making it one of the most studied drinks in the world. Drinking green tea alters immunological responses in the body that are associated with arthritis.

The polyphenolic chemicals found in green tea have anti-inflammatory characteristics and have been proven to be a beneficial supplement to nutritional treatment, alleviating the side effects and pain associated with long-term usage of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

In conclusion

Medications, physical therapy, lifestyle adjustments, and even home remedies are all viable choices for relieving joint pain. The root of your joint discomfort must be identified before any treatment can begin.

Joint pain is a symptom of an underlying medical issue that has to be diagnosed and treated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that among those with inflammatory arthritis like RA, the ones who receive a diagnosis early, start treatment, and learn to correctly manage their illness have a higher quality of life.

January 26, 2023