Hendricks Regional Health Blog

What You Can Do About Joint Pain

Posted by: Kyle Ritter, M.D.   |   Tuesday, July 16, 2013   |   Latest Articles   |   Back to Blog

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For active kids and adults, it’s frustrating to be sidelined by aches and pains. Joint pain is a common complaint we see in patients. Depending on the cause of your joint pain, there are some things you can try at home to relieve soreness and swelling.

When treating minor injuries at home, the main goals are to control inflammation and limit further injury to surrounding tissue. For reducing pain and inflammation, remember “RICE”:

Appropriate rest reduces repetitive strain injuries in the joint. Rest provides the joint with time to heal and helps prevent additional injury.

Applying ice reduces swelling. Ice the joint two to three times per day for approximately 20 minutes each time.

Compress the joint with a brace or wrap to help reduce swelling. Braces or wraps can also help keep the joint properly aligned.

Elevation is another way to reduce swelling by working with gravity to drain fluid that would otherwise accumulate in the joint. Elevation is most effective when the joint is kept higher than the heart.

Over-the-counter medications are also helpful in reducing pain and swelling. Commonly used pain relievers called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as naproxen and ibuprofen, also play a role in the treatment of joint pain. People with kidney disease, bleeding problems or stomach ulcers should not take NSAIDS.

When to Call a Doctor
If your symptoms have not gone away after trying RICE therapy for one week, you should set up an appointment with your doctor, a sports medicine physician or an orthopedic specialist for further evaluation.

When to Go to the ER
Some injuries require immediate medical intervention and should not be treated at home. If you experience any of the following symptoms you should go to the emergency department:

  • If you cannot put weight on the joint, you may have a fracture that requires immobilization or surgery.
  • Fever (may indicate infection)
  • Unbearable pain
  • Drainage
  • Puncture or large wounds

Always keep in mind that putting off a trip to your doctor for an injury can hinder healing. The earlier you treat your injury the better your chances for complete recovery and getting back to the activities you love.

Dr. Kyle Ritter is an orthopedic surgeon with the Hendricks Regional Health Medical Group. He is a member of the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine and the Arthroscopy Association of North America and is board-certified by the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery. Call (317) 718-4676 to schedule.

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