Joint pain is not necessarily always a part of aging. It can be a serious problem as it can affect our functional capacity. Arthritis is a common term which means inflammation and stiffness of joints leading to joint pains. It can have a number of etiologies including osteoarthritis, gout, rheumatoid arthritis among others. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease because of wear and tear of cartilage leading to joint pains and soreness. Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory joint disease which is not benign and can even cause death if not managed properly.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic disease which causes pain at numerous points throughout the body.The underlying mechanism is over sensitive neural cells in the brain and spinal cord. The degenerative disc is another cause of chronic pain. With degeneration of discs in the neck and lower back, there is bulging or rupture of soft material inside the disc which presses on the nerves leading to pain. Depression can also lead to a backache and joint pains. There is increased perception pain in depression. Management is focussed towards individual disorders and can vary from lifestyle changes to surgery. Lifestyle changes like losing weight and exercise can reduce the risk of osteoarthritis by about 50%. Wearing comfortable and correct footwear also helps. Quitting smoking has a beneficial effect on bone health as well as improving the response to treatment. If the pain is not relieved by lifestyle measures than medicines like pain killers and muscle relaxants can provide relief. But these should be taken after consultation with your doctor especially in patients who are taking treatment for high BP and diabetes. Other alternative therapies like joint fluid replacement are for those who do not benefit from pain killers. If all these measures fail then your doctor may recommend joint replacement surgery. Thus the aim of management is a reduction of disability and restoring the functional capacity as much as possible.