As we age, there are some issues that seem more common than others. One of the most common issues some seniors must deal with is joint pain. Though joint pain is more common for seniors who have arthritis, it’s an issue that other seniors may also face from time to time.
In most cases, joint pain for seniors that’s minor can be dealt with through self-care at home. However, if you have joint pain that becomes increasingly severe or won’t resolve itself after a week of self-treatment, you may need to contact your doctor.
Best Ways to Relieve Joint Pain
1. Use Medication
When it comes to treating joint aches and pains at home, using over-the-counter remedies is usually your first line of defense.
In this case, you can treat pain using pills and NSAID medications that treat inflammation and therefore reduce pain, such as ibuprofen (Motrin) and acetaminophen (Tylenol) as well as naproxen (Aleve).
Another type of medication that may be more effective for joint pain is a pain relieving cream. Gently massage pain relieving ointment or cream into the affected areas for best results.
Creams typically work quickly and well when it comes to aches and pains no matter where they are located, including knee pain and wrist pain. Some of these include Ben-Gay, Icy Hot, and Aspercreme. You can get an odorless cream that sinks in fast so it’s not greasy.
Choose between cooling or warming pain creams depending on what feels better to you. You can also try a lightweight gel or an easy to apply pain reducing spray.
Follow the directions for using NSAIDs or pain relief cream, and call a doctor or pharmacist for any questions.
2. Get Moving
When you have aches, you may be tempted to lie down and rest, and though that’s not a bad idea, movement and stretching can actually help alleviate pain.
If you usually exercise but don’t stretch, make sure you institute a few minutes of basic stretching into your routine. Stretching warms up your muscles and reduces the risk of pain and injury.
If you don’t really exercise, now is the time to start. Staying active can help reduce pain in your joints, whether you have arthritis or not.
In any case, try to avoid high-impact exercises that can be particularly hard on your joints, and stick to low-impact exercises that keep you moving without pain.
Some of these include swimming, walking, bike riding, playing golf, or beginner yoga exercises.
Try to get moving for half an hour at least a few times a week, if not more. Don’t push yourself if you are in pain – that won’t help. Exercise shouldn’t hurt, so if you feel worse after exercising, discontinue movement and contact your doctor.
3. Try a Massage
If you find your muscles tight and sore, a gentle massage could be a relaxing way to ease the pain.
A massage works to release the tightness of your muscles, keeping them loose and relaxed to minimize aches and pains.
Not only that, but a massage can be a great way to dissolve tension, which leads to muscle and joint pain.
Avoid any massage type that is too harsh or hard on your body and instead tell the masseuse you need a gentle rubdown to ease joint aches and pains.
A hot stone massage is also a great way to relieve pain, since heat is a natural and effective pain reliever. Treat yourself to a full body massage and find your taut muscles relaxing and pain easing away.
What better excuse for a spa day?
4. Hot Bath
When you’re feeling achy, sometimes a warm or even hot bath can be very soothing. Make sure the temperature is not too hot, and dip your elbow in before you get in to avoid burning yourself.
Fill a tub with the water temperature you enjoy and allow yourself at least half an hour to soak. A bath feels great on sore muscles and joints, and you may find yourself feeling a lot better once you get out of the tub.
If you have Epsom salts, pour some into the tub. Epsom salts are great for minimizing inflammation, which can happen as the result of joint and muscle pain.
Hot water gets your blood moving, which aids in good circulation. The water also works to loosen the joints so they aren’t as stiff, and ensure your muscles become nice and relaxed.
Taking a hot bath in the evenings is a great way to help you feel tired and relaxed so you can go to bed and get a good night’s sleep.
5. Consume Ginger
You have likely heard that certain foods can help when it comes to treating a wide array of medical conditions. Ginger is one of those foods.
There are many ways to add ginger to your diet. You can add it to food, drink ginger tea, or bake sweets that include ginger.
Any way you decide to make ginger a part of your diet is great, because there have been numerous studies done on ginger, and participants in these studies reported less pain and inflammation after taking in ginger.
What ginger does is block the body’s production of materials that cause inflammation in the body, which can lead to painful muscles and joints.
If you don’t enjoy the taste of ginger, you can take ginger pills or use dried ginger. It’s completely natural, so it’s worth a try when it comes to finding natural ways to reduce pain that have zero side effects!
6. Try Cold or Hot Therapy
When it comes to muscle and joint pain, one way to help reduce pain is by using cold or heat therapy. There’s no aftereffects, it’s free, and completely natural. It’s also easy to do at home.
Athletes often use cold and heat therapy to treat aches and pains as well as muscle injuries. To try cold therapy, grab a cold pack or make one using a wash cloth and bag of frozen veggies.
Apply to the area where you have the most pain for 20 minutes. Then, take a break for half an hour. Add the cold pack again. Repeat this several times.
You may prefer heat treatments, which would consist of using a heating pad in painful areas. Do this just as you would a cold pack.
For optimal results, you can combine hot and cold treatments and use them interchangeably for significan pain relief.
At night, switch your regular blanket for an electric blanket. This will keep your joints and muscles from tensing up at night while you sleep.
Most of us lead busy lives and don’t take much time to wind down. Relaxing doesn’t just mean lying down when you feel pain. Relaxing is a whole mind and body approach you can use to alleviate painful, tight muscles.
Spend time each week devoted to self-care. This can mean taking a hot bath each night then reading a book. You can use meditation to help relax.
Low-impact yoga is a great way to help loosen your muscles and unwind after a long, stressful day. If you’re feeling tense, this can contribute to more pain.
Use a variety of methods to help relax yourself in order to lower the risk of pain from your achy joints. Write in a journal, take a walk, or use an app to help yourself de-stress.
Light some candles while you lie on the couch watching your favorite show. Give yourself permission to take a load off and let your body be in a relaxed state. If you treat yourself like this often, you may find the pain becoming less of an issue.
8. Lose Weight
Did you know that being overweight can cause more stress on your joints, leading to pain and inflammation?
If you are overweight, now is a great time to drop a few pounds safely. You may find that once the pressure is off your joints, you don’t feel pain as much as you did before.
If you are looking to lose weight, try to focus on food first. Eating healthy and adding fruits and vegetables to your diet is a great way to safely and easily lose a few pounds.
Eating a healthy diet combined with moving a few times a week can help you make a difference in your body weight and take some of the stress from your body.
Maintaining a healthy weight is a great way to keep your heart healthy, too.
If you’re not sure how to tailor your diet or exercise regimen, talk to a personal trainer, a nutritionist, or your doctor to ensure you’re following a healthy meal plan and doing the right kind of workout for you.
9. Sit Up Straight
Have you ever noticed that when you are slouched or hunched over, your back hurts when you rise?
This is because when you don’t sit up straight, you are putting pressure on your spine and joints, which leads to pain.
You may notice an immediate difference when you decide to sit up straight instead of slouch. Sitting up straight can help take the stress from your body and alleviate painful, aching joints.
Whether you have pain in your neck, shoulders, back, or legs, your posture could be a contributing factor.
Notice how your body moves when you walk, sit, and stand. Take note of whether you are walking tall with your shoulders forward or whether you are hunched or slouched over.
Repeated slouching is not only painful for your body, it’s back for it. Make a conscious effort to improve your posture and you may find joint pain disappearing.
10. Try Acupuncture
If you’re not familiar with acupuncture, it’s a popular Chinese treatment that uses hair-thin needles inserted into pressure points on your body in order to relieve pain.
To try it, make sure you find a certified and licensed acupuncturist, then tell him or her what your specific problems are, noting the exact areas where you are having the most pain and inflammation.
You may have to undergo more than one session, but many patients report a decrease in pain after trying this centuries-old method for reducing pain.
And despite the fact that acupuncture uses needles for treatment and you may be thinking the worst, it’s actually known to be pain-free. The needles are so thin that you can’t even feel them being inserted into your skin.
Acupuncture is used for a variety of issues and many people have had great success with it.