Joint Pain Strikes Nearly A Third of Americans  

Understanding causes and treatment options key to improving health

DAYTON, Ohio (October 7, 2013) – Our body’s joints may play a crucial role in our body like helping our heads pivot and our legs bend, but for the majority of Americans these small adjoining parts of our skeletal system can quickly become a pain in the neck.

Kick-starting an exercise program, training for a local road race or simply returning to yard work after a long season of inactive activity – not to mention the aging process – can all cause joint pain. Joint pain is an everyday occurrence for most Americans. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 30 percent of adults they surveyed had experienced some form of joint pain in the preceding 30 days. Knee pain was reported in nearly 20 percent of the adults, followed by pain in the shoulder, finger and hip.

Muscular skeletal joint pain also plays a large role in why patients may go to their primary care physicians, local emergency rooms and, even more so, local orthopaedic offices.

“There is no doubt that joint pain is the vast majority of what I see,” said Brian Lewis, MD, orthopaedic surgeon at Montgomery Orthopaedic Surgeons and Associates.

Joint pain has been a part of Deborah Fullmer’s life for at least the past decade. She came to see Dr. Lewis, a Premier Health Specialists’ physician, this past spring when she could no longer handle the pain she was feeling in her hands while trying to do her work as a secretary. Her pain was caused by overuse and her diagnosis was carpal tunnel syndrome, a condition in which pressure on the nerve in the wrist affects the feeling and movement of parts of the hand. Thankfully, surgery was able to remedy the issue, but when she told Dr. Lewis about the knee pain she had been battling for years, he suggested a different solution.

“I’m in physical therapy and I’m learning so much,” Fullmer said. “It is amazing how just stretching my muscles is helping.”

Joint pain can be caused by osteoarthritis, injury, prolonged abnormal posture or even repetitive motion. Age, genetics and weight are common risk factors of joint pain, Dr. Lewis said. Fullmer’s case involved overuse of certain joints, but Dr. Lewis said most individual’s joints become painful because they become too ambitious such as starting a new workout routine without learning to strengthen muscles first or even training for a marathon without listening when their body is telling them to rest.

“I am not going to encourage anyone to not be active or get out there, but I do think people cause more pain by initiating an activity program that wouldn’t be right for them,” Dr. Lewis said.

One of the top ways a person can reduce their risk for joint pain – and the progression of arthritis – is to maintain a healthy weight. Another way to avoid joint pain is to stay active. Research has shown that aerobic and strength training plays an important role in joint health. One of the greatest benefits for those with arthritis is to engage in low-impact activity such as walking 150 minutes a week although studies have shown that more than half of adults with the health issue walked less than 90 minutes per week, the CDC said.

“If you keep the muscles and the soft tissues around the joints stronger they are better able to support the joints and bones and will reduce the risk of pain,” he said.

Joint pain should never prevent someone from being physically active for the long-term. Those who do experience joint pain should know there is always hope for restoration through the use of many treatments such as physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medications.

“All of these things are meant to manage symptoms of the joint pain in order to get you out there and to keep you physically active because, in the end, that’s the most important part of joint health,” Lewis said.

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