Pain in the joints
Definition and key terms
Joint pain is felt in or around the joint itself and is called periarticular pain. The appropriate key terms for this pain will define the corresponding pathology:
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Rheumatism – a generic and nonspecific term for an osteoarticular disorder affecting a joint or connective tissue, usually an inflammation affecting the musculoskeletal system. The medical discipline that diagnoses and treats this problem is called rheumatology.
Arthralgia: simple pain in the joint, manifested by an acute and transitory condition.
Arthritis: inflammation of the joint, characterized by pain, heat, swelling, redness (in Latin Pain, Heat, Tumor, Blush). It does not affect the cartilage (unlike osteoarthritis). And it affects only one joint (monoarthritis) unlike polyarthritis which affects several joints.
Osteoarthritis: progressive destruction of cartilage, mechanical problem Chronic degenerative rheumatism (see osteoarthritis)
Tendinitis: inflammation of the tendon, often with a periarticular syndrome: bursitis, capsulitis, epicondylitis (tennis elbow), fasciitis… The tendon is the part of the muscle that connects it to the joint, to the bone tissue. All terms ending in -ite refer to inflammation.
Algodystrophy: Complex general pain syndrome (GPS), which affects one limb and usually after an operation.
Joint pain will affect only one joint and will be manifested by one or more of the following symptoms:
- Pain (Pain) located, and depending on the pathology:
- Difficulty moving the joint (osteoarthritis), moving, walking The pain is then mechanical: it disappears at rest, reappears on release and worsens with effort and over the course of the day but can improve with gentle movement. The joint is neither red nor swollen, but often deforms with age.
- Inflammation: Redness (Blush), Warmth (Heat). The pain is inflammatory, that is, it is permanent even at rest, and it gets worse with effort.
- Acute, sometimes sharp, intense pain comparable to needlesticks in the joint, especially in the case of gout (uric acid): microcrystalline arthritis
- Swelling (tumour), bloating: leakage of fluid (blood or synovial fluid, which is the fluid in the joint) especially after trauma.
- The pain can also be neurological and is then qualified as chlodystrophy: it is both inflammatory and mechanical, sometimes permanent, sometimes moving.
The other symptoms that should lead to the suspicion of a more serious cause are
- Fever, a rise in body temperature that can be a sign of infection.
- A rash near the painful joint
- A bleeding that may be the result of an associated bleeding disorder
Arthritic joint pain affects 10% of the population at all ages. Osteoarthritis increases with age and affects perhaps 30 to 40% of the population even before age 65 and about 80% after age 75.
Arthralgia, rheumatism or tendinitis affects all human beings at any age. These figures are only indicative since these pathologies are so common during the life of a human being.
Algodystrophy usually evolves spontaneously in 1 or 2 years in 90% of the cases, but it can also last for years in 5 or 10% of the cases.
Gout (uric acid) affects 0.5% of the population1,.
Violent injury or shock / Repetitive motion, prolonged exertion
Repetitive and forced efforts as in dance, or any sport, practiced intensely for years, can cause local inflammation of the joint, or even in the long run this repeated movement can wear out the joint and in particular its cartilage.
In addition, an impact on a joint that results in an injury such as a fracture, a tear in the tendon or muscle, or a sprain has immediate or long-term consequences:
Either this leads to acute and immediate inflammation, with possible fluid spillage such as blood (hemarthrosis) or synovial fluid, with increased joint volume and inflammatory pain: this is arthritis.
In the ten years following the accident or the physical training, there is a wearing away of the cartilage, or even a progressive destruction and little by little the installation of mechanical pain: this is the osteoarthritis.
Or it manifests itself in the form of sequelae of the trauma, by residual joint discomfort.
Operation, aftermath: cotton dystrophy
Still poorly understood, cotton dystrophy usually follows an operation that probably causes neurological sequelae by the section of a small nerve. But the causes are still poorly identified.
Also known as General Complex Pain Syndrome (GCS), this recurrent joint pain can be combined with a retraction of the fascia (the membrane surrounding the muscle) of the joint, as typically seen in Dupuytren’s disease (retraction of the palmar fascia).
Infection or sequelae of an infection
An acute infection of any origin (fungi, virus, bacteria) can cause the inflammation of a joint: it is the infectious arthritis.
Joint pain can also be related to the body’s position in space.
Shift work: standing, on the computer (mouse)
As in intense sports activity, repetitive movements, such as daily use of the computer mouse, can cause epicondylitis (or tendonitis of the elbow, epicondyle) as in tennis (tennis elbow).
Podology: soles, high heels
Unnatural postures, such as those imposed by wearing high heels or worn-out shoe soles, cause joint fatigue, which can worsen over time.
Anatomy: asymmetric length of the lower limbs, congenital malformation
One leg shorter than the other, without orthopedic correction of the sole type, leads to joint fatigue, which can lead to cartilage wear and tear and osteoarthritis within ten years.
Rarely, this benign or malignant cause leads to arthritis.
Many medications are acidifying and can, like acidic foods, promote the formation of microcrystals in the joints, leading to microcrystalline arthritis.
The land causes
The acid-base balance
In addition to the side effects of certain medications, joint pain is due to an imbalance in the diet:
- Excess of uric acid rich proteins of animal origin (sardines, dairy products, delicatessen…) or vegetable origin (lentils, soya)
- Insufficient alkaline foods that buffer the body’s acidity: green vegetables (except sorrel, rhubarb, raw spinach), oil seeds (almonds, nuts, hazelnuts, sesame paste, rich in mineral salts), sweet fruits.
If there are not enough alkalizing foods on the menu, the body will draw on its mineral resources to reduce the acidity of the tissues, leading to both demineralization (see osteoarthritis) and the formation of microcrystals in the joints. It is these crystals (urates, oxalates…) that will be at the origin of joint pain, or of kidney stones for example.
Poor blood circulation
Poor blood circulation also causes poor irrigation of bone and periarticular tissue. A poorly irrigated and therefore malnourished joint will deteriorate.
In addition to the acid-base balance, which is essential and in which diet plays a central role, it is advisable to avoid refined foods with a too high glycemic index (white rice, white flour, white sugar, etc.).
These refined foods form “tails” that foul the body, and depending on the cooking temperature (above 110°C), may even form glycosylated proteins that oxidize and are therefore toxic to the body.
However, whole foods can be irritating to some intestines. They contain some phytic acid and therefore may be slightly acidifying. A good compromise can be to eat semi-full foods (bread, rice, pasta).
In addition, the consumption of spring water, with a low mineral content (at least one and a half liters outside of meals), plays an important role in the proper functioning of the joint and bone systems. The joint contains a fluid called synovial fluid.
The sedentary lifestyle
It is important to perform physical activity regularly, avoiding a sedentary lifestyle, for example, at least half an hour of walking a day, to promote the circulation of fluids in the body. This promotes good fluidity of movement, in particular the circulation of synovial fluid in the joints, and helps to avoid aggravating joint pain.
Osteoarthritis, but also the autoimmune field involved in some arthritis, is a priori genetically transmitted by the parents.
The cold and humidity increase the pain, especially in cases of osteoarthritis. So the weather has its role too.
Hormones (menopause, andropause)
The decrease in estrogen-type sex hormones, especially progesterone, favors the prevalence of osteoarthritis or osteoporosis after menopause in women, or even andropause in men.
The diagnosis of joint pain will involve several medical techniques. Mainly medical imaging techniques such as..:
- The radiography
- MRI, Magnetic Resonance Imaging
- The scanner (X-ray)
- Bone Scanning
This diagnosis is also based on standard analyses:
- Blood: CBC, Blood Count Formula, including markers of inflammation or demineralization:
- Sedimentation rate VS
- C-reactive protein (CRP)
- Electrophoresis, protein profiling
- HLA typing (genetic terrain)
- Rheumatoid factors
- Calcium and phosphorus levels (serum calcium, phosphorus), parathormone, calcitonin (thyroid and parathyroid)
- Urine: measurement of acidity and pH of urine. It reflects the acidity of the tissues.
But local analysis will also be done, in case of a spill, of a sample of joint fluid:
- Arthrocentesis: Puncture of the joint (fluid in the joint) for :
- Bacteriological analysis: borrelia (Lyme), Strep A-β hemolytic
- Microbiological culture
- Search for microcrystals (urates, oxalates…)
Not to mention the classic anamnesis:
- History of bacterial, viral or fungal infection (urethritis, Lyme disease or Lyme borreliosis, improperly treated angina, etc.) or abnormal increase in body temperature (fever)
- Medical history
- Family History
The medications used in conventional medicine to relieve joint pain are grouped into several classes:
- NSAIDs: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs: Aspirin, Paracetamol
- Corticosteroids, of the cortisone family
- Opiates: codeine, morphine, Tramadol… with risk of addiction.
- Local cocaine-based anesthetics: Xylocaine© .
- Without forgetting the old molecules: salicylates, gold salts, chloroquine, minocycline, etc.
- Synthetic Hormones
- Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol)
- Bisphosphonates: Osteoporosis
- Colchicine, diuretic: gout
As with any drug, most of these molecules are prescription drugs (with the exception of aspirin and paracetamol).
The hygiene of life
Physical activity or sport
Physical activity is important to limit the effects of a sedentary lifestyle (see above), but the level of physical activity will vary with the level of pain:
In the case of osteoarthritis, the beginning will be difficult and painful, but a gentle movement will relieve the joint.
The case of arthritis, the permanent inflammation will limit all sports practice to soft activities: walking, or soft mobilization techniques through movement such as the Alexander, Feldenkrais or Qi Kong methods.
In all cases, warm-up is important, especially through massage techniques.
It drains the tissues manually and thus promotes the elimination of acids and toxins, stimulates blood and lymphatic circulation and also promotes the fluidity of movement.
It will be practiced with massage oils (arnica, calendula, sweet almond) possibly mixed with essential oils for their soothing effects (see below).
Good stress management
Stress is acidifying, it is one of the causes of the body’s acidity. So it can have a deleterious effect on joint pain. It is possible to reduce stress levels:
- Eating light at night and going to bed early…
- Practice meditation, yoga or sophrology
- By working the breath through the belly
- If necessary with nutritional supplements or herbal teas
Walking in nature: park, forest, near a waterfall
Yoga breathing exercises for example (Prânayama)
Favorable renal elimination
Hydration (see above): 1.5 liters of low mineral water per day.
Diuretic food or herbal teas if needed: asparagus, leeks, cabbage, watercress, dandelion leaves (salad or herbal tea), cherry stem (decoction)
In case of joint pain, balneotherapy can also be an interesting natural treatment and care. It is also possible to perform sea baths and thermal cures.
Joint pain: which natural treatment is best?
As for the natural treatments that prevent the destruction of cartilage, you can go to the article: Osteoarthritis: natural causes and treatments
What is the best natural treatment for joint pain? In fact, there are many natural anti-inflammatory remedies, most of which have been studied and are available as references.
In phytotherapy3 , remedies come in different forms: herbal teas, capsules, powder, mother tinctures.
The main remedies
- Blackcurrant (Ribes nigrum), leaves: drains uric acid
- Ash (Fraxinus excelsior), leaves: drains uric acid
- Meadow Queen (Filipendula ulmaria / Spiraea ulmaria), flowering tops: drains uric acid. Infusion at less than 80°C. Contraindication: anticoagulants.
- Nettle (Urtica dioïca), leaves: draining, anti-inflammatory
- Lime tree sapwood (Tilia sylvestris): drains acids, urinary and bile ducts
- Willow bark (Salix alba) : (contraindication: anticoagulants)
- Scrofularia nodosa (Scrophularia nodosa), plant: European plant with the same active ingredients as harpagophyte: mother tincture or EPS
- Harpagophytum (Harpagophytum procumbens), root: more effective in maceration or mother tincture. Available in powder, dry extract. Precautions: caution in case of treatment of hypertension (hypotensive), blood sugar, kidney failure.
The first three plants are found in many dietary supplements:
Turmeric (Curcuma longa), root: (contraindications: anticoagulants, symptoms of Covid-19)4
Ginger (Zingiber officinalis): mother tincture, powder, essential oil
Incense (Boswellia carterii) : mother tincture, dry extract, essential oil
Cat’s claw (Uncaria tomentosa), bark: immunostimulant and anti-inflammatory. In powder, capsules or decoction (Contraindications: pregnancy, lactation, Parkinson’s disease, Covid-19 symptoms).
Taking nutritional supplements can also be an interesting natural treatment for joint pain. The following dietary supplements are known for their effectiveness:
Bromelain, an enzyme extracted from the stem of the pineapple, has been shown to be effective on inflammation, particularly of the joints (there is even a drug for post-operative edema, Extranase©): 1 2500 GDU capsule per day, 3 weeks. (contraindications: anticoagulants, including aspirin)
Curcumin, extracted from turmeric (see above): tablets
Fish Omega 3: 1 capsule per day, 3 weeks. (contraindications: anticoagulants, including aspirin)
Several cocoons are effective for joint pains, whatever their origin, in mother’s milk (5 to 15 drops per day) or in D1 dilution (20 to 100 drops per day).
The main remedies
Against any joint pain, whatever its origin, the most common natural gem therapy treatment is the blackcurrant (Ribes nigrum) outbreak: anti-inflammatory, cortisone-mimetic, anti-allergic.
Several sprouts can complete the blackcurrant outbreak, depending on the origin of the joint pain at the same dose:
- Blueberry (Vaccinium vitis idaea)
- White Birch (Betula alba/pendula): osteoporosis, rickets, growth, arthritis and polyarthritis, drainage
- Carpeon (Carpinus betulus)
- Rosehip (Rosa canina): osteoporosis, demineralization
- Ash (Fraxinus excelsior): gout, joint deformities
- Juniper (Juniperus communis): drainage (uric acid), rheumatism
- Mistletoe (Viscum album): osteoarthritis
- Field elm (Ulmus campestris): gout, rheumatism
- Poplar (Populus nigra): drop by drop
- Pine (Pinus montana/sylvestris): regenerates bones and cartilage, osteoarthritis, rheumatism
- Pear tree (Pyrus communis): rheumatism
- Apple tree (Malus X communis): rheumatism
- The bramble (Rubus fruticosus): bone and cartilage regeneration, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis
- Fir (Abies pectinata/alba): osteoporosis, growth, osteomyelitis, osteochondrosis
- Red vine (Vitis vinifera): arthritis and osteoarthritis, osteoporosis
- Virginia creeper (Ampelopsis weitchii / Parthenocissus tricuspidata): arthritis and osteoarthritis, autoimmune diseases, fibromyalgia
- Viorne (Viburnum lantana): arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis
The natural local treatment of joint pain can be provided by one or more essential oils mixed5 , preferably diluted in a vegetable oil (e.g. Arnica montana).
Frequently Asked Questions
What causes joint pain?
– An unbalanced diet: too rich in uric acid –
A blood circulation disorder – An inheritance
or a hormonal disorder –
An injury, an operation or the aftermath of an infection – A
What natural treatment is best?
– Phytotherapy and gemmotherapy –
Aromatherapy – Use
of food supplements
What are the other recommendations?
– Practicing a sport activity – Learning to control
stress – Encourage good oxygenation
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