Rest, Ice and Heat
- According to Mayoclinic.com, people with knee or other types of joint inflammation should rest for a certain period of time to avoid further aggravation of the condition. During this hiatus from physical activity or work (particularly physical work), ice should be used within the first 48 hours after the onset of pain. Ice causes vasoconstriction (narrowing of the blood vessels), which lessens inflammation and consequential pain by reducing blood and lymph flow to the affected joint. You should use ice packs, frozen vegetables packages or ice bags and compress the ice against your aching joint at 20-minute intervals throughout the day. Elevating your joint above your heart can also assuage swelling and pain. Once the initial swelling has subsided, you can apply heat (i.e. heating pads) for promoting blood flow to the joint.
Medications and Supplements
- Since joint inflammation usually causes some degree of pain, anti-inflammatory medications such as naproxen and ibuprofen can help alleviate both conditions. These medications are Cox-2 inhibitors which reduce swelling and pain by minimizing the effects of Cox-2 enzymes and prostaglandins (chemicals known as substance P), the body's natural inflammatory response to friction or injury to a joint. Topical solutions such as Bengay can also provide temporary relief for joint inflammation. You can also try glucosamine and chondroin supplements for joint pain. These supplements are believed to promote cartilage growth which can alleviate your joint inflammation. In more severe cases, your doctor may prescribe steroids or a cortisone shot in your joint. The drug Celebrex is often prescribed for arthritis inflammation and pain.
- Resting your joint is effective initially but exercise can help you maintain flexibility in your inflamed joint. It also promotes the flow of blood to the joint, bringing healing oxygen and nutrients. If you have finger joint pain, try touching your thumb with all four fingers throughout the day. Also move the fingers around in different directions. Rolling or shrugging the shoulders can alleviate inflammation in that particular joint or in the neck. For lower-back inflammation and pain (in lumbar vertebrae), try pulling one or both legs toward your chest, or press your back to the floor with your knees propped up. Once you increase the mobility in your joints, light resistance training with weights (or even without weight, i.e. knee squats) can further increase blood flow to your joint. Walking, bicycling and cardiovascular exercises are also effective for treating joint inflammation.