The joints of your body allow you to move, from walking and running to the fine motor control necessary for precision work with your hands. However, when your joints start to swell, everyday life becomes a little more complicated.
Medically called joint effusion, swelling happens when fluid fills the space around a joint in response to injury. This could be a sudden trauma, irritation caused by repeated motion, or wearing down of the joint due to some form of arthritis.
No matter the reason for your swollen joints, the Bahri Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Clinic team offers diagnosis and treatment. The good news is that you can often treat swollen joints at home. We’ve compiled these tips to help you reduce the swelling.
Arthritis: the primary culprit behind swollen joints
Perhaps the most frequent cause of joint swelling, arthritis comes in many forms. The most common are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis develops from wear and tear over a length of time. The cartilage covering the ends of bones erodes, and fluid retention often starts once a joint deteriorates past a certain point.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder where your body starts to attack joint tissue. Though the cause differs from osteoarthritis, the outcome is often the same regarding joint effusion. Other forms of arthritis, like gout, psoriatic arthritis, and septic arthritis, also cause joints to swell.
Other conditions can cause swollen joints, too. Fractures, dislocations, sprains, torn ligaments, and torn tendons are reasons you may notice the puffy appearance of joint inflammation.
Lupus is another autoimmune disease that causes joint swelling, as are other conditions such as:
- Ankylosing spondylitis
- Rheumatic fever
When physical injuries result in distorted joints and extreme pain, seek medical attention promptly since this indicates problems beyond simple swelling.
Tips for reducing swelling in your joints
If you suffer from occasionally swollen joints, you may be able to control the condition and its accompanying symptoms at home. Consider one or more of these strategies to reduce swelling.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs)
Certain over-the-counter pain medications have anti-inflammatory properties as well as their ability to control pain. These drugs are called NSAIDs, including aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen. Taken as directed, they can help to reduce swelling in joints.
While it may seem counterintuitive to go for a walk if your ankles, hips, or knees are swollen, movement is often the best thing you can do to promote drainage of swollen joints. The motions in mild to moderate activities like walking, swimming, or biking help your body pump fluids. Muscle contractions are part of your natural fluid movement systems. There’s no need to overdo it, but any additional motion helps.
Control your weight
Extra pounds and systemic inflammation go hand-in-hand. Gain weight, and your levels of inflammation rise. Lose weight, even in modest amounts, and inflammation goes down.
Rest, ice, compression, and elevation are the four parts of a home care routine that control pain and swelling in joints. Rest your body from activities that aggravate your joint, use cold compresses to ice the joint, elevate the swollen joint above the level of your heart when possible, and wrap the joint in elastic bandages.
Contact us at Bahri Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Clinic when all else fails. With two locations in Jacksonville, we’re conveniently located. Schedule your visit by phone or through our online booking tool. Together, we can bring your swollen joints under control. Make an appointment today.