What is Joint Pain
Many people experience joint pain that can be caused by work (work-related) or exacerbated by work (work-relevant).
Joint pain can affect all joints, and although joint pain is the primary symptom, secondary symptoms can include
- Muscular cramping or tightness in surrounding areas
- Weakness and clumsiness (usually due to the above cramping tiring the muscles), and
- Pins and needles or numbness.
While joint pain in rarely due to anything serious, you should attend your GP urgently if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Unexplained weight loss
- Night sweats
- Nausea or vomiting
- Pain that is constant and unaffected by mechanical stimuli (eg movement)
- Palpable lumps or visible changes to surrounding areas
- Any other unusual symptoms
What Causes Joint Pain?
Joint pain can occur following physical trauma (such as a road traffic collision or accident at work), however, the likelihood of developing symptoms and the severity of symptoms depends on a combination of factors including
- Repeated or excessive stresses beyond your joint’s coping abilities – such as through poor manual handling techniques at home or work, or poor work habits such as not rotating tasks where possible or not taking regular stretch breaks from static positions.
- Individual factors – being female, increasing age and pregnancy all increase the likelihood of developing pain.
- Physical wellbeing factors – smoking, obesity and poor general fitness (including strength and flexibility) all increase the likelihood of developing pain and the length of time it takes to recover.
- Psychological wellbeing factors – stress, depression and anxiety all increase the likelihood of developing pain and even increase the severity of pain and the length of time it takes to recover.
How can I help myself?
The majority of joint pain cases can be treated conservatively with physiotherapy treatment and advice, however, your attitude and the actions you take are the most important factors in preventing long-term problems. The most effective way to manage symptoms of joint pain are to
- Consider what factors may be influencing your pain so you can attempt to address them all if possible.
- Avoid static positions for long periods of time and keep active. Low impact exercise such as yoga, pilates and swimming can be a good starting point. Exercise is also key in preventing further episodes of joint pain.
- Talk to your GP or pharmacist about what pain relief may be right for you. If your pain is controlled, you will be able to maintain more movement.
- Apply gentle heat to reduce muscle spasm and pain.
- Ensure you are following all manual handling techniques correctly at home and work – keep the load close to your waist, use your legs to lift, lower or push loads as these are the most powerful muscles in the body, and work within your capability.
- Report any symptoms you think may be work-related. Firstly, you may have a lawful duty to report your injury. Secondly, by informing your employers they are then able to make any necessary adjustments to your workplace or working practices, either temporarily for yourself on an individual basis, or permanently for the team to improve overall workplace wellbeing.
How can physiotherapy help?
At Physiotherapy Matters, our physiotherapists can conduct a thorough assessment to confirm a diagnosis and work with you to help you manage your symptoms and return to normal activity by
- Helping you understand your condition
- Helping identify the factors that may be have caused or be aggravating your symptoms and providing advice on how to minimise these, including manual handling guidance.
- Developing symptom management strategies so you always feel in control
- Completing ergonomic workplace assessments to minimise any work-related risk
- Providing an individualised exercise program to improve mobility and strength in order to address symptoms but also to prevent future episodes, including work-hardening
- Providing additional manual therapies that may help ease symptoms, such as
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