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Joint and body pains: Coping with them during the pandemic

By Medical Expert Team

Aug 26 , 2021 | 6 min read

How old are you is a question most doctors would ask you after you introduce yourself. This is relevant, as certain diseases tend to occur more frequently in certain age groups. So how do you cope with joint pains during these testing times when even stepping out of the house can send chills down your spine? I hope this article sheds some light on this.

Firstly it is important to distinguish between body and joint pains. Body pains generally refer to pain in the bones and muscles. Joints are parts of your body where two bones meet and allow movement like your wrist, knee, hip etc. Pain specifically at these locations refers to joint pains.

Generalized body pain may be due to a myriad of diseases but most commonly occur due to A) Vitamin D Deficiency B) Thyroid diseases C) Osteoporosis or weak bones D) The flu (the less said the better) as most of us hear enough about it in the media.

 

A)Vitamin D : It is a very special vitamin whose richest source is the sunlight. Since the advent of cars, increasing prosperity in our society and lifestyle changes we seldom go out in the sunlight.  Hence believe it or not over 90 % of our population is vitamin D deficient! However prevention is better than cure so spend at least 20 minutes in the company of our closest star the sun especially between 6-8 am and 4-6 pm when the rays are at an angle that facilitates Vitamin D absorption in the skin. If you are deficient that has been proven by a blood test, the only way forward is taking Vit D supplements once a week for 12 weeks in those that have moderate to mild deficiency and those with severe deficiency may need an injection of Vit D.

Remedy: 20 minutes in the sunlight anytime between 6-8am and 4-6 pm

Eating a balanced diet containing eggs, liver, salmon and some fortified foods like cereals etc.

B) Thyroid disease: The thyroid is an organ that regulates the functioning of the body and any disease affecting it can manifest itself as just a body aches, weight fluctuations to mood swings. Thyroid is an important hormone to maintain calcium levels in the body. If you are a known case of thyroid on treatment, have body pains and feel dull, this could mean that your thyroid levels are fluctuating. Do have an online consult with your physician who may ask you to get a thyroid blood test done and adjust your medications.

Remedy: Exercise regularly; eat a balanced diet with adequate roughage and foods fortified with calcium like guavas. Have a virtual consult with your physician to confirm the diagnosis and start relevant medications.

C) Osteoporosis: This refers to weak bones. More often than not it affects women who are peri or post menopausal typically after the age of 45. For those in the pre menopausal age group doing exercises regularly which are a combination of cardio based exercises like walking, exercise cycle or the cross trainer and resistance based exercises like lifting weights or using a resistance band. Eating a balanced diet that is a combination of proteins (lentils or lean meat), Carbohydrates like brown rice, bread and minimal fats help in building stores of calcium in the bone for the future. If you are post menopausal, these remedies help but being sure you are osteoporotic via a Dexa scan helps so that appropriate medications can be started for the same.

Cramps happen quite often and the most common cause is a loss of potassium and salts in our body. Bananais a great source of potassium and helps in preventing cramps. Salty Lime juice is another good source of sodium that helps preventing cramps.

Joint pains can be classified into those occurring in the age group of <30, 30-50 and >50yrs.

<30: Are you non- vegetarian? A high uric acid could be a cause. We commonly call this gout. Prevention is the best remedy. Red meat is a common culprit and restricting its use in your diet is imperative. Alcohol is a common culprit too and reducing your intake is the key to be painfree.

Remedy: Foods like yoghurt, skimmed milk, fish, potatoes, rice, bread and pasta have less potential in increasing the uric acid in the body. Following a diet consisting of these foods and avoiding those foods that increase uric acid is the key to reducing its level in the body. If you do have a high uric acid that is evident in a blood report, medication may need to be started by your doctor.

Other less common causes can be inflammatory arthritis. Arthritis refers to swelling or inflammation of the joints. These can occur at any age group but are more common between the ages of 30-50yrs.

30-50: Here one should consider inflammatory arthritis as a potential cause as they tend to affect people in this age group more than the younger folk. They can be of various types with Rheumatoid arthritis being the most common and popular one. This occurs more often in women and is characterized by severe pain and stiffness in the finger joints that last for over an hour in the morning and get better as the days passes. Usually joints on both sides of the body are affected together, this is also called symmetric arthritis. Consult a physician/ immunologist to be sure and if you have it, nothing to be scared of it can be well managed through medication.  However other types of arthritis and a high uric acid should also be ruled out.

Remedy: Making sure your joints move everyday is important to prevent any sort of stiffness. Opening and closing your fist 10 times, rotating your shoulder through 360 degrees 10 times, bending and straightening your knees throughout their range of motion ten times , trying to touch your toes without bending your knee at least once a day is a good routine to follow. A balanced diet always helps along with exercises.

>50 yrs: More often than not these pains are age related. This may be the beginning of osteoarthritis, which effectively refers to aging of joints. Here the bone surfaces in contact with each other become rough due the erosion of cartilage that keeps them smooth. This causes friction and pain in the joints. Remedy: There is no escaping this but the aim is to slow down and help the body cope with the aging joints by strengthening the compensatory mechanisms. For example when the knee is affected, strengthening the thigh muscles goes a long way in helping cope with the condition. Walking for at least 30 minutes, using the exercises cycle and cross trainer help. Avoid the treadmill as it has a definite speed and slowing it down takes sometime which could be detrimental when in pain. Keeping a rolled towel under the knee and pressing the knee downwards towards the bed by tightening the kneecap helps build the quadriceps or thigh muscles. Warm fermentation via an electric heat pad or hot water bottle helps reduce the pain.

The most important aspect of managing bone and joint pains is “Listen to your body”. It talks to you when it is upset via pain. Being receptive to it and not pushing it further helps keep the pain under control till help can arrive through the doctor and medications.

Keeping any pain relief jelly, a painkiller like Paracetamol handy is important to help tide over acute painful situations. Whenever pains are severe, immobilising that part of the body temporarily helps. Using aids such as a walker or crutches till help arrives via doctors consultation helps.

The last and final remedy for any pain is emotional well-being. This pandemic has taken its toll on all of us, be it physical or emotional. Keeping yourself happy by spending time with the family and doing things that you like will definitely bring light to the end of this tunnel. So be happy and keep everyone around you happy and positive.


Written and Verified by:

Medical Expert Team

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