April 30, 2020
Clinical Contributors to this Story
Michael Kelly, M.D. contributes to topics such as Orthopedic Surgery.
Suffering from joint pain is never easy, especially during these uncertain times. COVID-19 may have postponed your joint replacement surgery or physical therapy sessions, but there are still ways to help alleviate your pain. Many health care providers have implemented telemedicine services, so you can stay connected with your care team and discuss ways to manage your pain while awaiting surgery or in-person therapy.
Here is what you need to know about relieving your joint pain at home.
Non-surgical ways to relieve your pain
Ice, Heat and Rest: Apply ice to your joints to relieve pain and swelling. Ice the joint for 15 minutes several times a day. After a day or so, try a heating pad to address any muscle spasms around the joint. Rest the joint when needed and avoid activities that cause you pain as much as possible.
Physical therapy: Patients suffering from joint pain can benefit greatly from physical therapy. Though in-person appointments may not be an option right now, many physical therapists are offering telemedicine visits or home workout plans that provide a wide variety of ways to ease the pain, strengthen and stabilize the joint, and improve range of motion. Contact your physical therapist to see what options they provide.
Stay active: “It is important to keep your mobility and muscle strength,” said Michael Kelly, M.D., medical director of Orthopedics at Hackensack Meridian Health. “Choose a low- or moderate-impact exercise. Since access to pools and gyms aren’t an option right now, simply walking or doing exercises around the house can help you stay active.”
Over-the-Counter medication: Typically, it is safe to treat your pain with non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), such as Aleve or Tylenol. Always be sure to check with your doctor first before starting any new medications.
Prescription medications: “When over-the-counter medications don’t relieve the pain, your orthopedist can prescribe something stronger,” says Dr. Kelly. “Offices are still taking calls or scheduling telemedicine visits, so be sure to talk with your doctor to determine the best option.”
Diet and vitamins
Supplements: Supplements, such as glucosamine and chondroitin, have been shown to reduce arthritic joint pain. “We need more studies to understand the true effectiveness of these supplements,” says Dr. Kelly, “but some patients say their pain improved after taking them. Also, if taken properly, they pose little harm to your health.”
Losing weight: Joint pain is common in people who are overweight, so losing weight could help relieve some of the pressure on your joints. Daily home exercises to lose weight and proper diet are key but be sure to work out without stressing your joints too much. Unsure where to start? Call your orthopedic office about a conditioning program and check out how to prevent over eating while working at home.
Stay in contact
It is important to stay in contact with your orthopedic office, especially if you were scheduled for surgery or a procedure prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. “We are here to help,” says Dr. Kelly. “Physicians will work with you to recommend the best pain management option currently available, and some necessary treatments are still offered in the office setting, with special safety measures in place. Additionally, keeping in contact is important so the office can update you on the status of your procedure or surgery when business returns to normal.”
Next Steps & Resources:
- Learn more about Michael Kelly.
- Get more health tips related to COVID-19.
- View patient education materials from the American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons.
The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.