Interventional pain management specialist Navid Farahmand, M.D., uses non-surgical techniques to treat joint pain.A variety of options exist depending on the cause, including injection techniques drawn from the growing field of regenerative medicine, use of lubricant products within the joint, and agents to reduce pain and inflammation. Dr. Farahmand serves the Beverly Hills, California, area.
A joint occurs anywhere in the body where two adjacent bones come together to allow for movement. Joints have a space between the bones that provides room for the movement and flexibility necessary to allow the joint to function properly. Some joints — like the joints or sutures in the skull — move very little. Others like the hip, wrist, knee and shoulder are very flexible and move in several directions. Each joint has a cushion or surface of cartilage that prevents wear on the bone and is supported by connective tissue which provides stability to the joint.
There are many causes of joint pain. Acute trauma of any kind, heavy lifting, and abnormal/awkward positioning can stress and injure the joint; over the course of decades the joint can wear out from use, generally referred to as osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease. Repetitive motion injury, which ― as it sounds ― results from the same movement over and over (think of a baseball pitcher who is constantly stressing the elbow and shoulder joints with multiple throws) can cause joint pain. Inflammatory problems like rheumatoid arthritis also result in painful joints.
Muscles, ligaments, and tendons are the supporting structures of the joint. Like all human tissue, they can be too tight around the joint. This can restrict range of motion and cause pain when over-stretched. These tissues can also tear (such as a rotator cuff tear or an ACL tear) which can make the patient feel like they have joint pain, even though the joint itself isn’t damaged. Conversely, the muscles and ligaments surrounding a joint can also be too loose, which exposes the joint to instability.
Treatments depend on the joint that is affected, the cause of the problem (injury vs. osteoarthritis vs. rheumatoid arthritis, for example) and whether the problem is acute or chronic. Acute problems that cause joint swelling and pain are often treated with RICE (rest, ice, compression bandages and elevation) and anti-inflammatory pain medications. Chronic pain in the hip, knee or shoulder joint might be treated with joint injections of a local anesthetic and steroids to numb the joint and reduce inflammation. In certain instances, specific components of the patient’s own blood can be isolated and re-injected into the damaged joint/tendon/ligament to relieve pain and promote healing, and is more commonly known as PRP (platelet rich plasma) therapy. Both PRP injections and use of stem cell injections are part of the growing field of regenerative medicine and have a number of indications and clinical applications.