What to do for joint pain?

Joint pain is usually accompanied by stiff joints. Joint pain can occur suddenly due to an injury, but often there is chronic joint pain that many older people suffer from. The joint causes the most complaints in the morning after getting up, but during the day it becomes more flexible and the complaints are usually less. What can you do to reduce stiffness and pain in the joint as much as possible and what remedies can you take for this?

Types of joint pain

Joint pain is usually accompanied by stiff joints. The joint may feel red and warm and is thickened. When it comes to sudden joint pain, it is usually due to an injury, such as a sprained ankle or twisted knee. This often occurs as a result of exercise. It can hurt, but it usually heals on its own with some rest.

Chronic joint pain

This often occurs in older people. The most common cause is osteoarthritis. In osteoarthritis, the cartilage in a joint is damaged by wear and tear, which can eventually cause it to disappear. Osteoarthritis can also be caused by excessive strain, for example by exercising too intensively. The older you get, the greater the chance of osteoarthritis. Almost everyone over the age of 75 has joint abnormalities, but not everyone suffers from them. Osteoarthritis is most common in joints that are subject to the greatest strain, such as the hips and knees. The complaints are most severe in the morning, when the joints are stiff and it decreases after you have moved for a while.


Rheumatism often starts with pain and stiffness in the hands and wrists. There is inflammation in the joint where the affected area may be swollen and red. Here too, there is morning stiffness in the morning. It is more serious than osteoarthritis and is also called rheumatoid arthritis.


Gout is the result of the formation of uric acid crystals in the joint. It causes severe pain that usually starts in the big toe. It can also occur elsewhere in the body, such as a knee or wrist. The joint becomes smoke, thick and warm due to the inflammation, just like with rheumatism. It occurs slightly more often in men than in women. Men who eat a lot of protein-rich foods such as red meat and drink alcohol regularly are more at risk of developing gout.

What you can do yourself

Pain and stiffness of the joints can be reduced by both rest and exercise, depending on the stage of the complaint. In case of inflammation where the joint is swollen, painful and red, it is better to elevate it and cool it with, for example, a cold pack. Never apply ice or a cold pack directly to the skin, but wrap it in a cloth to prevent frostbite of the skin. As soon as the acute inflammation subsides, you should gradually increase the movement of the joint. This prevents stiffness and can reduce pain in the long run. First you need to cool down, then a hot water bottle or bath can also reduce the complaints somewhat. With chronic joint complaints such as osteoarthritis, it is important that you try to keep moving. If you don’t move at all, the joints will only become stiffer. If you suffer from gout, you should avoid alcohol and protein-rich meals.

The resources you can use

The first choice painkiller for joint pain is paracetamol. It combines a good effect and has few side effects. If the pain is very severe, take two paracetamol tablets every five hours, with a maximum of 6 to 8 tablets per day. If the pain is suppressed insufficiently or for too short a time, for example if you are unable to sleep through the night, an anti-inflammatory painkiller (NSAID) may be used, such as ibuprofen or naproxen. The disadvantage is that NSAIDs can cause stomach upset as a side effect. That’s why you shouldn’t use them for too long in a row. NSAIDs are also available in gel and cream form. Although there are doubts whether these rubbing agents are sufficiently effective, they do have fewer side effects.

Alternative means

Since joint complaints are often chronic in nature and regular medicines only provide some symptom relief, many people are looking for alternative treatments. There are many products available within this market. Commonly used alternative remedies for joint pain are glucosamine in chondroitin . These substances also contribute to the cartilage and lubricating fluid present in the joints. However, it is doubtful whether extra glucosamine and chondroitin actually end up in the joints. However, some people may benefit from it.
There are indications that devil’s claw can reduce pain in osteoarthritis. But there are still too few results to say anything about the precise effect. Other alternative remedies for joint pain include willow bark ( white willow or Salix alba ) or woodsweet ( Filipendula ulmaria ). Willow bark and meadowsweet contain the substance salicin . This substance is converted into salicylic acid , from which acetylsalicylic acid (better known as aspirin ) is derived. Salicin and salicylic acid do indeed have analgesic effects in high doses. However, this can lead to stomach complaints. In that case, use of this is not recommended.


The use of extra lime (calcium) is only useful if you do not consume enough calcium through your diet, for example if you consume little or no dairy products. Lime does not help against joint complaints, but it does help against bone decalcification. Women after menopause in particular need extra calcium. They are more at risk of developing bone loss ( osteoporosis ).

Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids, which are present in food supplement fish oil, among other things, are an important part of a healthy diet. If you eat a varied diet and eat oily fish (salmon, mackerel) at least once a week, you will get enough of it. If this is not the case, extra fish oil may be useful to prevent cardiovascular disease. It has never been proven that omega-3 fatty acids are useful for joint complaints.

To the doctor

If you take enough rest and keep the joint moving without overloading it, the joint complaints will go away on their own. If it still persists after 6 weeks, or if a joint is inflamed (swollen, red, warm and painful), contact your doctor. It is also wise to visit your doctor if you not only have joint pain, but also feel seriously ill or have a fever for more than 3 days.

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