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Joint pain and swelling treatments

Joint pain can usually be helped by the PRICE method:

  • Protect the joint area from further damage or harm
  • Rest the joint – avoid activities that cause pain
  • Ice the joint for 20 minutes every two to three hours – make sure the ice is wrapped up so it doesn’t touch your skin
  • Compress the joint with a bandage which is firm, but not tight
  • Elevate the joint above the level of the heart to reduce swelling

Medication such as paracetamol or ibuprofen may help.

You can help by maintaining a healthy weight, stretching muscles before and after physical exercise and ensuring that your technique during sport is correct.

Anyone who experiences pain and swelling in one or more joints should discuss this with their doctor. If you have chronic joint pain and swelling, your doctor will be able to assess your situation. You may need x-rays, blood tests and perhaps other scans. In some cases, the doctor may want to look inside the joint with an arthroscope.

Your doctor will provide a plan of treatment, including exercise and appropriate medicines. The best types of exercises are gentle to your joints – they include swimming, aqua aerobics, tai chi, cycling or walking.

You might consider using a TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) machine to reduce joint pain.

Not sure what to do next?

If you are still concerned about your joint pain and swelling, check your symptoms with healthdirect’s online Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.

The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).



Last reviewed: July 2015

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