Experiencing Joint Pain as an Athlete? Here's What You Should Do

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Physical pain of any kind affects a person’s daily routine and health. While some people can tolerate the pain, others may recognize and experience it as an unbearable nightmare that interferes with their ability to perform daily tasks. For athletes, especially, managing pain becomes difficult as it can hinder their athletic performance.

Athletes typically believe in the phrase "no pain, no gain" and consider pain an indispensable part of progress. Such athletes frequently face the thrill of pushing through the pain on purpose, and their success is often measured by how they overcome the pain. Pain tolerance, on the other hand, varies from one individual to another. Even though some people can still perform and stay competitive while suffering from pain, the effects of pain can be observed in their performance.

Joint pain, for one, remains a common cause of poor athletic performance among athletes. If you are an athlete, joint pain in the knees, ankles, and shoulders may sound all too common to you. However, these "common" pains in the joints can often result in a devastating chronic condition called osteoarthritis. Let us briefly understand joint pain and what you can do to relieve it.


Understanding joint pain

Our joints are the parts of our bodies where the bones meet; these joints allow the bones to move. Joints include wrists, elbows, shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles. Joint pain refers to discomfort in these parts and can be recognised by symptoms like stiffness, aches, and soreness in these areas. Often, individuals who experience joint pain have:

  • repeatedly overused a muscle
  • have injured their joints before
  • suffer from stress or depression
  • have arthritis
  • have other medical conditions 

Causes of joint pain

Joint pain can be a result of several different factors, including age. Let’s take a look at a few reasons why you may experience joint pain. 

  • Lupus
  • Gout
  • Injury or infection in the joint
  • Arthritis
  • Inflammation of the tendon
  • Overuse of the joint
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cancer
  • Osteoporosis
  • Inflammation of cushioning pads around the joints

Arthritis, however, remains one of the most common causes of athletes’ pain in the joints. This is due to the overuse of joints. Many sports activities place significant strain on a single or more joints. For example, a throwing athlete may often have to look for shoulder pain treatment for his shoulder injury, or knee pain in young athletes may have severe impacts on their running performance. Over time, this can end up causing the cartilage to wear down, contributing to joint discomfort and loss of movement. 

Osteoarthritis and athletes

When talking about joint pain and arthritis in athletes, we generally talk about osteoarthritis, a chronic condition that involves breaking down or wearing away the cartilage. Cartilage acts as a cushion at the end points of joints, which allows them to move more flexibly. If the cartilage wears away, it can no longer adequately reduce the friction in the joint, causing one bone to rub against another when you move the joint. This can sometimes cause damage to the joint itself.

Knee pain in young athletes, ankle swelling with pain, or even nerve pain in the wrist can be common signs of osteoarthritis. The stiffness, as well as pain that come with osteoarthritis, could perhaps prevent an athlete from participating in sports, and a lack of activity can play a role in the worsening of the condition, resulting in a cycle where the osteoarthritis is consistently problematic. Accidental injuries from a fall or collision, as well as joint damage from overuse and repeated stress, can all significantly increase your risk of developing arthritis. While arthritis appears to be more common in older adults, sports injuries such as wrist nerve pain or knee pain in young athletes can increase your risk of early-onset arthritis. 


Common signs and symptoms of athletes’ pain caused by osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis most commonly affects weight-bearing joints, with the knee being the most likely to cause problems for athletes and people who participate in high-impact workouts. The following are the most commonly seen osteoarthritis signs and symptoms:

  1. Joint pain following overuse or inactivity
  2. Joint stiffness improves when you resume physical activity after some period of inactivity.
  3. Morning joint stiffness that lasts only a few minutes
  4. Ligament injuries
  5. Athletes with high body mass indices 

Treatment for athletes’ pain in the joints

With symptoms like these, finding the appropriate athlete pain relief techniques is necessary to ease the pain. Whether you are a runner with ankle swelling and pain, or a throwing athlete looking for shoulder pain treatment or ways to treat wrist nerve pain, we advise you to consult a doctor as soon as you start experiencing the symptoms of joint pain.

  1.  Bracing to treat knee pain in young athletes

    Bracing has also proven to be an effective option for treating osteoarthritis in the joints non-surgically. The prime objective of bracing in osteoarthritis is to influence changes in joint alignment as well as biomechanical forces. It is impactful because osteoarthritic malalignment is connected with radiographic joint space loss as well as functional degradation. The efficiency of braces for stability has indeed been widely investigated, and they are extensively used in athletics. Bracing aids in the treatment of pain and misalignment in athletes and may shorten the time required to return to sports. 

    When it comes to picking the right knee brace for young athletes, you must go for something that provides good support and alleviates pain caused due to various reasons. Hansaplast’s Sports Knee Brace is meant to provide compression and support to alleviate pain caused by sprains, overuse symptoms, chronic knee instability, joint pain, and osteoarthritis. 

  2. Medications

    When you finally decide to visit the doctor, he may first suggest you treat joint pain with anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving medications.


    Using injections to treat joint pain can help reduce inflammation and relieve pain. Consult with your doctor to determine the correct course of action.

    Oral Medications

    Your doctor will prescribe you medications depending on the underlying cause of your athletes’ pain. 


    Your doctor might prescribe topical medication for pain relief. You may even look for over-the-counter creams, gels, and pain relief patches that comprise the following ingredients: 

    - Lidocaine
    - Menthol
    - Salicylate
    - Capsaicin

    When it comes to joint pains, one of the most common ways to heal it is using a capsicum heat plaster. Such plasters use capsaicin extracts to create warmth surrounding the aching joint in an Ayurvedic manner. The heat from such pain relief patches can help relieve symptoms of arthritis, fibrositis, as well as lumbago. 

    The Hansaplast Lion Plaster is specifically designed for such pains. The heat created helps to gently relieve the pain. 

  3. Lifestyle Changes

    Other than these treatment techniques, you must also consume foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants, as well as indulge in physical activities such as swimming and walking, as they will help you relieve pain and improve your mood too. Of course, this part only comes after the resting part of your healing process.

Can athletes still perform with joint injuries or do they need a break from sports?

Continuing to play even after a joint injury can potentially worsen the injury and delay the healing process and recovery. Recovery also has a lot to do with the psychological well-being of the athlete at that point in time. 

If the athlete is low on resilience and psychological hardiness, there is a greater possibility of osteoarthritis and poor joint health later in life. 

It is best to take the advice of a coach and a medical expert to help you understand whether you should continue playing or take a break from sports depending on various factors. 

Athletes are known for their resilience to pain, standing strong in the face of adversity and overcoming obstacles. However, when it comes to joint injuries like the knee, shoulder, wrist and ankle, it is always advisable to take proper care as a miss and hit can lead to lifelong joint problems. 



Please note that the above recommendations are general care tips. Consult a healthcare professional in case of any uncertainty around wound treatment and healing.

Always see your doctor if a wound is deep, bleeding profusely or showing signs of infection. For diabetic patients especially, proper wound care holds the utmost importance. Do not hesitate to discuss any concerns you may have with your doctor or your podiatrist, even when it comes to minor wounds and cuts – especially if they’re on your feet.
The information provided through this website should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Although compiled with great care, it is not a substitute for professional advice. If you have or suspect a health problem, consult your doctor immediately. 

For further information regarding Hansaplast products, please contact us via email at customer.care@bdfindia.com