6 ways to stop your knee, wrist and ankle joints from aching

Experts reveal top tips for keeping them well-oiled.

Joint problems may be an indication of underlying health problems too, like rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases, so any unusual pains, loss of movement and inflamed - hot and red - joints should be checked out by a doctor.

[Read more: Lower back pain exercises and 7 more tips]

Cause for concern

"We are seeing increasing numbers of younger adults presenting with joint troubles. What is more worrying, is that it appears younger people are coming to seek physiotherapy treatment for arthritic joints," says physiotherapist Tim Allardyce.

"Two of the most common conditions are degenerative disc disease [DDD], typically a condition you might see in your 60s, but now particularly common in your mid-20s. DDD is a degeneration of the discs in the spine - the cushion that sits between the vertebrae - and a common cause of back pain.

"We're also seeing a lot more people coming with shoulder problems, mostly due to poor posture, and the increasing use of computers, laptops, smart phones and tablets is playing a significant role in this.

"Some of these problems are simply joints aching due to being in a poor postural position, or getting stiff. Other times it's due to degenerative changes in the joint that can cause a whole host of issues, like excess bony growth, cartilage damage and tendon tears.

"For these people, a lot can be done to protect their joints, such as maintaining a nutritious, healthy diet, regular exercise that's not too high impact, avoiding sitting all day, and maintaining good posture."

Don’t ignore the niggles

Though not always the case, joint problems can often get worse if not treated properly - and quickly - so don't ignore those troublesome niggles that won't go away and wait until you're in constant agony or can no longer move properly to ask for help.

"Seek advice straight away," says Allardyce. "Go to see your GP, or your local physiotherapist or osteopath and get your symptoms checked. In many cases, just a simple workplace adjustment or a few exercises can cure the problem. But sometimes, treatment is needed to correct dysfunction [injury] in the body.

"It's also important to rehabilitate following injury. Many people suffer pain or an injury, but forget or are not aware of the importance of rehabilitation."

[Read more: Reduced joint pain and 6 other reasons to get back on a bike]

Rehabilitation is vital

"After injury, the body has a weakness. It might be a muscle tear, a ligament sprain or a joint injury, but that injured part will be weaker than it was previously. Rehab allows the injured body part to become stronger than what it was, to prevent further re-occurrences or further injury.

"Don't ignore niggles. Pain is telling you something. Your body is telling you 'something is not right'. Listen to your body, get medical advice. If you ignore it, you might be lucky and the problem goes away, or you might end up with a serious injury or chronic pain."

Don’t skip warm-ups

Exercise is vital for keeping the whole body, including joints, healthy - but exercising sensibly is vital too.

"Warming-up is incredibly important," says Allardyce. "It simply involves increasing blood flow to muscles and joints, and generating heat into these areas. It allows joints to move more freely, and muscles to stretch more easily - this makes injury far less likely."

Cure or cope?

Not all joint problems can be cured, Allardyce points out, like arthritis.

"Once damage has been done to a joint, this damage may be irreversible. However, there is still a lot that can be done to help the area, for example, by reducing load on the joint," he says.

"This can be done by improving biomechanics of the joint and the other joints around it. Stretching muscles next to the joint and improving posture can also significantly improve typically incurable conditions.

“I have treated around a dozen women with arthritic hips who were told they needed surgery, and with the right management and exercises, and a course of physiotherapy, can self-manage their hip condition for years before needing a hip replacement."

[Read more: 7 ways to avoid joint pain when gardening]

Joint-friendly fuel

What we put into our bodies plays a role with joint health too. A balanced diet, with plenty of vitamins, minerals, iron, protein and calcium, helps keep bones and soft tissues in good knick.

"Omega-3 fatty acids are particularly important for joint health, as they have anti-inflammatory properties," says top nutritionist Dr Emma Derbyshire. "Unfortunately, we don't always get enough from out diets, as oily fish is one of the main dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which we under-consume."

Hydration is also important, as it contributes to keeping joints lubricated, as well as supporting muscle function - which in turn, support the joints - and helps maintain good circulation.

With joints, prevention and maintenance is better than cure, but research suggests that some people experiencing sore, inflamed joints may benefit from increasing their omega-3 intake.

Supplements containing "omega-3, and hyaluronic acid which has antioxidant properties and is major component of synovial fluid, cartilage, tendons and ligaments, ultimately helping to cushion joints", notes Derbyshire, may also help in certain cases.

More from BT