Jusdebbie, I also have very bad joint pain, which my rheumy and GI just say is Crohn's related arthritis and we are having a very hard time finding something to help that won't hurt my stomach. We tried other NSAIDs, steroids, Crohn's meds, etc. since the ultracet isn't taking care of it anymore, but nothing helps the joints and all of it hurts my stomach or gives me ulcers. I am scheduled right now to get cortisone shots in my ankles again, which helped for a little while last time.
I am going to ask my rheumy about Lidoderm patches because I tried some before and they seemed to help a lot, but they are just limited to whatever area you put them on. Still, I think that will be better than taking meds that make me sick.
As much as it hurts starting out, once I get through about 20 minutes of pilates, it seems like it helps loosen everything up. I was also an avid exerciser but have really had to cut back (almost completely) lately, which is killing me. Do what you can, but take it easy on your joints, and maybe that will loosen everything up without doing more harm.