I'm 26 as well (turning 26 on Friday
). Not as advanced as you are, I just have fucked up back (construction work), misplaced knee cup (skiing), separated shoulder (car accident) on one side and slightly fucked up muscles/whatever on the other side (bike), broken wrist (fell on the ground from some height). All this isn't really a big deal, most of them are old. But sometimes, esp in the bad weather, they all hurt and annoy the hell out of me.
What I found for myself is that pain killers and the likes is not a very good idea in the long run. Yeah, you'll feel better today, but you'll fuck up your digestive system and get a bunch of other side effects.
So I figure, for bad joints and old injuries and all it makes sense to give it some long-term care. Yoga couple of times per week (I like Bikram but many other styles are known to work well, too) + sauna at least once a week can go a long way.
The only period ot time in the last few years when I did not remember about my back, knee etc was this spring, when I did Bikram yoga several days a week. It was difficult in the beginning, but then I realized I didn't pay attention to my back anymore and all the other problem parts. Alas, I was stupid enough to stop doing it and now starting again.