No matter if you are younger or older, you might have experienced joint pain before. It can be caused by a variety of factors, many of which we will discuss in this post. So, if you are looking to get informed about hip joint pain causes, knee joint pain causes, or even finger joint pain causes, keep on reading.
What Causes Joint Pain?
There are many causes of joint pain, and they can be acute or chronic. It appears that around one third of all adults experience joint pain at one point in their life. Chronic joint pain can be debilitating and it most commonly shows up in your shoulders, your hip or your knee.
However, that doesn’t mean that joint pain can’t affect any other part of your body. You can experience it in your hands, neck, or even in the sacroiliac area of your back.
Here are some of the most common causes of joint pain and stiffness.
- Infections in the bones or joints
- Overuse of a particular joint
- Tendinitis in one or more tendons around the joint
In the following sections, we will discuss some of the most important chronic joint pain causes and give you some general advice on the treatment of this health problem.
Chronic joint pain commonly develops in your shoulders, hip, or knee.
Arthritis is one of the most common causes of joint pain. To date, there are two main forms that people can suffer from, and they are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis, also known as OA, is the more common form experienced by adults over the age of 40. Like its rheumatoid counterpart, it is chronic and it is developed over time. It leads to pain and stiffness, but also other symptoms.
In most cases, osteoarthritis is developed as a result of a past injury, whether that is a torn cartilage, a ligament injury, or a dislocated joint. Other factors that contribute to it range from joint malformation, poor posture, as well as obesity.
Family history and gender influence the development of arthritis in adults. Females are known to develop OA at a higher rate compared to males, especially if they are older than 45.
Certain occupations that involve repetitive actions that put a lot of stress on a person’s joints can increase the risk of OA development. These activities range from frequently climbing stairs, lifting, kneeling, or walking. Sports professionals or people who participate in joint-intensive sports are at a higher risk, too.
There are some diseases that are known to contribute to the development of osteoarthritis, such as diabetes, gout, an underactive thyroid, or osteonecrosis.
Frequent, and excessive, climbing of stairs, lifting, kneeling, or walking can increase the risk of OA.
Unlike osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. The damage on the person’s joints happens on both sides of the body, in this case, and it affects more joints than osteoarthritis would.
Since it is a chronic condition, rheumatoid arthritis needs to be discovered in its early stages for the treatment to be effective. Even though it involves the degeneration of the joints, the process can be slowed down so that the patient still leads a normal life.
An individual affected by rheumatoid arthritis will experience joint pain, swelling, stiffness, and in some cases, even deformities. Some of the clinical signs can be quite severe, which is why treatment with medication might be necessary.
However, there are alternative or home remedies available, too, and you can also make certain dietary changes that can improve the condition. There are some types of exercise that can achieve the same goal, such as yoga, Tai Chi, water aerobics, and stretching.
In terms of pharmaceutical medication, your doctor can prescribe a variety of drugs that can help with the pain. Some of the most commonly utilized ones are NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), acetaminophen, and corticosteroids.
You can also opt to taking medication aside from alternative remedies, but consider all the side effects.
This is a condition that consists of loss of muscle mass due to RA. Around two thirds of the people who have rheumatoid arthritis experience muscle wasting. It can lead to serious complications, and it can even cause heart disease. Moreover, people with rheumatoid cachexia tend to live less.
Individuals who have this condition experience less hand and thigh strength. Additionally, they might have a hard time having a normal life and tending to regular tasks.
Muscle wasting can be caused by obesity and a lack of exercise. Unfortunately, most people who experience rheumatoid arthritis find it painful to exercise, which is why they will refrain from doing it. This, in turn, leads to rheumatoid cachexia.
There is no specific treatment for this condition. Patients have to perform resistance exercise as it can prevent it, and doing some dietary changes might be effective in this, too.
While resistance training is recommended for people with rheumatoid arthritis, you can try stretching, yoga, or pilates if you don’t think you could handle other forms of exercise. When it comes to diet changes, consuming fish oil might have some benefits, but you should also try to avoid become overweight or obese.
The same drugs used for treating rheumatoid arthritis are used in this case, too, and they typically consist of a number of anti-inflammatory medications for the pain and swelling
Gout is a medical condition characterized by the buildup of uric acid into one’s body. While the disease can lead to uric acid deposits in other organs, these are most commonly encountered in the patient’s feet or joints, in general.
Many people experience asymptomatic gout, meaning that they don’t have any pain or discomfort while using their joints. However, it can progress into the symptomatic form, and the clinical signs in this case range from pain and swelling to the development of hard lumps in the joints.
Gout is more commonly diagnosed in postmenopausal women and middle-aged men. If you eat too much red meat, organs, or some types of fish, you are at a higher risk of developing this condition. Some people develop it if they regularly consume alcohol or take diuretics.
A variety of other health problems can lead to the development of gout, too. Here are several examples.
- Kidney disease
- Thyroid disease
- High blood pressure
Since it is also a painful condition, gout requires medicated treatment, which can involve the previously mentioned NSAIDs or corticosteroids or various drugs that are capable of preventing gout attacks.
Most people who suffer from gout receive advice from their physicians and they have to lose weight and reduce their alcohol intake, and also eat less high-protein meals.
Some of the more severe cases can call for surgery, in which case the uric acid deposits (also known as tophi) can be removed through an operation.
If the joint has been significantly damaged to the point that it restricts movement or affects a person’s life on the whole, it might need to be surgically replaced.
If you know that some of your family members have gout, you might want to prevent it by keeping your weight in check, eating a low-fat, low-protein diet, exercising regularly, and staying well-hydrated.
Gout is most commonly seen in the patient’s feet or joints.
Almost everyone has heard about osteoporosis. While it is a disease that more commonly affects older females, it can show up in people of any age. To date, it is estimated that more than 50 million adults in the United States alone suffer from osteoporosis.
The reason osteoporosis causes not just bone pain, but also joint pain is that the structure of the bone becomes different. When any bone isn’t as hard or resistant as it used to be, it is at a higher risk of fractures, and all fractures affect the joint and surrounding tissues, too.
What causes osteoporosis? It appears that some medical conditions, such as hyperthyroidism, can be at the root of this health problem. It can also be developed as a result of long-term corticosteroid treatments, such as with cortisone or prednisone.
As for the risk factors of this disease, they range from menopause and poor nutrition to physical inactivity and smoking. Exercising regularly can prevent the development of osteoporosis, but that doesn’t mean that you should necessarily over-exert yourself.
This medical condition is usually diagnosed with the help of a bone density test. Unfortunately, osteoporosis is very hard, if not impossible, to treat. Your physician can prescribe certain medications for the pain, and you will have to make some lifestyle changes, too.
In some situations, even if you increase your intake of calcium and vitamin D and exercise more, you might still not be able to do enough to get your bones in the condition they used to be.
However, the treatment is geared toward slowing down the breakdown of the bone tissue, so you will at least prevent a more severe form of osteoporosis. Pharmaceutically, your doctor could prescribe a number of drugs that prevent the loss of bone mass, as well as others for managing pain.
Regular exercise can help prevent the development of osteoporosis.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic medical condition that causes fatigue, tenderness in some areas of the body, and pain in the muscles and bones. You might experience pain in your chest, your back, or one or both of your legs.
It can be caused by a variety of factors such as your family history, trauma, stress, or a past infection. For example, flu and pneumonia, as well as some GI infections can lead to the development of fibromyalgia.
Like osteoporosis, this medical condition is more commonly diagnosed in women, but the risk of developing it gets higher as one ages. Because there is no cure for the disease, the treatment concentrates on reducing the pain and improving the patient’s quality of life.
Medications, lifestyle changes, as well as self-care programs can help a person feel better and lead a normal life even if they suffer from fibromyalgia.
In terms of the medication commonly prescribed for it, your doctor can recommend pain relievers, antidepressants, or even natural remedies such as acupuncture, physical therapy, and yoga. Massage therapy is helpful, in this case, too.
Massage therapy is helpful aside from natural remedies and prescription medicines.
Infectious Diseases That Lead to Joint Pain
Besides the causes that we have already discussed, there are some infectious diseases that can cause joint pain, too. For example, if you have a systemic Staphylococcus aureus or Streptococcus spp infection, you might end up with sensitivity or pain in your joints.
Other bacterial diseases that can lead to joint pain are caused by Borrelia burgdorferi (which causes Lyme disease), Mycobacterium tuberculosis (which causes tuberculosis), or Neisseria gonorrhoeae (which causes gonorrhea).
Bacterial joint inflammation seems to be more common in people who have sustained joint surgery or trauma, those who have gout or lupus, or those that receive injections in their joints for pain management purposes.
Other factors range from having unprotected sex (since it can lead to gonorrhea), smoking, or any bacterial infections, whether they affect the respiratory system or the urinary system.
People who have bacterial joint inflammation often experience pain in their joints, a lack of appetite, elevated body temperature, as well as swelling and redness in some areas of their body.
This health problem can be treated with antibiotics or with other, more drastic measures, such as draining the fluid that has accumulated around the affected joint. Anti-inflammatory medications are capable of reducing the discomfort or swelling that the patient might experience.
Bacterial joint inflammation can be treated with anti-inflammatory medications too.
Joint Pain – General Treatment and Prognosis
As you might have noticed, the causes of joint pain are many and very diverse. That is why treating joint pain can only be done effectively if you also have a clear diagnosis.
Diagnosing joint pain can be done with X-rays or a variety of other imaging diagnostic methods or blood tests (particularly helpful for diagnosing early stages of gout). In some cases, the doctor might have to draw some of the fluid that might have accumulated in the joint so as to perform microbiology tests, too.
In the end, it’s important to note that joint pain isn’t necessarily a result of an infectious disease or a more severe medical condition. It can merely be the result of wear and tear, which happens naturally as we age.
It can be difficult to say just what prognosis you are going to get from your doctor if you don’t know the exact cause of your joint pain. However, going to the doctor as early as possible in all of the conditions and initiating treatment before a more severe form is developed is the best way of going about things.
Finally, the solution might not just be in one factor, be it drugs, diagnosis, treatments, etc, but a combination of them. Habits, such as diet and regular exercise normally have the greatest positive impact in the long term for joint pain.
What changes have you made in your life that had the most positive impact in easing your joint pain condition? Please let us know in the comments, you will most likely be helping someone who is suffering and looking for a solution!
Co-founder of MB Zen, digital nomad and yogini. Trying to beat down stress and achieve peace of mind through the daily practice of Yoga. After a while in yoga, I embraced it wholy, and it changed my lifestyle upside down. Now I want to give back , helping others on their journey.