Joint pain can be caused by injury affecting any of the ligaments, bursae, or tendons surrounding the joint. Injury can also affect the ligaments, cartilage, and bones within the joint. Pain is also a feature of joint inflammation (arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis) and infection, and extremely rarely it can be a cause of cancer of the joint. Pain within the joint is a common cause of shoulder pain, ankle pain, and knee pain. Joint pain is also referred to as arthralgia. The sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) chlamydia and gonorrhea can lead to joint pain.
Symptoms and signs associated with joint pain can include
- joint redness,
- joint swelling,
- joint tenderness,
- joint warmth,
- locking of the joint,
- loss of range of motion of the joint,
Other causes of joint pain
- Bone Tumor (Rare)
- Cartilage Tear
- Synovial Sarcoma (Rare)
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Causes of Joint Pain
16 Early Signs and Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
Early RA symptoms and signs vary differently from person to person. The most common body parts that are initially affected by RA include the small joints of the hands, wrists, and feet, and the knees and hip joints. Joint inflammation causes stiffness. Warmth, redness, and pain may vary in degree.
Ankle Pain (Tendinitis)
Ankle pain is commonly due to a sprain or tendinitis. The severity of ankle sprains ranges from mild (which can resolve within 24 hours) to severe (which can require surgical repair). Tendinitis of the ankle can be caused by trauma or inflammation.
Arthritis (Joint Inflammation)
Arthritis is inflammation of one or more joints. When joints are inflamed they can develop stiffness, warmth, swelling, redness and pain. There are over 100 types of arthritis, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, lupus, gout, and pseudogout.
Aseptic necrosis (avascular necrosis or osteonecrosis) develops when blood supply diminishes to an area of bone and causes bone death. Though aseptic necrosis may be painless, pain is often associated when using the degenerating bone. If caught early, aseptic necrosis may be treated by grafting new bone into the degenerating area. In later stages, joint replacement surgery may be required.
Broken Bone (Types of Bone Fractures)
A broken bone is a fracture. There are different types of fractures, such as: compressed, open, stress, greenstick, spiral, vertebral compression, compound, and comminuted. Symptoms of a broken bone include pain at the site of injury, swelling, and bruising around the area of injury. Treatment of a fracture depends on the type and location of the injury.
The bacteria Brucella causes brucellosis, an infectious zoonotic disease in humans. Symptoms and signs include fatigue, fever, sweating, and appetite loss. The preferred treatment is doxycycline and rifampin taken for six to eight weeks.
The common bunion, an enlargement of the inner portion of the joint at the base of the big toe, primarily affects women. The signs and symptoms of bunions include inflammation, redness, tenderness, and pain of the first metatarsophalangeal joint. The little toe may also develop a bunion (tailor's bunion). Rest, walking shoes, stretching, cold packs, and anti-inflammatory medications may alleviate pain. Surgery is also a treatment option.
A bursa is a fluid-filled sac found in the joints that cushions them. Bursitis is an inflammation of the bursae, most commonly caused by repetitive motion. Bursitis can be caused by a bacterial infection and should be treated with antibiotics. Doctors also recommend icing and resting the joint.
The bacteria Capnocytophaga canimorsus is common in the mouths of cats, people, and dogs. People with weak immune systems are at risk for contracting Capnocytophaga infections. Antibiotics can kill this bacteria.
Chikungunya Virus (Chikungunya Infection)
Chikungunya virus is an infection spread (transmitted) through a bite from an infected mosquito. Common symptoms of Chikungunya virus infection include joint pain, headache, rash, and fever. There is no drug or vaccine available to treat or prevent Chikungunya virus infections. Some medicines and home remedies may help relieve symptoms of Chikungunya virus infection.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS or SEID)
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) or systemic exertion intolerance disease (SEID) is a debilitating and complex disorder characterized by profound fatigue that lasts six months or longer, is not improved by bed rest, and may be worsened by physical or mental activity.
Connective Tissue Disease
Connective tissue disease is when the body's connective tissues come under attack, possibly becoming injured by inflammation. Inherited connective tissue diseases include Marfan syndrome and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. Systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, polymositis, and dermatomyositis are examples of connective tissue diseases that have no known cause.
Dengue fever is contracted from the bite of a striped Aedes aegypti mosquito. Symptoms and signs of dengue include headache, fever, exhaustion, severe joint and muscle pain, rash, and swollen glands. Since dengue is caused by a virus, there is no specific medicine to treat it. Treatment instead focuses on relieving the symptoms.
The shoulder is the most often dislocated joint in the body due to its mobility. Dislocation occurs when the head of the humerus is dislocated from its socket. Symptoms and signs of a shoulder dislocation include nausea and vomiting, lightheadedness, weakness, and sweating. There are various methods of reducing a dislocation and returning the humeral head to its normal place. The method for reduction of a shoulder dislocation depends upon the type of dislocation, the patient, the situation, and the clinician's experience. Intravenous narcotics and muscle relaxants are often administered to relax the muscles and relieve pain.
Ebola (Ebola Virus Disease or Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever)
Ebola hemorrhagic fever (HF) is an often-fatal disease that causes fever, headache, vomiting, diarrhea, sore throat, stomach pain, rash, and red eyes. There is no standard treatment for Ebola HF.
Elbow pain is most often the result of tendinitis, which can affect the inner or outer elbow. Treatment includes ice, rest, and medication for inflammation. Inflammation, redness, warmth, swelling, tenderness, and decreased range of motion are other symptoms associated with elbow pain. Treatment for elbow pain depends upon the nature of the patient's underlying disease or condition.
Fabry Disease (Symptoms and Life Expectancy)
Fabry disease (Fabry's disease, alpha-galactosidase-A) is a genetic disorder with symptoms such as burning sensations in the hands, small-raised reddish-purplish blemishes on the skin, fever, decreases sweating, and gastrointestinal (GI) difficulties. Fabry disease patients are at increased risk of heart attack, heart disease, kidney failure, and stroke. Symptoms of Fabry disease can be treated with medication.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain condition characterized by symptoms such as fatigue, sleep disturbances, and tender points. Stress reduction, exercise, and medication are the standard treatments for fibromyalgia.
Fungal arthritis is inflammation of a joint by a fungus that has invaded the body and is growing in the normally sterile joint. Symptoms and signs include pain, redness, loss of range of motion, and swelling. Fungal arthritis is treated with antibiotics.
German Measles (Rubella)
German measles is a disease that's caused by a virus. Symptoms include rash and fever for two to three days. The MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine prevents this disease.
Buildup of uric acid crystals in a joint causes gouty arthritis. Symptoms and signs include joint pain, swelling, heat, and redness, typically of a single joint. Gout may be treated with diet and lifestyle changes, as well as medication.
Graft Versus Host Disease (GVHD)
Graft versus host disease (GVHD) is a condition that happens when immune cells from transplanted donor tissue attack the recipient's tissues. Signs and symptoms of acute GVHD include enteritis, hepatitis, and dermatitis. Chronic GVHD symptoms and signs include rash, skin discoloration, dry mouth or eyes, jaundice, fatigue, and wheezing, among others. The standard of GVHD treatment is immunosuppressant medications.
Head and Neck Cancer
Head and neck cancer is cancer of the oral cavity, salivary glands, paranasal sinuses and nasal cavity, pharynx, larynx, or lymph nodes in the upper part of the neck. These cancers account for 3% to 5% of cancers in the U.S. Tobacco and alcohol use are important risk factors. Treatment may involve surgery, radiation therapy, and/or chemotherapy.
Henoch-Schonlein purpura (HSP or anaphylactoid purpura), a type of blood vessel inflammation, results in rash, arthritis, and occasional abdominal cramping. HSP often resolves on its own. Joint pain may be treated with anti-inflammatory and cortisone medications.
Hepatitis E Viral Infection
Hepatitis E (hep E) is a type of hepatitis viral infection that includes hepatitis A, B, C, D, F, which is caused by the hepatitis E virus. Usually, you get (transmitted) hepatitis E from eating or drinking dirty or contaminated water. Hepatitis E can be very serious, especially if a woman is pregnant. Up to ¼ of women who are pregnant with the hep E virus can die from the infection. The signs and symptoms of hepatitis E infection are nausea and vomiting, brown or dark urine, stool changes jaundice (yellow eyes and skin), pain in the right side of the abdomen, dark or brown urine, and light-colored stool. Some people with hep E don’t have any symptoms so they don’t know that they are contagious. It takes about 6 weeks to recover from hep E. A person who has any type of hepatitis, including hepatitis E, should not drink any alcohol. Hep E complications are rare, but when they do occur they include severe (“fulminant”) hepatitis, liver failure, and death. Currently, no specific drugs or treatments are available for hepatitis E. Moreover, the only hepatitis E vaccine currently is available in China. Avoid alcohol, keep hydrated, and getting rest are home remedies for hepatitis E. Talk to your doctor before taking any over-the-counter (medications), especially those containing acetaminophen (Tylenol and others). Usually, the prognosis and life expectancy for hepatitis E after recovery is good. Most people do not have long term liver problems from the infection.
Bursitis of the hip results when the fluid-filled sac (bursa) near the hip becomes inflamed due to localized soft tissue trauma or strain. Symptoms include stiffness and pain around the hip joint. If the hip bursa is not infected, hip bursitis can be treated with ice compresses, rest, and anti-inflammatory and pain medications.
Arthritis, bursitis, IT band syndrome, fracture, and strain are just some of the causes of hip pain. Associated symptoms and signs include swelling, tenderness, difficulty sleeping on the hip, and loss of range of motion of the hip. Treatment depends upon the cause of the hip pain but may include anti-inflammatory medications and icing and resting the hip joint.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) causes HIV infection and the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Symptoms and signs of HIV infection include fatigue, enlarged lymph glands, and recurrent vaginal yeast infections. Highly active antiretroviral therapy (ART) is the standard treatment for HIV infection.
The joint hypermobility syndrome is a condition in which the joints easily move beyond the normal range expected for a particular joint. The condition tends to run in families. Symptoms of hypermobility syndrome include joint pain. People with hypermobility syndrome are more susceptible to injury, including dislocations and sprains. Anti-inflammatory drugs can help with joint pain. Exercise can strengthen muscles, providing stability.
Iliotibial Band Syndrome
Iliotibial band syndrome is an overuse injury of the thigh and knee. Symptoms include knee pain and possible swelling. Treatment may involve anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, ultrasound, massage, using a foam roller at the site of pain, and the use of orthotics.
Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis)
Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (juvenile rheumatoid arthritis or JRA) annually affects one child in every thousand. There are six types of JIA. Treatment of juvenile arthritis depends upon the type the child has and should focus on treating the symptoms that manifest.
Bursitis of the knee results when any of the three fluid-filled sacs (bursae) become inflamed due to injury or strain. Symptoms include pain, swelling, warmth, tenderness, and redness. Treatment of knee bursitis depends on whether infection is involved. If the knee bursa is not infected, knee bursitis may be treated with ice compresses, rest, and anti-inflammatory and pain medications.
Knee injuries, especially meniscus tears, are common in contact sports. Symptoms and signs of a torn meniscus include knee pain, swelling, a popping sound, and difficulty bending the leg. Treatment may involve resting, icing, compressing, and elevating the knee, in addition to wearing a knee brace, taking anti-inflammatory medications, and stretching the knee.
Leukemia is a type of cancer of the blood cells in which the growth and development of the blood cells are abnormal. Strictly speaking, leukemia should refer only to cancer of the white blood cells (the leukocytes) but in practice it can apply to malignancy of any cellular element in the blood or bone marrow, as in red cell leukemia (erythroleukemia).
Lyme disease is a bacterial illness, which is spread by ticks when they bite the skin. Initially the disease affects the skin causing a reddish rash associated with flu-like symptoms. It takes weeks to months after the initial redness of the skin for its effects to spread throughout the body. Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics. Lyme disease can be prevented by using tick avoidance techniques.
Osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis caused by inflammation, breakdown, and eventual loss of cartilage in the joints. Also known as degenerative arthritis. Osteoarthritis can be caused by aging, heredity, and injury from trauma or disease.
With osteochondritis dissecans, bone and its adjacent cartilage loses its blood supply. Though osteochondritis dissecans can involve any joint's bone and cartilage, elbows and knees are most commonly affected. Though there is no known cure, arthroscopic surgery is frequently performed to remove the damaged cartilage and bone tissue from the joint.
Pigmented Villonodular Synovitis (PVNS)
Pigmented villonodular synovitis (PVNS) is unusual growth of the tissue that lines the tendons in the body (synovium) and joints. PVNS causes hitching of the joint, loss of range of movement, and pain. Diagnosis may incorporate X-rays, MRI, CT scan, and joint aspiration. Treatment involves surgery and radiation if a patient can't have surgery.
Plant Thorn Synovitis
Plant thorn synovitis (plant thorn arthritis) is joint inflammation caused by a thorn puncturing the joint and leaving residual plant matter in the joint. Symptoms and signs include swelling, reddish discoloration, loss of range of motion, pain, tenderness, and stiffness. Treatment involves a surgical procedure called a synovectomy with joint lavage to remove the affected joint lining tissue and thorn fragments.
Polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) is a disorder of the muscles and joints that causes pain and stiffness in the arms, neck, shoulders, and buttocks. Treatment for polymyalgia rheumatica aims to reduce inflammation with aspirin, ibuprofen, and low doses of cortisone medications.
Pseudogout, a form of arthritis, results when deposits of crystals collect in and around the joints. Symptoms of pseudogout include pain, stiffness, warmth, and joint swelling of the knees, ankles, hips, shoulders, and/or wrists. Treatment for pseudogout aims to decrease inflammation through the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, ice, and rest.
Psoriatic arthritis is a disease that causes skin and joint inflammation. Symptoms and signs include painful, stiff, and swollen joints, tendinitis, and organ inflammation. Treatment involves anti-inflammatory medications and exercise.
Reactive arthritis is a chronic, systemic rheumatic disease characterized by three conditions, including conjunctivitis, joint inflammation, and genital, urinary, or gastrointestinal system inflammation. Inflammation leads to pain, swelling, warmth, redness, and stiffness of the affected joints. Non-joint areas may experience irritation and pain. Treatment for reactive arthritis depends on which area of the body is affected. Joint inflammation is treated with anti-inflammatory medications.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation of the joints, the tissue around the joints, as well as other organs in the body. Because it can affect multiple other organs of the body, rheumatoid arthritis is referred to as a systemic illness and is sometimes called rheumatoid disease. The 16 characteristic early RA signs and symptoms include the following. Anemia Both sides of the body affected (symmetric) Depression Fatigue Fever Joint deformity Joint pain Joint redness Joint stiffness Joint swelling Joint tenderness Joint warmth Limping Loss of joint function Loss of joint range of motion Many joints affected (polyarthritis)
Rheumatoid Arthritis vs. Fibromyalgia
Though rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and fibromyalgia have similar symptoms, RA is an autoimmune disease and fibromyalgia is a chronic pain syndrome. RA symptoms include joint redness, swelling, and pain that lasts more than six weeks. Fibromyalgia symptoms include widespread pain, tingling feet or hands, depression, and bowel irritability. Home remedies for both include stress reduction, exercise, and getting enough sleep.
Rheumatology is the study of rheumatic diseases and conditions. Rheumatologists are internal medicine physicians who treat these illnesses, in particular arthritis.
Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction (SI Joint Pain)
Sacroiliac joint (SI) dysfunction is a general term to reflect pain in the SI joints. Causes of SI joint pain include osteoarthritis, abnormal walking pattern, and disorders that can cause SI joint inflammation including gout, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and ankylosing spondylitis. Treatment includes oral medications, cortisone injections, and surgery.
Salmonella infection (salmonellosis) is typically caused by the consumption of contaminated foods. Symptoms of salmonellosis include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Salmonellosis typically resolves on its own in four to seven days. It's important to increase one's fluid intake to compensate for the fluid lost by vomiting and/or diarrhea.
SAPHO syndrome is a chronic disorder that involves the skin, bone, and joints. SAPHO syndrome is an eponym for the combination of synovitis, acne, pustulosis, hyperostosis, and osteitis. SAPHO syndrome is related to arthritic conditions such as ankylosing spondylitis and reactive arthritis. Treatment is directed toward the individual symptoms that are present, and includes medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and cortisone medications.
Septic arthritis, or infectious arthritis, is infection of one or more joints by bacteria, viruses, or fungi. Symptoms and signs of septic arthritis include fever, joint pain, chills, swelling, redness, warmth, and stiffness. Treatment involves antibiotics and the drainage of the infected joint.
Shoulder bursitis is inflammation of the shoulder bursa. Bursitis may be caused by injury, infection, or a rheumatic condition. Symptoms include pain, swelling, tenderness, and pain with movement of the shoulder joint. Treatment may involve ice compresses, rest, and anti-inflammatory medications and depends on whether there is an infection.
Sickle Cell Disease (Sickle Cell Anemia)
Sickle cell anemia (sickle cell disease), a blood disease which shortens life expectancy, is caused by an inherited abnormal hemoglobin. Symptoms of sickle cell anemia may include bacterial infections, painful swelling of the hands and feet, fever, leg ulcers, fatigue, anemia, eye damage, and lung and heart injury. Treatment for sickle cell anemia aims to manage and prevent the worst manifestations of the disease and focuses on therapies that block red blood cells from stacking together, which can lead to tissue and organ damage and pain.
Sjögren's syndrome is an autoimmune disease involving the abnormal production of extra antibodies that attack the glands and connective tissue. Sjögren's syndrome with gland inflammation (resulting dry eyes and mouth, etc.) that is not associated with another connective tissue disease is referred to as primary Sjögren's syndrome. Sjögren's syndrome that is also associated with a connective tissue disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, or scleroderma, is referred to as secondary Sjögren's syndrome. Though there is no cure for Sjögren's syndrome, the symptoms may be treated by using lubricating eye ointments, drinking plenty of water, humidifying the air, and using glycerin swabs. Medications are also available to treat dry eye and dry mouth.
Sprains and Strains
An injury to a ligament is called a sprain, and an injury to muscle or tendon is called a strain. Sprains and strains may be caused by repetitive movements or a single stressful incident. Symptoms and signs include pain and swelling. Though treatment depends upon the extent and location of the injury, rest, ice, compression, and elevation are key elements of treatment.
STDs in Men
Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are infections transmitted during sexual contact. They may be caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites. STDs in men cause no symptoms or symptoms like genital burning, itching, sores, rashes, or discharge. Common infections that are sexually transmitted in men include gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, hepatitis C and B, genital warts, human papillomavirus (HPV), and genital herpes. Some STDs in men are treatable while others are not. STDs are diagnosed with tests that identify proteins or genetic material of the organisms causing the infection. The prognosis of an STD depends on whether the infection is treatable or not. Use of latex condoms can help reduce the risk of contracting an STD but it does not eliminate the risk entirely.
Steroid Drug Withdrawal
Corticosteroid drugs such as prednisone and prednisolone are commonly used to treat asthma, allergic reactions, RA, and IBD. Steroids such as these do have serious drawbacks such as steroid withdrawal symptoms such as: fatigue, weakness, decreased appetite, weight loss, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Speak with your health care provider prior to tapering off steroid medications.
Still's disease (systemic-onset juvenile rheumatoid arthritis) is a disorder characterized by inflammation with high fever spikes, fatigue, salmon-colored rash, and/or arthritis. Though there have been several theories regarding the cause(s) of Still's disease, the cause is not yet known. Many symptoms of Still's disease are often treatable with anti-inflammatory drugs.
Sweet Syndrome (Acute Febrile Neutrophilic Dermatosis)
Sweet syndrome (acute febrile neutrophilic dermatosis) is a skin condition that sometimes occurs due to an immune system response to RA, pregnancy, certain cancers, inflammatory bowel diseases, blood disorders, respiratory tract infections, and particular medications. Symptoms and signs include characteristic skin lesions that grow and spread into clusters. Sore eyes, high fever, mouth ulcers, headache, and aching joints may accompany the lesions. Though Sweet syndrome may resolve on its own, more severe cases may require medications like corticosteroids.
Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)
Tennis elbow is also known as lateral epicondylitis. Symptoms of tennis elbow include tenderness and dull pain of the outer elbow. Resting, applying cold packs, and taking anti-inflammatory medications are usually effective treatments for tennis elbow.
A toothache is pain on or around a tooth. It may have a variety of causes, including a cavity, abscess, or even sinusitis. Toothache symptoms include pain, headache, earache, bad taste in the mouth, and gum swelling. Dental X-rays and other tests performed by a dentist are used to diagnose the cause of a toothache. Toothache treatment depends on the underlying cause. Taking proper care of the teeth and gums can help prevent toothache.
Torn ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tear)
The anterior cruciate ligament helps to prevent the top and bottom of the knee from sliding back and forth. Symptoms and signs of a torn ACL include knee pain and swelling. Treatment of a torn ACL depends upon the health of the patient and the patient's expectations and willingness to undertake extensive physical therapy. Rehabilitation after surgical repair of an ACL tear may take more than nine months.
A torn meniscus (knee cartilage) may be caused by suddenly stopping, sharply twisting, or deep squatting or kneeling when lifting heavy weight. Symptoms of a meniscal tear include pain with running or walking long distances, popping when climbing stairs, a giving way sensation, locking, or swelling. Treatment depends upon the severity, location, and underlying disease of the knee joint.
Typhus is a disease caused by Rickettsia bacteria. Symptoms and signs include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and rash. Antibiotics are recommended as the treatment for endemic and epidemic typhus infections.
Valley fever (coccidioidomycosis) is a disease caused by the inhalation of the Coccidioides immitis or C. posadasii fungus. Symptoms are flu-like and resolve over two to six weeks. Infection typically requires no treatment, though there are many antifungal drugs to treat valley fever.
Zika Virus (Zika Fever)
The Zika virus is transmitted by the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. Symptoms and signs of a Zika virus infection include conjunctivitis, headache, joint pain, fever, rash, and muscle aches. Treatment for Zika virus infections aims to alleviate symptoms.
Examples of Medications for Joint Pain
- acetaminophen (Tylenol, Tylenol Arthritis Pain, Tylenol Ext, Little Fevers Children's Fever/Pain)
- aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid, Bayer, Ecotrin, and others)
- ibuprofen (Advil, Children's Advil/Motrin, Medipren, Motrin, Nuprin, PediaCare Fever, and others)
- Ketorolac vs. diclofenac
- Ketorolac vs. ibuprofen (Advil)
- Ketorolac vs. naproxen (Aleve)
- naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox, Naprelan, Naprosyn)
- Nonsteroidal Antiinflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
- OTC Pain Relievers and Fever Reducers