- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Connective tissue disease
- Gout, a form of arthritis
- Strains or sprains
- Inflammation of the joint lining after injury
- Bleeding into the joint space
- Viral infection, such as hepatitis or rubella
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and a chronic condition that many adults experience, especially after 45 years of age.4,5 It is the result of reduced cartilage, which acts as a lubricant between the bones in your joints ensuring smooth, functional movements. When cartilage gets worn down, the bones in the joint rub against one another, causing pain, stiffness, and a diminished range of motion. Osteoarthritis occurs as a result of wear and tear on your joints over time. Osteoarthritis is a condition that tends to develop over time, and can also result in painful flare ups. So, if you have joint pain in one or more joints that is getting steadily worse over time, speak with your doctor about the possibility that you may have Osteoarthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a different kind of arthritis, that, unlike Osteoarthritis, is an auto-immune disease that damages your joints, cartilage, and nearby bone over time. Rheumatoid arthritis, also known as RA, can progressively worsen over time or come in bouts or flare-ups. The condition results in joint pain, swelling, stiffness, and inflammation in other parts of the body. This can also result in fatigue and lack of wellness. Rheumatoid arthritis needs to be assessed by your doctor. Together you can put together a treatment plan.
Connective tissue disease
Widespread joint pain can sometimes be an indication that there is another underlying condition that is affecting your joints and other organs in your body. Examples include lupus – an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks healthy cells in your body – or scleroderma – a condition in which the immune system attacks connective tissue below the skin.6 These conditions aren’t usually treated with over-the-counter medicine. It’s best to see your doctor for an assessment and treatment plan.
Bursitis is a condition that affects the small, synovial fluid-filled sacs – called bursae – that cushion the bones and tendons near your joints. Bursitis most often occurs in joints that are used in frequent, repetitive motions. The most common locations of bursitis are the shoulder, elbow, and hip. However, it can also occur in the knee, heel, or at the base of your big toe.7
Gout is a type of arthritis that comes on suddenly, even in the middle of the night. It is characterized by sudden, severe bouts of swelling, redness, and tenderness in the joints. Gout usually affects the joint in the big toe initially, but can also affect the fingers, wrists, elbows, or knees.8 Gout pain can feel quite intense. Bouts of gout can occur every few months or years, coming back more frequently if not treated. Although gout is a form of arthritis, it is treated differently than Osteoarthritis. Your doctor can assess and recommend treatment for this condition.
Strains or sprains
Joint pain is often a result of injury. An accident like a fall can cause torn ligaments or ruptured tendons, which usually cause sudden and severe pain perhaps with a popping or snapping sound; and require immediate medical attention. Overuse can cause tendonitis (e.g. tennis elbow) which can present as pain in a joint tendon accompanied by swelling or heat. Mild tendonitis can be treated with the help of your pharmacist, with anti-inflammatories such as Iodex UltraGel, or with the RICE methodology.9 Sometimes banging or twisting a joint the wrong way can even result in damage to the cartilage in the joint, or even bleeding into the joint space. Such injuries are characterized by swelling, redness, bruising, and stiffness following an injury.10 If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should seek immediate medical attention.
Inflammation of the joint lining
All of our joints are protected by a thin layer of tissue called synovium. When a joint is injured, the synovium can become inflamed, which causes soreness and swelling. This usually happens shortly after you’ve injured your joint. Inflammation of the joint lining does not cause redness or heat and can generally be managed at home with rest and anti-inflammatories.11
Bleeding into the joint space
Bleeding into the joint space, also known as haemarthrosis, can be caused by a recent injury to the knee, such as a ligament tear or joint fracture.
Signs of haemarthrosis include:
- Swelling of the joint
- Warmth around the joint
- Stiffness around the joint soon after injury12
Some viral infections can have a widespread effect on your body and cause joint pain or arthritis. Examples of viral infections that can cause fever-like symptoms and joint pain include hepatitis and rubella, among others.13
Diagnosing joint pain
If you experience persistent or chronic joint pain, you may want to get a diagnosis to clearly understand what is happening with your body.
Visit your doctor for a joint pain diagnosis. It’s a good idea to prepare for your doctor’s appointment and know what to expect. During your visit, your doctor may:14
- Ask about your medical history
- Give you a physical exam
- Draw blood for a laboratory test
- X-ray your affected joints