Joints are the parts of your body where your bones meet. Joints allow the bones of your skeleton to move. Joints include:
Joint pain refers to discomfort, aches, and soreness in any of the body’s joints. Joint pain is a common complaint. It doesn’t typically require a hospital visit.
Sometimes, joint pain is the result of an illness or injury. Arthritis is also a common cause of joint pain. However, it can also be due to other conditions or factors.
According to the American College of Rheumatology, OA is most common in adults over age 40. It progresses slowly and tends to affect commonly used joints like the:
Joint pain due to OA results from a breakdown of the cartilage that serves as a cushion and shock absorber for the joints.
The second form of arthritis is RA. According to the Arthritis Foundation, RA affects about 1.5 million Americans. It more commonly affects women than men.
It can deform and debilitate the joints over time. RA causes pain, inflammation, and fluid buildup in the joints as the body’s immune system attacks the membrane that lines the joints.
Joint pain can be caused by:
In some cases, your joint pain will require you to see a doctor. You should make an appointment if you don’t know the cause of your joint pain and are experiencing other unexplained symptoms.
You should also see a doctor if:
Go to the emergency room if any of the following occurs:
Your doctor will probably perform a physical exam. They’ll also ask you a series of questions about your joint pain. This may help to narrow down the potential causes.
A joint X-ray may be necessary to identify arthritis-related joint damage.
If your doctor suspects there’s another cause, they may order a blood test to screen for certain autoimmune disorders. They may also request a sedimentation rate test to measure the level of inflammation in the body or a complete blood count.
Doctors consider both OA and RA to be chronic conditions. There’s no treatment currently available that will completely eliminate the joint pain associated with arthritis or keep it from returning. However, there are ways to manage the pain:
Joint pain is often a result of the damage that occurs through normal wear and tear. However, it can also be a sign of an infection or potentially debilitating RA.
You should see your doctor if you have any unexplained joint pain, especially if it doesn’t go away on its own after a few days. Early detection and diagnosis can allow for effective treatment of the underlying cause of your discomfort.
Pain in your joints can have many different causes. For many people, joint pain is caused by arthritis, a group of conditions marked by inflammation in the joints.
About 23 percentTrusted Source of adults in the United States have arthritis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis. This type is caused by a breakdown of cartilage as you age.
For others, joint pain may be caused by an injury or infection of the joints, or another condition, such as fibromyalgia or even depression. It can also be the result of poor posture or long periods of inactivity.
It’s possible for people with arthritis to help their symptoms, but many don’t know how. Treating joint pain isn’t always as simple as taking a pill or doing a few exercises, but ignoring the pain won’t make it go away.
Fortunately, there are many available treatment options that you can try. Depending on the cause and severity of your joint pain, you can find the combination of treatments that work for you.
Many causes of joint pain can be managed at home with a few lifestyle changes.
To reduce stiffness in the joints, try alternating cold with hot treatments. Warm showers or baths may help lessen stiffness in your joints in the morning. At night, you can try sleeping with an electric heated blanket or a heating pad.
Cold treatment is also helpful for relieving inflammation in the joints. Wrap a gel ice pack in a towel and apply it to painful joints for 20 minutes at a time, several times a day.
Eating a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables might reduce the symptoms of arthritis.
Research suggests that a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants can help prevent inflammation. These foods include:
On top of including more of these foods in your diet, be sure to also cut out processed carbohydrates and saturated or trans fats.
Physical activity, such as walking or swimming, can not only decrease pain, but also improve your mood and quality of life. The CDC suggests that people with arthritis should try to get at least 150 minutesTrusted Source of physical activity each week.
Make sure to avoid activities that are more likely to cause joint injuries, such as high-impact exercises like tennis or running.
Tai chi and yoga are excellent activities for people with joint pain. One published studyTrusted Source found that tai chi had a positive impact on pain, physical function, depression, and quality of life for people with OA of the knee.
If you’re overweight, you can reduce joint pain and arthritis symptoms by maintaining a healthy weight. Added weight puts more pressure on your joints, particularly your knees, hips, and feet.
If you’re having trouble losing weight, a doctor can refer you to a dietitian to get you started on your weight loss journey.
Dietary supplements may help to relieve symptoms such as inflammation and joint pain. No dietary supplement has shown clear-cut benefits for joint pain, but there’s some evidence a few supplements might help.
Keep in mind that if your joint pain is being caused by another condition, such as RA, home remedies like supplements should never replace medical treatment.