Joint discomfort is common and usually felt in the hands, feet, hips, knees, or spine. Pain may be constant or it can come and go. Sometimes the joint can feel stiff, achy, or sore. Some patients complain of a burning, throbbing, or “grating” sensation. In addition, the joint may feel stiff in the morning but loosen up and feel better with movement and activity. However, too much activity could make the pain worse.
Joint pain may affect the function of the joint, and can limit a person’s ability to do basic tasks. Severe joint pain can affect the quality of life. Treatment should focus not only on pain but also on the affected activities and functions.
What causes joint pain?
The most common causes of chronic pain in joints are:
Osteoarthritis, a common type of arthritis, happens over time when the cartilage, the protective cushion in between the bones, wears away. The joints become painful and stiff. Osteoarthritis develops slowly and usually occurs during middle age.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease that causes swelling and pain in the joints. Often the joints become deformed (usually occurring in the fingers and wrists).
Gout is a painful condition where crystals from the body collect in the joint, causing severe pain and swelling. This usually occurs in the big toe.
Bursitis is caused by overuse. It is usually found in the hip, knee, elbow, or shoulder.
Viral infections, rash, or fever may make joint movement painful.
Injuries, such as broken bones or sprains
Tendinitis is an inflammation of the tendons, or the flexible bands that connect bone and muscle. It is typically seen in the elbow, heel, or shoulder and is usually caused by overuse.