Definition


Joint pain can be discomfort, pain or inflammation arising from any part of a joint — including cartilage, bone, ligaments, tendons or muscles. Most commonly, however, joint pain refers to arthritis or arthralgia, which is inflammation or pain from within the joint itself.

Joint pain can be mild, causing soreness only after certain activities, or it can be severe, making even limited movement, particularly bearing weight, extremely painful.

Causes


Causes of joint pain include:

  1. Adult Still's disease
  2. Ankylosing spondylitis
  3. Avascular necrosis (death of bone tissue due to limited blood flow)
  4. Bone cancer
  5. Broken bone
  6. Bursitis (joint inflammation)
  7. Complex regional pain syndrome (chronic pain due to a dysfunctional nervous system)
  8. Dislocation
  9. Fibromyalgia
  10. Gonococcal arthritis
  11. Gout (arthritis related to excess uric acid)
  12. Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)
  13. Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (formerly known as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis)
  14. Leukemia
  15. Lupus
  16. Lyme disease
  17. Osteoarthritis (disease causing the breakdown of joints)
  18. Osteomyelitis (a bone infection)
  19. Paget's disease of bone
  20. Polymyalgia rheumatica
  21. Pseudogout
  22. Psoriatic arthritis
  23. Reactive arthritis
  24. Rheumatic fever
  25. Rheumatoid arthritis (inflammatory joint disease)
  26. Rickets
  27. Sarcoidosis (collections of inflammatory cells in the body)
  28. Septic arthritis
  29. Sprains
  30. Tendinitis

When to see a doctor


Joint pain is rarely an emergency. Most cases of mild joint pain can be successfully managed at home.

Make an appointment with your doctor if your joint pain is accompanied by:

  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Tenderness and warmth around the joint

See a doctor immediately if your joint pain is caused by an injury and is accompanied by:

  • Joint deformity
  • Inability to use the joint
  • Intense pain
  • Sudden swelling

Self-care

When caring for mild joint pain at home, follow these tips:

  • Try an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or naproxen sodium (Aleve).
  • Avoid using your joint in ways that cause or worsen pain.
  • Apply ice or a package of frozen peas to your painful joint for 15 to 20 minutes a few times each day.
  • Apply a heating pad, soak in a warm tub or take a warm shower to relax muscles and increase circulation.

Addison's disease

Adult Still's disease

Arthritis

Aspergillosis

Autoimmune hepatitis

Behcet's disease

Bone spurs

Brucellosis

Bursitis

Cancer

Celiac disease

Chronic fatigue syndrome

Churg-Strauss syndrome

Complex regional pain syndrome

Complex regional pain syndrome is a chronic, painful disease that typically affects an arm or leg that was recently injured or infected.

Dengue fever

Diabetic neuropathy

Dislocation

Ebola virus and Marburg virus

Ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis

Encephalitis

Gonorrhea

Granulomatosis with polyangiitis

Hemochromatosis

Hemophilia

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis C

Histoplasmosis

HIV/AIDS

Hypercalcemia

Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)

Integrative approaches to treating pain

Jellyfish stings

Joint injections

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis

Kawasaki disease

Lifestyle strategies for pain management

Lupus

Lyme disease

Mixed connective tissue disease

Myocarditis

Nutrition and pain

Pain rehabilitation

Parvovirus infection

Pituitary tumors

Polio

One of the most feared diseases of the 20th century, polio has been eradicated from the developed world but remains a threat in less developed nations.

Polymyositis

Post-polio syndrome

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)

Pseudogout

Pulmonary fibrosis

Reactive arthritis

Rheumatic fever

Rheumatoid arthritis

Rubella

Sacroiliitis

Self-care approaches to treating pain

Septic arthritis

Sjogren's syndrome

Staph infections

Takayasu's arteritis

Treating pain: Conventional medical care

Treating pain: Overview

Understanding pain

Valley fever

Vasculitis

Wilson's disease

Zika virus