So, you experience joint pain? Stiffness, pain, and general discomfort make it hard for you to live your life. It may affect how you walk, run, or prevent you from performing certain activities around the house. Perhaps joint problems run in your family, and now they’re finally affecting you. Or maybe this is all new to you, and you aren’t sure why this is happening in the first place!
You love learning new things and understanding how they work, so let’s learn more about joint pain. We’ll be covering a lot of information in this article, but don’t worry: we won’t give you any more information than necessary for us to answer.
What Are Joint Pain And Its Common Symptoms?
Joint pain is a symptom of many different conditions that affect the bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons, or cartilage surrounding joints. Common symptoms include pain, stiffness, and swelling in one or more joints.
The most common joint symptoms include:
- Stiffness: Joints may feel tight and difficult to move.
- Swelling: Affected joints may appear larger than usual and be warm to the touch.
- Redness: Joints may redden as blood vessels around them widen (dilate) in response to inflammation. This may cause your skin to take on a purplish hue if you have light skin or an ashy gray color if you have dark skin.
Some joint symptoms are persistent — meaning they last for three months or more — while others come and go (intermittent).
What Are The Different Types Of Arthritis?
There are many types of arthritis. In fact, there are more than 100 different types of arthritis and related conditions. The most common type is osteoarthritis, affecting nearly 27 million American adults. Others include rheumatoid arthritis (RA), psoriatic arthritis (PsA), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE or lupus), and fibromyalgia, to name a few.
There’s also juvenile idiopathic arthritis—a form of the condition that affects children under age 17. Another is muscular disorders that cause muscle pain and tendinitis, which causes inflammation in the tendons surrounding joints such as your ankles and knees. Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. It affects millions of people, gradually wearing away at the cartilage which cushions joints.
Common symptoms are mild to moderate pain, stiffness, and swelling in your joints. If you have osteoarthritis, you will likely have aching or pain in your knees and hips after walking, climbing stairs, or standing up from a seated position. The symptoms usually improve when you rest and feel worse as the day goes on.
With all that said, here’s a breakdown of some of the most common ones:
This type of arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation of your joints. It may cause damage to other organs in your body as well. It usually begins slowly with minor symptoms that come and go, typically on both sides of your body (the same joint on both hands).
Inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis may also affect other tissues throughout the body, including skin, eyes, lungs, heart, and blood vessels. This might lead to various complications such as fatigue, fevers, weight loss, and anemia (a decrease in red blood cells).
Psoriatic arthritis occurs in about 15 percent of people with psoriasis (a condition that causes red scaly patches on the skin). However, some people have joint problems years before they develop psoriasis.
The risk is higher if you have severe psoriasis involving more than 5 percent of your body area or if anyone else in your family has psoriatic arthritis. Psoriatic arthritis often affects fingers and toes first; moving up to wrists, knees, ankles, elbows, hips, shoulders, neck, low back, jaw, or scalp may follow later as swelling becomes more severe over time.
This type of inflammatory arthritis is characterized by sudden severe attacks lasting a few days. It occurs due to excess uric acid crystals forming deposits in joints causing sudden episodes of painful joint inflammation. The swelling may last from hours to days and then subside for months between flare-ups.
Who Are The Persons More Prone To Joint Pain?
Everybody has heard that joint pain is more common in the elderly. While it is true that the incidence of osteoarthritis increases with age, it doesn’t mean that young people are immune to the problem.
Why do some people seem to be able to eat whatever they want and never feel any side effects, while others are in constant pain? It seems unfair. But, few factors contribute to joint pain and figuring out which ones apply to you. Your lifestyle may help you make the necessary changes to start feeling better.
In fact, there are many other factors besides age that may cause or increase a person’s likelihood of developing joint pain. Here are just a few of them:
Many diseases might be passed down from generation to generation and affect a person’s body. For example, suppose you have a history of rheumatoid arthritis in your family. In that case, you’re more likely to suffer from it as well. However, this isn’t always true since many things may trigger arthritis, such as smoking or being overweight.
Athletes also tend to get multiple joint pains due to pressure on their joints during exercise or sports. However, this depends on the sports—for instance, running puts a lot of pressure on your knees and hips while swimming puts pressure on your shoulders and elbows.
As we get older, our bodies start to change and show signs of wear and tear. Joints tend to undergo quite a lot of stress over time, and this often leaves them in poor shape once people reach middle age. Cartilage tends to wear down, and bone density also decreases with age, contributing to joint problems.
Does Stress Causes Joint Pain?
Joint pain is often blamed on stress. However, the truth is that stress does not cause joint pain. Stress may, nevertheless, make your current joint pain worse.
When you are under a lot of stress, cortisol and adrenaline levels in your body increase, and adrenaline increases the sensation of pain, blood pressure, and heart rate. Moreover, cortisol acts against anti-inflammatory chemicals that would typically work to reduce joint pain and inflammation.
Therefore, when your cortisol levels increase from being stressed out, inflammation rises too. This makes it more difficult for your body to deal with everyday issues like minor damage to your joints or muscles. Additionally, stress may lead to bad habits like smoking or eating unhealthy foods, which will only make you feel worse in the long run!
Does Dehydration Cause My Joint Pain?
Maybe you’re a runner. Perhaps you’re someone who likes to lift weights. And possibly, you’ve been wondering why your joints ache after a particularly intense workout. Don’t worry—you aren’t alone!
If you’ve been exercising and noticing some joint pain, several things could be causing the aches and pains. The first thing you should do is check your water intake. Why? Because hydration plays a vital role in the health of your skeletal system and may cause some issues if you aren’t drinking enough water before, during, or after a workout.
Remember that your body needs water to function correctly—and this is especially true when it comes to your joints. Without proper hydration, cartilage—the connective tissue between bones—may wear down, increasing the likelihood of joint pain and arthritis. Cartilage needs water for lubrication, but it also absorbs shock from running and jumping, which may help prevent damage to the joints and muscles.
Do Allergies Cause Joint Pain?
Does your joint pain seem to get worse during allergy season? You’re not imagining it—and here’s why.
Allergies and joint pain are more closely related than you might think. Many people with inflammatory conditions, like rheumatoid arthritis, find their symptoms worsen during allergy season.
Why does this happen? To put it simply: Inflammation is inflammation. Allergies cause inflammation in your sinuses, which may lead to headaches, facial pressure, and sinus congestion—but it’s also common for the inflammation from allergies to spread beyond your nasal passages and lead to swollen lips or a sore throat.
Suppose you already have underlying inflammation in your joints (common in people with inflammatory conditions like arthritis). That inflammation might also worsen when your allergies flare up, leading to more severe joint pain than you usually experience.
The good news is that learning how to manage your allergies may help you better manage your joint pain. Here’s what you need to know about addressing the two together:
Allergy-Proof Your Home
This means vacuuming regularly and washing bedding weekly in hot water. Also, bathing pets weekly and cleaning their fur out of the carpet, and keeping windows and doors shut as much as possible. This will help keep allergens from irritating your joints.
Consider Allergy Shots
If you’ve been diagnosed with an allergy that triggers joint pain, consider getting allergy shots to help you build a tolerance to the allergen. They might make a massive difference in how much pain you’re suffering. Don’t get them without first checking with your doctor to ensure they won’t exacerbate any joint problems you’re having.
Stay On Top Of Your Allergies
Don’t let sneezing or coughing go untreated if you have allergies—this may cause joint pain. Take medications to manage your allergies proactively, so you don’t wake up in pain after a fitful night’s sleep due to sneezing and coughing all night long.
Does Climate Affect Joint Pain?
Yes, in many cases. The pain people experience due to joint issues is caused by inflammation. Suppose a person’s joint health is already compromised. In that case, extreme temperatures may cause a flare-up or worsen the pain the person already has.
For example, when it’s cold outside, a person’s body tries to keep itself warm by reducing blood flow to their extremities and constricting blood vessels. This may lead to ‘cold joints,’ which are stiffer than average and cause more pain and swelling in certain conditions such as arthritis.
On the other hand, when it’s hot outside, this causes an increase in blood flow and an expansion of blood vessels in your body (especially your skin). This may lead to dehydration, which may cause muscle soreness and other aches that aggravate joint pain issues you might have.
Does Diabetes Cause My Joint Pain?
While joint pain isn’t often a primary symptom of diabetes, you may experience joint aches and stiffness if you have the condition. It’s not directly caused by high blood sugar but rather by complications from diabetes.
Diabetes might cause nerve damage and increase inflammation, leading to joint pain. For example, neuropathic pain (a type of nerve pain) or carpal tunnel syndrome (pressure on a major nerve leading to the hand) may affect joints in your hands and fingers. Foot problems are another common side effect of diabetes that may lead to joint pain if you have damaged or infected feet (due to neuropathy).
A common joint problem is osteoarthritis, which occurs when cartilage wears down between joints over time. People with diabetes are more likely to develop osteoarthritis at younger ages than those without the disease.
Is Joint Pain Related To Covid-19?
Suppose you’re currently experiencing joint pain and have tested positive for COVID-19 or have been exposed to the virus and are experiencing flu-like symptoms. In that case, your joint pain may result from the infection. But, how does COVID-19 cause joint pain?
Because COVID-19 causes inflammation in the body, it may also lead to rheumatoid arthritis flare-ups. Inflammation is a normal immune system response to injuries, infections, and foreign invaders in the body.
However, suppose your immune system goes into overdrive as it fights off COVID-19. It may lead to inflammation in other body parts, including your joints. This may lead to intense pain and discomfort from swelling around inflamed joints like your knees, wrists, hands, fingers, or toes.
Is Being Obese Or Overweight Causing My Joint Pain?
The simple answer is yes. Joint pain and weight are closely linked. In fact, carrying excess body weight is one of the most common joint pain causes. That’s because extra pounds put more pressure on your joints, particularly in your knees and hips. Obesity may also lead to inflammation, increasing the likelihood of developing conditions like osteoarthritis that may cause joint pain.
Losing weight may improve your symptoms and help prevent further joint damage caused by being overweight or obese. Even losing just a few pounds makes a big difference to your health—and it could help reduce the amount of stress placed on your joints, leading to less pain in the long run.
In addition to reducing stress on your joints, exercise will also increase your overall energy levels and help you maintain a healthy weight. Both of which are essential for managing chronic pain conditions like arthritis.
Do Alcohol And Smoking Affect Arthritis Symptoms And Joint Pain?
These questions are often asked regarding joint pain, and the answer is always yes; the two may have a negative effect. Here’s why:
Alcohol may lead to inflammation in certain people, which you definitely want to avoid if you have arthritis. Smoking cigarettes is also known for causing your body to release chemicals that increase inflammation.
On top of that, alcohol has made some medications less effective. As we’ve seen before with NSAIDs, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs aren’t much help if they cannot work in your system. As for smoking, it may interfere with medication that makes use of your intestinal flora (they help digest food and play an essential role in your well-being.)
In addition to making symptoms worse or interfering with treatment plans, excessive drinking or smoking has been linked to the development of osteoporosis and gout. Alcohol consumption has been linked with both conditions.
Similarly, smoking cigarettes raises your risk of developing osteoporosis even further. This may be due to nicotine’s effects on blood vessels and potentially estrogen production in women.
What Are The Worst Foods For Your Joints?
There are a variety of foods that may make your joint pain worse—and a few that may help. Here are some you might want to avoid:
Sugary And Fatty Foods
Inflammation-causing trans fats and sugars contribute to inflammation and weight gain, injuring joints. Studies have linked polyunsaturated fat (PUFA) intake with increased inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis patients; these PUFAs are commonly found in vegetable oils.
Foods High In Purines
Gout is caused by an excess of uric acid buildup due to the body’s inability to flush the compound through urine. The main culprit behind gout attacks is purine consumption. Purines are naturally occurring compounds in animal foods that break down into uric acid.
Therefore, it is critical for people with gout attacks to avoid red meats, organ meats like liver (they have the highest concentration of purines), shellfish, shrimp, oysters, and anchovies.
Fatty Dairy Products
Dairy products contain saturated fat and casein, which may trigger joint pain. Instead, opt for non-fat or low-fat alternatives like almond milk or plant proteins like soybeans which benefit you nutritionally but don’t harm your joints.
What Are The Best Foods For Your Joints?
There are no magic recipes to help you avoid permanent joint pain. Still, there are undoubtedly several foods and supplements that have anti-inflammatory properties, may reduce joint pain and inflammation, and may alleviate arthritis symptoms:
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
These compounds may reduce stiff joints and decrease inflammation. According to a study published by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, omega-3 has also been shown to slow down the progression of rheumatoid arthritis. Salmon, trout, and tuna are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
In some cases of joint pain, oxidative damage is involved. Foods rich in antioxidants such as fruits like berries and vegetables like kale help prevent this type of damage thanks to their high content of vitamins A, C, and E. Thus, antioxidants may help in joint pain relief by acting on oxidative stress pathways.
How Do I Treat Joint Pain?
Treatment options for joint pain depend on the type of arthritis you have, your overall health, and your joints’ level of damage. Options range from physical therapy, medications, and lifestyle changes to surgery.
Whatever treatment you use, the goal is to reduce inflammation, treat pain, and improve joint function. Some medicines may help ease symptoms with minimal risk and side effects. Others may help slow disease progression if started early enough in the disease. Still, others may be helpful in one part of the body but not another because certain parts respond differently to various treatments.
No matter which treatment you choose or even try several at once — make sure it’s safe for you by talking with your doctor first. Don’t self-treat a long-term condition with limited-use medicines such as NSAIDs unless advised by your doctor. These medicines could cause serious side effects if used too long or in large doses.
Which Doctor To Consult Regarding Joint Pain?
An initial consultation should be scheduled with a rheumatologist for patients with joint pain. Rheumatologists are medical doctors trained to diagnose and treat arthritis and other diseases of the joints, muscles, and bones. They perform detailed patient histories, physical examinations, and laboratory tests to diagnose your condition.
Furthermore, rheumatologists will work with you to develop a treatment plan tailored to your specific needs based on their findings. This may include medication, exercise programs, or occupational therapy.
Additionally, a rheumatologist will monitor your progress overtime to ensure that your treatment plans are effective in helping you manage your joint pain.
Is An X-Ray Needed For Joint Pain Or Arthritis?
Routine X-rays are not necessary for simple joint pain. However, if symptoms of arthritis are present, or if the joint does not appear normal on physical examination, an X-ray may be ordered.
Moreover, an X-ray is a quick and relatively inexpensive way to look at the bones and joints for arthritis or joint injury. Some types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, provide necessary diagnostic data that may help determine the type of arthritis you have and the extent of the damage.
Which Exercises Will Improve My Knee (Or Other) Joint Pain?
Exercise is an essential treatment for many people with arthritis. Moving your joints through their full range of motion helps to keep them flexible and mobile and may help relieve stiff joints.
The right kind of exercise may also strengthen the muscles around your joints and reduce pain. However, not all training is suitable for everyone. It’s important to choose activities that are appropriate for you.
If you have knee osteoarthritis, try a short brisk walk every day and some strengthening exercises for your hip and knee (lunges are one option). Suppose you have hip pain from rheumatoid arthritis. In that case, it may be possible to do some strengthening exercises too – ask your physiotherapist.
Likewise, suppose you have shoulder pain from osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. It is usually OK to do gentle exercise, such as swimming (your physiotherapist may advise on this). Finally, if you have osteoarthritis in hand joint, try some simple exercises to strengthen the muscles around that joint.
Is There A Permanent Cure For Arthritis Or Joint Pain?
If you have arthritis, treatment aims to control the pain and inflammation. You may manage your symptoms through exercise, diet, and other lifestyle changes.
Medications are used to treat the symptoms of arthritis. These prescriptions are also called disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). They help slow down or stop joint damage. Some common medications include:
- aspirin or ibuprofen
Unfortunately, there is no cure for arthritis, but it may be controlled with medication and natural remedies. The goal is to relieve pain and stiffness so that you may move more freely and enjoy a good quality of life.
Physical therapy may also be helpful for some types of arthritis. Your physical therapist will work with you on strengthening exercises and movement techniques to help improve your strength and relieve pain from arthritis.
Here are a few additional tips to help you prevent joint pain:
Don’t Stay In The Same Position For Too Long
Sitting at a computer, driving, or standing in one spot may stiffen your joints. To avoid this stiffness, frequently change positions, whether sitting or standing. Also, try moving your wrists and ‘writing’ cursive letters in the air with your hands several times per hour.
Watch How You Sit And Stand
Ensure that you don’t cross your legs or keep them bent under you for too long when you sit. Don’t let yourself slump over when standing either; keep good posture by pulling your stomach muscles and keeping your shoulders back.
These tips will reduce strain on the joints of your back, hips, and knees and lessen fatigue on other parts of the body, such as the feet and ankles.
Try Not To Lift Heavy Objects Alone
If you want to ensure you don’t get joint pain from lifting heavy objects, you should avoid doing it alone. If an item is too heavy for you to carry by yourself, ask for help from a friend or family member instead of risking injury from trying to do it alone.
If you’ve noticed joint pain, it’s good to speak with your doctor. Joint pain might be an indicator of inflammation in the body. It may lead to more serious conditions down the road.
Additionally, consider ways you may be able to reduce inflammation in your body. It could be as simple as making a few dietary changes or finding new stress management techniques.
Finally, remember that there are different causes of joint pain. Therefore, it’s important not to jump to conclusions before speaking with your doctor about potential underlying issues that may need attention.