When One Step Feels Like a Thousand Miles
Joint pain is a very common problem with many possible causes, but it’s usually a result of injury or arthritis. In older people, joint pain that gets steadily worse is usually a sign of osteoarthritis. It may affect just 1 joint or many.
What causes joint pain?
- One of the most common causes of joint pain is arthritis. The two main forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
According to the American College of Rheumatology, osteoarthritis (OA) is most common in adults over age 40. It progresses slowly and tends to affect commonly used joints like the:
- Wrists, Hands, Hips, Knees
Joint pain due to osteoarthritis (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 rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) affects about 1.5 million. It more commonly affects women than men. It can deform and debilitate the joints over time. Arthritis (RA) causes pain, inflammation, and fluid buildup in the joints as the body’s immune system attacks the membrane that lines the joints.
Other diseases that causes Joint pain:
- bursitis, or inflammation of the cushioning pads around joints, lupus, gout, certain infectious diseases, such as mumps, influenza, and hepatitis, chondromalacia of the patella, or a breakdown of the cartilage in the kneecap
- an injury, tendinitis, or inflammation of the tendon , an infection of the bone or joint, overuse of a joint, cancer, fibromyalgia, osteoporosis, sarcoidosis and rickets
What are the symptoms of joint pain?
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:
- the area around the joint is swollen, red, tender, or warm to the touch, the pain persists for three days or more and you have a fever but no other signs of the flu.
The initial diagnosis of joint pain will likely involve an evaluation by a doctor. They will usually look at the person’s medical history and carry out a physical examination. The doctor may ask questions, such as whether the pain appeared after an injury or whether there is a family history of joint disease. As part of the physical exam, they will inspect the joints and check their range of motion.
A doctor may order laboratory tests to help make a diagnosis. These may include blood tests to check for the following:
- rheumatoid factor
- erythrocyte sedimentation rate
- uric acid
- C-reactive protein
- antinuclear antibodies
Imaging techniques such as X-ray and MRI, ultrasound, and CT scans may also help with the diagnosis.
Treatment for joint pain will vary depending on the underlying cause. Typically, a doctor may prescribe pain medication to relieve pain. For example, for arthritis, they may suggest nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroids, or disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs).
If the joint pain is due to an infection, a doctor will prescribe antibiotics or antivirals to reduce and manage the symptoms. If the pain is due to an injury or arthritis, a doctor may refer people to a physical therapist for rehabilitation. In more severe cases, or if the pain persists, a doctor may recommend undergoing surgery.
AMERICAN SPINE CENTER
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