Joint pain is the feeling of discomfort or pain in a joint or joints in the body. Joints are spaces or areas where two or more bones come together, such as the hip, knee, shoulder, elbow, and ankle. Joint pain can happen with or without movement and can be serious enough to limit movement. People can describe joint pain as discomfort, inflammation, increased heat or a burning sensation, pain, stiffness, or pain.
Joints allow our bones to move. They are made up of cartilage, ligaments, tendons, bursa, and the synovial membrane. Any of the structures in a joint can become irritated or inflamed in response to a variety of mild to serious illnesses, disorders, or conditions.
Some causes of joint pain require urgent treatment. For example:
- If you have an infection in a joint (septic arthritis) then you will need to be seen in hospital as an emergency.
- If you have a broken bone (fracture) which involves a joint.
- If you are thought to have rheumatoid arthritis then you will need an urgent appointment with a specialist because starting treatment early will reduce the risk of long-term problems.
Joint pain can be caused by many types of injuries or conditions. It may be linked to arthritis, bursitis, and muscle pain. No matter what causes it, joint pain can be very bothersome. Some things that can cause joint pain are:
- - Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus
- - Bursitis
- - Chondromalacia patellae
- - Crystals in the joint -- gout (especially found in the big toe) and CPPD arthritis (pseudogout)
- - Infections caused by a virus
- - Injury, such as a fracture
- - Osteoarthritis
- - Osteomyelitis (bone infection)
- - Septic arthritis (joint infection)
- - Tendinitis
- - Unusual exertion or overuse, including strains or sprains
Signs of joint inflammation include:
- - Swelling
- - Warmth
- - Tenderness
- - Redness
- - Pain with movement