Why do joints hurt

Joint pain is not uncommon. Nearly half (45 percent) of all people over the age of 45 complain of joint pain, especially knee pain. Complaints can also arise at a young age. In most cases, joint pain is caused by signs of wear and tear - here doctors talk about osteoarthritis. In addition, arthritis and acute trauma are often the cause of joint pain. But there are many other possible reasons.

shoulder pain


As usual joint pain, the types are very diverse, so the classification of joint pain is based on different criteria. For example, joint pain can be divided into three groups according to the time of onset:

  • Acute pain in the joints occurs within a few hours.
  • Subacute pain in the joints becomes noticeable during the day.
  • Chronic joint pain develops over several weeks or months.

Joint pain can often be persistent and progressive (chronic progressive course). Sometimes joint pain occurs only acutely and temporarily (acute remitting course).

In some cases, joint pain affects only one joint, such as the knee joint. But also pain can catch from two to four joints (pain in the oligo-joints) or more joints (pain in the joint joints).

In addition, joint pain varies, for example, in relation to:

  • Painful rhythms: pain at rest, night pain, morning stiffness of the joints.
  • Distribution patterns: Pain in small joints (such as wrists, knuckles) or large joints (such as knee and hip joints), joint pain in carpal joints, etc.
  • Pain Intensity: Assess the severity of joint pain on a scale from 0 (no pain) to 10 (unbearable, extreme pain).
  • Exacerbating factors: for example, reduction of joint pain during movement (typical arthritis) or after rest (typical osteoarthritis).

Such information is important for doctors to determine the cause of joint pain.

joint pain all over the body

Especially the joints are affected

Which joint is most often affected by pain depends on the degree that determines the cause of the pain. Some examples.

Osteoarthritis, one of the leading causes of joint pain, is especially noticeable in joints that take a lot of stress over a lifetime. First of all, these are the knee joints, hip joints and hock joints. Osteoarthritis can also cause pain in all other joints.

Rheumatoid arthritis is also a common cause of joint pain. Painful joint inflammation, most often appearing on the wrist and finger joints. In addition, pain in the knee, elbow, metatarsophalangeal joints, and shoulders is common in rheumatoid arthritis.

Joint pain in an acute attack of gout almost always affects the joints of the feet, especially the metatarsophalangeal joints. Hocks and knee joints are often also affected.

Bursitis can cause pain in the hips, elbows, knees, and shoulders.

Causes and possible diseases

Joint pain can have a variety of causes. The most important are:

  • Joint thirst (joint arthritis):Osteoarthritis is the most common form of joint disease and can affect, in essence, all joints. Due to the destruction of the cartilage layer on the articular surface and bone changes, the affected joint cannot move freely, it becomes red, swollen and sore. Osteoarthritis is often the cause of pain in the wrists, hips and knees. Joint wear is usually caused by long -term strain of the joint. In addition, osteoarthritis may be a late result of an accident (such as a sports injury), and joint damage due to congenital weakness or joint deformity.
  • Bursitis:Bursae are located in the form of shock -absorbing layers in stressed places primarily between bone and soft tissue, for example, in the joint area. They usually consist of cavities filled with joint fluid. Inflammatory or mechanical irritation (such as sports injuries) can injure the bursa and cause pain in the affected area. For example, pain in the elbow is often caused by inflammation of the bursa in the elbow joint, pain in the shoulder due to bursitis or calcification in the shoulder area, knee pain due to inflammation of the bursa in the knee joint, and pain in the knee joint. hip due to inflammation of the bursa on the larger colic (bone bulge on the upper part of the outer thigh).
  • Bacterial arthritis (bacterial arthritis):Bacterial arthritis mainly affects the knee and hip joints. Bacteria either enter the joint through the blood or directly infect the joint (through trauma or surgery on the joint, or during diagnostic injections into the joint). Severe knee or hip pain with severe joint swelling and inflammatory symptoms (such as redness, localized heat, fever) may indicate bacterial arthritis.
  • Lyme disease (Lyme arthritis):Joint pain in Lyme disease is also based on bacterial inflammation in the joints. It is caused by certain bacteria (Borrelia burgdorferi) that are transmitted from fleas to humans. About four weeks after delivery, fatigue, fever, redness, and joint pain occur.
  • Associated joint inflammation during and after infection.Inflammatory joint pain can occur during and after common infectious diseases such as hepatitis, rubella, mumps, chickenpox, scarlet fever, tuberculosis, influenza, and inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis). Due to the resulting pain in the joints and swelling, there are restrictions on movement in the joints, especially large ones (hip joints, knee joints, ankle joints).
  • Arthritis in Reiter's disease:Reiter's syndrome is a rare rheumatic disease. Symptoms include arthralgia associated with urethritis and conjunctivitis.
  • Inflammation of the joints in psoriasis (psoriatic arthritis):Psoriasis is sometimes accompanied by inflammation that causes joint pain. In some cases, joint pain precedes the skin manifestation of the disease, that is, joint pain occurs first and only then scaly skin lesions develop. Psoriatic arthritis may be the cause, especially if the joints of the fingers and toes and/or the spine are affected.
  • Inflammation of the joints in ankylosing spondylitis.Ankylosing spondylitis is a chronic rheumatic inflammation that primarily affects the spine but can also spread to large joints. Therefore, knee pain, hip pain, heel pain and/or ankle pain may be the cause of Bechterew’s disease.
  • Gout (or an acute attack of gout):Gout increases the concentration of uric acid in the blood. The excess is stored in the form of uric acid crystals, among other things, in the joints - an acute attack of gout occurs with severe pain in the joints, swelling and redness in the joint area. First of all, the big toe joint is affected. But an acute attack of gout can also cause pain in the knee, pain in the wrist, pain in the knuckles or upper part of the ankle.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis:This is the most common inflammatory disease of the joints, progressive, mostly chronic, and gradually destroys the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis may be suspected if joint pain affects the fingers and wrists. Other symptoms of this condition include morning stiffness of the fingers and wrists, swelling in the joints, and an inability to make fists.
  • Rheumatic fever:This inflammatory disease, which occurs mainly in children, is caused by certain bacteria (streptococcus) a few days or weeks after a nose and throat infection that is not treated with antibiotics. Possible symptoms include inflammatory joint pain, skin symptoms, inflammation of the heart (carditis), and sudden and uncontrolled movements (chorea).
  • Arthritis with sarcoidosis (Löfgren's syndrome):Sarcoidosis is a rare inflammatory disease of unknown origin that can affect the entire body. One form of the disease is Löfgren's syndrome (acute sarcoidosis). It occurs mainly in young women and has the following symptoms: inflammation, joint pain (especially in the ankles), acute inflammation of the subcutaneous adipose tissue (erythema nodosum), swelling of the lymph nodes in the lungs (bronchial lymphadenopathy), and weight loss.
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE):It is a rare autoimmune disease that mostly affects women, often causing joint pain and inflammation. But there are also the possibility of many other different symptoms, such as a butterfly-shaped rash on the face, pleurisy, pericarditis, inflammation of the kidneys or brain, loss of appetite and weight loss. Therefore, lupus erythematosus in medicine is called "chameleon".
  • Articular bleeding that violates coagulation.In rare cases of hemophilia, there is a hereditary tendency to uncontrolled bleeding after injury or, in severe cases, even for no apparent reason. Especially often there is bleeding in the muscles and joints. Bleeding in the joints can cause joint pain and permanent joint damage if left untreated. In addition to hemophilia, other bleeding disorders can also cause joint bleeding and joint pain, such as bleeding disorders due to anticoagulant overdose.

When should you see a doctor?

Joint pain sometimes goes away on its own or can be relieved with simple home remedies. But beware of the following symptoms:

  • Joint pain that limits joint movement.
  • Fever.
  • Redness of the skin in the area of the sore joint.
  • Swollen joints.

If joint -related symptoms (joint pain with limited movement, redness, swelling) persist for three days or more, worsen, or spread to other joints, you should definitely see a doctor.

What does the doctor do?

To explain the cause of joint pain, the doctor will first ask the patient about their medical history. For example, when and where joint pain occurs and if there are other complaints (accompanying symptoms such as fever or swollen joints).

An accurate description of joint pain

This information is very important for diagnosing joint pain: the more accurately a patient can describe joint pain, the faster the doctor can narrow down the number of possible causes. For example, an acute gout attack is thought to cause pain in only one joint. In rheumatoid arthritis, in contrast, arthralgias are observed in some joints. In addition, the location (localization) of joint pain is indicative: if the patient experiences pain in the wrist and pain in the base and middle joints of the fingers, rheumatoid arthritis is most likely present. On the other hand, if joint pain affects the base of the thumb and knuckles, the suspicion is towards osteoarthritis.

Scanning (palpation)

No matter where the joint pain occurs, the doctor should clarify the question: is the joint itself really sore, or is the joint pain supposed to come from an area close to the joint or adjacent bone? In some cases, doctors can find the answer to this question simply by feeling the painful area. However, often additional examinations, such as x-rays or ultrasounds, are needed.

Further Research on Arthritis

Such an examination can help identify the cause of the pain, if the joint pain occurs directly in the joint:

  • Orthopedic examination:If joint pain is caused by wear and tear (arthritis), bursitis, rheumatism, or an acute attack of gout, relevant information is available during orthopedic examination.
  • Dermatological examination:Skin examination helps identify psoriatic arthritis or sarcoidosis that is suspected to be a possible cause of joint pain.
  • Blood test:blood tests are useful in identifying various causes of joint pain, such as bacterial arthritis or Lyme disease. Sometimes special measures, such as blood clots, are needed in a blood test if joint bleeding (due to a clotting disorder) may be causing joint pain. If rheumatoid arthritis is the cause of joint pain, then in the blood, first of all, rheumatoid factors and other signs of inflammation are determined, which is very important. And if gout or an acute attack of gout is suspected, the focus is on the level of uric acid in the blood.
  • Ultrasound examination:ultrasound (ultrasound) is indicated when bursitis, gout, or systemic lupus erythematosus is suspected to be the cause of joint pain.
  • X-ray:x-rays show signs of wear and tear on the joints (arthritis), rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis.
  • Joint puncture:if doctors suspect bacterial joint inflammation as the cause of joint pain, they will take a joint fluid sample (joint puncture) Bacterial culture is done from this sample: if bacteria grow from the joint sample, this indicates bacterial inflammation of the joint.

It is not always possible to find disease or pathological tissue changes as the cause of joint pain. Doctors talk about "joint sensitivity". If the cause of the joint pain is found, the doctor can begin appropriate treatment and treat the underlying condition with medication or surgery.

You can make it yourself

General tips for joint pain

  • Lose excess weight. Any extra kilograms is an unnecessary additional burden on the joints and contributes to their wear and tear, which inevitably leads to joint pain.
  • Make sure you get enough rest after exercising.
  • Perform regular endurance exercises to strengthen your articular muscles and cartilage. For example, swimming and cycling are ideal for joint training. Regular strength training (such as weightlifting, rope jumping) is also recommended to strengthen bones. Consult with an experienced trainer or sports physician to determine the correct dosage and develop a balanced exercise program that strengthens all muscles evenly.
  • Avoid one -sided loads such as carrying a heavy bag over your shoulder.
  • According to Jacobson, it is necessary to reduce mental stress with, for example, autogenic training or progressive muscle relaxation. Emotional stress also puts pressure on the joints, shoulders, and bones.
  • Joint pain and other joint complaints are treated in traditional Chinese medicine with acupuncture. Consult an experienced therapist.

Joint Treatment Tips

  • If osteoarthritis is diagnosed, that is, a recent severe arthritis with pain, swelling and redness, you must paralyze the affected joint (bed rest). Hold so that the muscles associated with it are not tense. Give yourself wet and cold compresses (such as quark bandages) to relieve joint discomfort. The effects of anti-inflammatory and pain medications that you get from your doctor can be enhanced with the help of medicinal plants. Arnica is very suitable (as a decoction to compress or as an ointment or gel to rub into the joints). In addition, there are, for example, anti-inflammatory and analgesic preparations based on willow bark, as well as combined preparations with rosemary and eucalyptus oils. In addition, peppermint oil can relieve pain perception due to its cooling effect.
  • Once the joint pain, including redness and swelling, has subsided, doctors talk about inactive osteoarthritis. At this stage of the disease, prevention of resumption of active complaints about the joints is carried out. This is facilitated by adequate and healthy sleep on an orthopedic mattress, as the muscles relax well, and the spine and joints relax.
  • In addition, you should regularly use meditative relaxation techniques (such as gradual muscle relaxation, autogenic training) if you often experience muscle tension under stress.
  • Regular exercise and exercise that increases the supply of synovial fluid and nutrients to the articular cartilage. Useful sports are swimming, cycling and water aerobics. On the other hand, running on hard pavement is not recommended, especially if osteoarthritis has damaged the knee and hip joints. If possible, run on soft forest grass and wear soft -soled shoes that give a good impression. Better, walking than jogging.
  • Avoid sports with a sudden change of direction (e. g. tennis, squash) as it puts a lot of pressure on the joints (e. g. knee joints) and quickly causes joint pain.
  • Try not to stand or sit in one position for long periods of time.
  • Eat a diet low in arachidonic acid. These omega-6 fatty acids play an important role in the inflammatory response (such as osteoarthritis caused by arthritis). Arachidonic acid is mainly found in fatty pork, egg yolks, lard, tuna, liver, beef and camembert.
  • Take omega-3 fatty acids regularly as they act as a competing analogue of arachidonic acid in the inflammatory response. You can find more of these fatty acids in fish oil (eat fish at least once a week! ).
  • Make sure you get enough vitamin E, which is important for synovial fluid because it provides its antioxidant effect on inflammation. Vitamin E is found in vegetable oils, especially in wheat germ, soy and sunflower seeds.
  • Joint pain associated with Osteoarthritis and other joint complaints can often be reduced with the use of heat that stimulates circulation, such as fango sachets, paraffin, senna, rosemary baths.
  • For osteoarthritis of the finger joints, kneading with warm clay or loam can help with joint pain and swelling. Frequent finger exercises in heated sand are also highly recommended. It is very good for morning stiffness and joint pain.
  • Massaging and rubbing with essential oils of eucalyptus, juniper, rosemary, lavender or lemon helps improve blood circulation and therefore fights joint inflammation.
  • For inactive osteoarthritis, devil’s claw root tea is recommended: pour one tablespoon of coarsely ground root into two cups of boiling water and steep for eight hours. Boil before use, then strain, divide the amount of tea prepared into three servings and drink throughout the day. The effects of taking the devil’s claw infusion appear around the third week of treatment.
  • For the treatment of inactive osteoarthritis, a mixture of currant leaf tea, willow bark, nettle grass, horsetail and meadowsweet flowers (20 g per component) is also recommended. Take two teaspoons of this mixture and pour a glass of boiling water, let it brew for half an hour, then strain. Drink 5-6 cups of this tea throughout the day. It has anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects.
  • Also helpful in treating arthritis irritation are dry cupping and leech therapy (also anti-inflammatory). Treatment with blood alone is controversial, especially if the treated fluid is injected into the joint (risk of infection! ).

Tips for rheumatoid arthritis

Some osteoarthritis tips should also be used for people with rheumatoid arthritis. These include nutritional advice, recommendations for topical use of arnica and devil’s claw root. Additional tips that can help with rheumatoid joint pain and other joint problems:

  • During periods of mild discomfort (an inactive rheumatoid arthritis condition), you can use physical therapy and massage to keep your joints flexible.
  • During the process of severe inflammation (active rheumatoid arthritis), you can prepare a mixture of anti-inflammatory teas from meadowsweet, willow bark, goldenrod, currant grass and nettle (20 g per herb). Pour one tablespoon of this mixture into a cup of cold water and leave for an hour. Then bring to a boil, but do not boil! Remove from heat, leave for five to ten minutes, then strain. Drink three to four cups of this tea daily.
  • For acute inflammation of the joints, the use of protein -digesting enzymes, such as bromelain, should help.
  • Highly recommended for rheumatic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, tai chi and qigong. This is a holistic Chinese form of movement that can improve patient mobility, muscle strength, endurance, quality of life and mood, studies show. The effect, according to Chinese medicine, is that calm fluid movements and breathing exercises release blockages in the body and make vitality (Qi) flow. Slow exercise is also suitable for patients whose movement is limited due to joint pain and inflammation.
  • Inflamed joint pain can be relieved with cold or heat treatment - try whichever works best for you. In general, cooling is recommended for acute joint inflammation to stop the inflammation. In chronic illness, warmth is usually more pleasant, such as a hot bath (like senna flowers), a fango pack, or a mud treatment.
  • Even creams and ointments on medicinal plants exhibit anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects. These include ready -to -use preparations that contain willow bark or rosemary and eucalyptus oils. In addition, peppermint oil can reduce pain perception by irritating cold receptors on the skin.
  • Ayurvedic therapists recommend a cleansing procedure (panchakarma treatment) for rheumatic diseases to remove toxins (called ama) from the body. According to this teaching, the accumulation of ama is the cause of disease. For acute inflammation of the joints with pain in the joints, Indian incense (shallaki) and triphala (a mixture of herbs) are used. Both have strong anti-inflammatory effects.