Just about any joint in the body can be affected by joint pain. However, quite often joint pain strikes in the fingers, knees, ankles, wrists, hips and shoulders. Knee pain is the most common form of joint pain.3 This is largely because we put a lot of strain on our knees when we put our full bodyweight on them as we move from place to place throughout the day, every day.
Causes of joint pain
Joints form the connections between our bones and allow us to move. A number of conditions can cause joint pain such as:
- Strains or sprains
- Inflammation of the joint lining after injury
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and a chronic condition that many adults experience, especially after 45 years of age4, 5. It is the result of reduced cartilage, which acts as a lubricant between the bones in your joints ensuring smooth, functional movements. When cartilage gets worn down, the bones in the joint rub against one another, causing pain, stiffness, and a diminished range of motion. Osteoarthritis occurs as a result of wear and tear on your joints over time. Osteoarthritis is a condition that tends to develop over time, and can also result in painful flare ups. So, if you have joint pain in one or more joints that is getting steadily worse over time, speak with your doctor about the possibility that you may have osteoarthritis.
Strains or sprains
Joint pain is often a result of injury. An accident like a fall can cause torn ligaments or ruptured tendons, which usually cause sudden and severe pain perhaps with a popping or snapping sound; and require immediate medical attention. Overuse can cause tendonitis (e.g. tennis elbow) which can present as pain in a joint tendon, that gets worse when you move: or difficulty moving, accompanied by swelling or heat. Sometimes banging or twisting a joint the wrong way can even result in damage to the cartilage in the joint, or even bleeding into the joint space. Such injuries are characterised by swelling, redness, bruising, and stiffness.6 If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should seek immediate medical attention.
Inflammation of the joint lining
All of our joints are protected by a thin layer of tissue called synovium. When a joint is injured, the synovium can become inflamed, which causes soreness and swelling. This usually happens shortly after you’ve injured your joint. Inflammation of the joint lining does not cause redness or heat and can generally be managed at home with rest and anti-inflammatories.7