We have joints all over our bodies, where bone and bone plus bone and muscle connect. So it’s not surprising that, at some point in your lifetime, you will experience joint pain in one area or another.
However, joint pain has a variety of causes, some of which come with age or overuse, and others that are a side effect of other health problems like obesity, anxiety, or Lyme disease.
If you’re suffering from joint pain and not sure why, one of these causes might be the source of your pain. And the sooner you pinpoint the cause, the sooner you can experience joint pain relief.
Let’s dive in.
What causes joint pain?
One of the most common causes of joint pain is osteoarthritis, which occurs when the cartilage between bones wears away. Osteoarthritis can set in around middle age and slowly develop over time.
Psoriatic Arthritis is another cause of joint pain that affects middle-aged individuals where the body’s immune system attacks healthy joint tissue. While these and other forms of arthritis may be the cause of joint pain for some, older individuals, in particular, it’s not the case for everyone.
Here a few other causes of joint pain.
Other causes of joint pain
There are many other causes of muscle and joint pain, including minor injuries and serious health conditions that require medical attention.
Fibromyalgia is a condition where the nervous system doesn’t function properly, thus causing chronic pain. It can affect joints, muscles, and tissues. While the pain is typically shooting or tingling, it can also be dull and aching. One way to tell if your joint pain is stemming from Fibromyalgia is if the pain moves around the body, as opposed to affecting one joint.
Hypothyroidism can be the result of other health conditions, but it is defined by an underactive thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is responsible for controlling many of the body’s important hormones. When the thyroid isn’t working properly, it can cause joint aches, as well as a myriad of other issues. Some of the other symptoms include weight gain and fatigue.
Unlike arthritis, where the joints are inflamed, hemarthrosis occurs when there is bleeding in a joint, which causes pain. If you have had trauma or also see bruising around the joint in pain, you may have hemarthrosis.
4. Lyme Disease
If you are experiencing joint pain due to Lyme disease, your joints may be inflamed or swollen. Lyme disease can affect a number of different joints in the body, but it also comes with more serious side effects. If you think you may have Lyme disease (contracted from ticks), you should see your doctor right away.
Perhaps surprising to some, chronic joint pain, as well as back pain and muscle pain, can arise as physical symptoms of depression. While joint paint may sound unrelated to depression, the same neurotransmitters that affect mood affect pain. Sometimes, these are the first symptoms someone with depression reports.
The more weight your body has to carry, the harder it is on your joints, particularly those that bear your weight such as your knees. This is how obesity can lead to joint pain, but it can become even more serious. Over time, obesity can cause wear and tear on the cartilage in the joints, leading to osteoarthritis.
Tendinitis is a common cause of joint pain for athletes, in particular, as it is typically the result of overuse. But it can affect anyone, especially those who use repetitive motions in their work, such as painting or shoveling. Tendinitis is inflammation of the tendons that typically affects the elbow, heel, knee, or shoulder. The pain usually radiates around the affected area.
8. Viral infections
Viral infections, such as the flu, can cause muscle and joint pain as well. This can make it difficult or painful to move and uncomfortable for the person even when still. However, with the passing of the virus, the pain passes as well.
Research is still uncovering the many effects of stress on the body. Still, it’s clear that although our body’s stress response is essential in life-threatening situations, chronic stress can have serious side effects. One of these side effects is joint pain. Stress cues your body’s inflammation response, which can cause joint pain and worsen joint pain due to arthritis and autoimmune diseases.
Menopause may be another reason you are experiencing joint pain. When women undergo hormonal changes, such as during menopause, it can cause various symptoms such as fatigue, poor sleep, depression, and joint pain.
What helps joint pain?
There are many things you can do at home to relieve joint pain. However, solutions will often depend on identifying what is causing joint pain in the first place.
For instance, if you think excess weight may be putting undue pressure on your joints, try getting in more exercise and eating a healthy diet to lose weight. You can also relieve joint pain from overuse by icing or applying heat to the area and giving it rest.
Stretching and low-impact exercises like swimming or walking can also help strengthen your joints and improve their function. An anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen, may also offer joint pain relief.
When to see a doctor for joint pain
While some joint pain causes can be addressed with rest, ice, and easy exercise, others require medical attention. Physical therapy, for instance, can help with stiffness and improve range of motion. Your doctor may also prescribe joint pain medication or medication to address the underlying health condition, such as anti-depressants or thyroid replacement hormones.
If you need treatment such as this, or you still don’t know what is causing your joint pain, talk to your doctor. They can help diagnose the problem and provide a treatment plan that will relieve your joint pain.