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Understanding the Causes of Joint Pain

Joints enable our bones to interact seamlessly, providing the flexibility we need for everyday tasks. They allow for graceful shoulder movements, perfect for dancing with your loved ones, as well as sturdy hips that support you while your family gathers around for a celebration. However, there are times when joints become a source of discomfort, presenting as joint pain.

Joint pain is a familiar complaint for many individuals, causing discomfort, aches, and soreness in the joints throughout our bodies. Although it is common, it rarely requires hospitalization due to the various ways available to address and treat the problem without medical intervention. At times, joint pain arises as a result of specific illnesses or injuries, making it important to understand the underlying causes.

What causes joint pain?

When it comes to joint pain, arthritis takes the center stage as one of the most prevalent culprits. Osteoarthritis (OA) and Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) are the two most common types of arthritis that cause joint pain. Osteoarthritis usually affects individuals over 40 and gradually targets frequently used joints, leading to joint pain due to cartilage breakdown. Rheumatoid Arthritis, on the other hand, is caused by inflammation and fluid accumulation as the body's immune system mistakenly attacks the joint lining membrane, potentially causing impairments and deformities over time.

In addition, joint pain can result from a variety of factors, with each adding its own contribution toward the experience of discomfort. The factors include:

  • Bursitis

  • Lupus

  • Gout

  • Injuries

  • Tendinitis

  • Bone or joint infections

  • Fibromyalgia

  • Osteoporosis

  • Rickets

What are the symptoms of joint pain?

While many instances of joint pain can be managed effectively at home, there are circumstances where seeking medical attention becomes essential.

  • Swelling, redness, tenderness, or warmth

  • Persistent pain lasting three days or more

  • Serious injury

  • Deformity of the joint

  • Complete immobility of the joint

  • Severe joint pain

When diagnosing joint pain, it is best to consult a healthcare professional and perform physical examinations in order to determine the underlying causes of discomfort. This approach allows them to narrow down potential causes and provide the most suitable treatment plan to the patient. In some cases, a joint X-ray may be necessary for visual information. Additional tests may include blood tests for the screening of autoimmune disorders and measurement of inflammation levels in the body.

What are the treatments for joint pain?

Though the symptoms of joint pain may be relieved with treatment or medications, it is possible to slow down the progression of arthritis. There are lifestyle changes that can help you in avoiding joint pain such as:

  • Get enough exercise: Exercise can help strengthen muscles around your joints, offering more support to your bones and joint. Start with some low-impact activities such as walking, cycling, tai chi, and water-based exercises, in which all these activities are excellent options for individuals with joint pain.

  • Manage your weight: Losing weight can greatly reduce joint pressure and improve mobility. The extra weight puts more pressure on your joints especially your knees, hips, and feet.

  • Follow a healthy diet: Dietary choices can make a big difference to keep your weight in check. Eating a diet rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole food can enhance your immune system and overall well-being. A plant-based diet can also offer antioxidants that aid in reducing inflammation by eliminating harmful free radicals in the body.

  • Try acupuncture: Acupuncture stimulates specific points in the body, which is believed to rebalance energy flow and release natural pain-relieving substances. This can help reduce inflammation, improve circulation, and relieve joint pain. It is recommended to consult with a certified and licensed acupuncturist to explore this treatment option further.

  • Consider a supplement: Supplements containing Type II collagen and hyaluronic acid have been suggested to potentially relieve joint pain in individuals with osteoarthritis. Type II collagen may help to reduce inflammation in the joints, while hyaluronic acid may improve joint lubrication and cushioning. However, it's important to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen.

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