What are Common Causes of Joint Pain?

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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 13 November 2019
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The causes of joint pain range from very minor injuries and strains to more serious illnesses and chronic conditions. Perhaps the two most common causes of joint pain are injury due to physical activity, and arthritis, which occurs when the ligaments in a joint begin to degrade or disappear altogether. Other causes of joint pain include Lyme disease, infections, muscle strains, ligament sprains, inflammation, and bone breaks or fractures. A correct diagnosis of the pain may require a visit to the doctor, but for minor injuries such as strains or sprains, rest, ice, and easy to moderate exercise is often enough to relieve the pain.

As humans age, arthritis becomes one of the most common causes of joint pain. Ligaments that connect bones together at joints begin to wear out and disappear, leaving the bones to rub against each other. Such rubbing can lead to bone spurs, which are sharp edges worn into the bone by rubbing, and these bone spurs can in turn rub against nerves, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. The result is pain in and around the joints. Arthritis is generally treated with medication and moderate exercise, as well as daily stretching. Many cases of arthritis, however, cannot be fully cured.


Injuries to the joint are among the most common causes of joint pain. Sprains — injury to the ligaments that connect bones in a joint — happen often during physical activity and can take quite a while to heal. Such injuries are usually treated with the RICE method — rest, ice, compression, and elevation — and the affected joint will very often need reconditioning to regain strength and mobility after the injury. Muscle strains are also common injuries to joints. These injuries occur when muscles are overextended, and the small fibers of the muscle begin to tear. Such injuries are also treated with the RICE method, though more severe tears in which a full rupture of the muscle occurs may require surgery.

Countless diseases and infections rank among the common causes of joint pain as well. These can be difficult to diagnose and a doctor's visit will be necessary. Lyme disease, for example, will cause joint pain among many other symptoms. A doctor may recognize the grouping of symptoms as Lyme disease, making treatment quicker, safer, and more efficient. If the joint pain is accompanied by inflammation, bruising, tenderness, loss of mobility, or other conditions that make day to day activities difficult or impossible, one should consider visiting a doctor.



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