What Are the Different Causes of Articular Pain?

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  • Written By: Nicole Etolen
  • Edited By: M. C. Hughes
  • Last Modified Date: 28 October 2018
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Articular pain, or joint pain, has many different potential causes. While rheumatoid arthritis is one of the most common causes, other autoimmune disorders, infectious diseases, injury, and over-exertion can also cause pain in the joints. Any new or unusual pain in the joints should be evaluated by a medical professional to rule out serious underlying causes.

The word “articular” refers to anything of or relating to the joints. The human body has 360 different joints, each joining together two bones and enabling the skeleton to move. When articular pain affects one or more of those joints, simply daily activities can become unbearable. Diagnosing the cause behind the pain can help physicians determine the best course of action to provide relief.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is one of the most common causes of articular pain. The exact cause of RA is unknown, but it is a type of autoimmune disease, in which the body confuses healthy tissue for a foreign invader and attacks the tissue. RA primarily affects the joints of the wrists, fingers, feet, ankles, and knees. Treatment is a lifelong process involving medications, physical therapy, and in some cases, surgery.


Numerous infectious diseases can cause articular pain. It is one of the primary symptoms of Lyme disease, a bacterial infection transmitted through tick bites. Influenza, Epstein-Barr, hepatitis, and rheumatic fever can also cause articular pain. Treatment focuses on the underlying infectious agent, but in some cases, especially with Lyme disease, the pain can linger for months or years after the infection is resolved.

Bursitis, a condition that affects the bursae, or small fluid-filled pads that cushion the bones, muscles and tendons near your joints, is another major cause of articular pain. This condition most commonly affects the elbows, hips, or shoulders. Bursitis is common in athletes such as tennis players because of the frequent repetitive movement. While resting the joint and preventing further trauma is often enough to treat the condition, in some cases surgery may be required.

Injury to the joints, through either trauma or overuse, can lead to articular pain. Like bursitis, the pain is often resolved by resting the injured joint and allowing it to heal. A dislocated joint, or one that has been pushed out of its normal position, is an extremely painful injury requiring emergency treatment. Pain can linger for up to six weeks, and once a joint becomes dislocated, it is more likely to happen again.

Articular pain caused by over-exertion or other minor causes is generally treatable at home with over-the-counter medications. Unexplained pain that lingers for more than three days should be evaluated by a physician. If the pain is severe or accompanied by a fever not related to an infectious disease, emergency attention may be required.



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