What Are the Most Common Causes of Aching Joints?

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  • Written By: Alex Paul
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 10 November 2018
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There are a number of common causes of aching joints. The most frequent cause of joint pain is an acute injury, such as a ligament sprain, in which pain occurs at the time of the incident. Overuse joint injuries are slower to develop, because they are the result of repeated movements causing damage to the joint tissues. Other causes of aching joints include inflammatory and autoimmune conditions such as arthritis and infections.

Aching joints are a common problem that can be caused by a variety of different factors. These causes range from minor problems, which heal naturally and relatively quickly, to life-threatening conditions that need immediate treatment. For this reason, if a person has joint pain for more than seven days or if the pain is severe, it is recommended that he or she should visit a doctor.

One of the most common causes of aching joints is injury. Joints such as the knee and hip are especially vulnerable to injuries such as ligament sprains. Other examples of joint injuries include dislocations, direct-impact injuries and torn cartilage. People who play sports are most at risk for an acute joint injury such as a sprain or cartilage tear, and the injuries often occur during twisting or high-velocity movements.


Overuse injuries, which are the result of repetitive movements causing damage to the tissue around the joint, are a frequently cause of aching joints, especially amongst athletes. The knee, for example, is put under a lot of strain during many activities, especially running. This can lead over time to microtrauma in the tendon beneath the knee, a condition known as patella tendinitis. Tennis elbow, Achilles tendinitis and iliopsoas tendinitis, which affects the hip, are other examples of overuse injuries.

Degenerative conditions are another common cause of aching joints. Osteoarthritis, in which the joint has degenerated over time, can cause pain and swelling around the joint. Rheumatoid arthritis, which is an autoimmune condition that attacks tissue in the joints and other parts of the body, also can result in joint pain. Other autoimmune and degenerative causes of joint pain include fibromyalgia, gout and psoriasis.

Infections are known to cause aching joints in some cases. Lyme disease, which may be contracted from a tick bite, can cause pain and swelling that mimics arthritis. If left untreated, the disease can result in long-term joint pain. Other infections that can cause joint pain include hepatitis, measles, rubella and syphilis.



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