It has been estimated that more than 40 million Americans have joint pain, also called arthralgia, of one kind or another. Joint pain occurs where two bones meet. The most common areas of joint pain are the knees, ankles, wrists, and knuckles, although it can occur at any joint. While there are common causes of joint pain, many people do not know what those causes are.
– Physical injury is one of the most common causes of joint pain. Normally this occurs when a joint is twisted or there is heavy impact on the joint. You may also see joint injury related to sprains or strains. Torn tendons, overstretched ligaments and bone fractures can also affect joints. Whenever joints are dislocated, pain will also be present.
– Overuse can also be the cause of joint pain. The condition chondromalacia patella, which is the degeneration of cartilage under the kneecap, is something adolescents and young adults may experience.
– Arthritis is what most people think of when anyone mentions joint pain. There are around 100 forms of arthritis. The two most common – osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis – affect nearly 20 million people each year. Other forms of arthritis are gout, septic and reactive.
– Sarcoidosis and Lupus, both autoimmune diseases, affect the joints. Lupus causes inflammation in the joints but can also affect the blood cells, kidneys, lungs, heart and skin. Sarcoidosis is the growth of small lumps, called granulomas, which can occur throughout the body. Common areas affected are the lungs and lymph nodes but doctors at the May Clinic believe this condition also causes joint pain in the hands, wrists, elbows, and ankles.
– Chronic illnesses or infectious diseases such as Lyme disease, measles, mumps, rheumatic fever, and Epstein-Barr can also affect joints. Rubella, or German measles, chickenpox, and mononucleosis can also cause joint pain even though that is not the main effect of the disease.
– Rickets, which is from a lack of vitamin D, is another cause of joint pain. This disease is not as common in the United States as in other parts of the world but can cause joint pain or bone softness.
– Bursitis and tendonitis are also conditions affecting the joints. Bursitis, caused by swelling of the bursae found between the tendons and skin, can cause severe pain, especially when a person is active. Tendonitis, which is inflammation of the tendons connecting bones and muscles, also causes painful joints. This commonly affects the tendons in the heel, shoulder or wrists.
– Osteoporosis, where the bones become porous, can also cause joint pain.
– Bone cancer, the growth of abnormal cells in the bones, may either originate in the bone itself or spread to them. In either case, the pain associated with bone cancer can be excruciating.
If you experience joint pain, you may not know the cause. This is why visiting your primary physician is so important. They will be able to determine the cause of your joint pain and prescribe ways for you treat it so your joint pain does not adversely affect your life.