Joint Pain

Table of contents



Joint pain is discomfort, pain or inflammation in the body’s joints and includes any part of the joint such as bone, cartilage, ligaments, tendons or muscles. Sometimes joint pain is caused by an illness or injury, or it could be from conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis.

Joint pain can range from mild to moderate from injury or overuse, through to severe, especially when moving or weight-bearing.

Joint discomfort is common and usually felt in the hands, feet, hips, knees, or spine. The pain experienced in the joints can vary. It can be acute or chronic, with patients often reporting a feeling of stiffness and aching or in other cases, a burning, throbbing sensation.


What causes joint pain?

There are many causes of joint pain such as fractures, tendinitis, osteoporosis, infection, and infectious diseases such as influenza and hepatitis.

Arthritis is a very common cause of joint pain. Osteoarthritis is common in adults over the age of 40 and causes joint pain due to a breakdown of the cartilage that cushions and absorbs pressure in a joint.

Rheumatoid Arthritis causes pain, inflammation, and fluid build-up in the joints.

Other potential causes of joint pain include gout, bursitis and tendinitis. Bursitis is caused by overuse and is common in active people and those that carry out repetitive tasks, either for work or recreation. Bursitis often affects the hip, knee, elbow or shoulder. Tendinitis is a similar condition that causes inflammation of the tendons, often from overuse.


What are the symptoms of joint pain?

Symptoms of joint pain range from mild to disabling. It is very common for people to carry on with their day-to-day activities when experiencing joint pain, however, this can make symptoms worse over time.

When pain starts to interfere with your day-to-day activities, it is important to see a healthcare professional. Doctors, physiotherapists and osteopaths can all help to diagnose the cause of the pain and put in place a treatment plan to relieve pain and maintain healthy, functioning joints.

Some of the more typical symptoms of joint pain include:

• Swelling
• Stiffness
• Clicking, grinding or crunching noises when moving the joint
• Pain when moving
• Difficulty bending or straightening the joint


Types of joint pain

There are multiple types of joint pains based on the location of the pain and the time the pain started. Some of these include;

Progressive pain

A pain that develops over time and is often accompanied by other symptoms.

Chronic pain

Lasts longer from within weeks to months and can be periodic.

Acute pain

Acute pain begins suddenly and is usually sharp in quality.


How can joint pain be treated?

Most joint pain can be managed at home with over-the-counter pain relief and rest. Cold therapy using ice packs on the joint for 15 minutes several times a day can help, or heat therapy can help to relax muscles and increase circulation if the cause of pain is muscular. Maintaining a healthy weight, staying physically active and stretching before activity can also help prevent joint pain.

You should seek advice from a health professional if your joint pain persists or is accompanied by redness, swelling, tenderness and is warm to the touch. If your joint pain is caused by a severe injury, the joint is deformed, you cannot move the joint or the pain is severe, you should seek medical help.

To diagnose your joint pain, a doctor will perform a physical exam and they’ll also ask a series of questions about your joint pain to help narrow down the potential causes.
Treatment options will depend on the cause of the pain. Early detection and diagnosis can allow for effective treatment of the underlying cause of your discomfort.

If necessary, the doctor may also order X-rays or blood tests. X-rays can show if there is joint deterioration, fluid in the joint, bone spurs, or other issues that may be contributing to the pain.

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