Read below about joint pain, including causes, treatment options and remedies. Or get a personalized analysis of your joint pain from our A.I. health assistant. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

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Joint Pain Symptoms

Some say youth is wasted on the young. If you're currently suffering from joint pain symptoms, you probably agree. Those with youthful joints that don't ache or slow them down don't appreciate how lucky they are. If you're struggling to complete tasks that were once simple because of pain in your knees, ankles, wrists, fingers, or elbows, joint pain could be to blame.

Do you identify with any of these common joint pain symptoms?

  • Pain, swelling, or stiffness
  • Locked-up joints
  • Difficulty bending
  • Trouble with activities that were once easy
  • Discomfort that causes you concern

Joint pain symptoms can start in any part of a joint, such as the cartilage, ligaments, tendons, bone, or muscles. The discomfort can be mild and only appear during strenuous activity or it can be classified as severe. If this is the case, you might experience joint pain symptoms even when not moving, and the smallest actions can be nearly impossible to complete.

Joint Pain Causes Overview

Joint pain symptoms are associated with a multitude of conditions.

  • Arthritis: Joint pain is the main symptom of arthritis, a condition that causes stiffness and pain throughout the joints. There are different variations of arthritis which affect different parts of the body.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: This is an inflammatory condition that requires the care of a specialist, called a rheumatologist to manage.
  • Lyme Disease: This tick-borne illness can cause pain and swelling in the knees or other joints. Antibiotic therapy often improves this.
  • Viral infections: Mononucleosis and other viral infections can cause many side effects, including joint pain.
  • Gout: This is a disorder where uric acid crystals deposit in the joints – often the big toe – and create redness, warmth and swelling.
  • Septic arthritis: This is an infection in a joint and is an emergency that needs prompt therapy.
  • Fibromyalgia: The bad news is that fibromyalgia can cause joint and muscle pain. The good news is that it won't cause long-term or permanent damage to joints like arthritis can.
  • Menopause: Joint pain is common in menopausal women. The joints can begin to ache, stiffen up, or swell due to hormonal imbalances.

6 Potential Joint Pain Causes

Disclaimer: The article does not replace an evaluation by a physician. Information on this page is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes.

  1. 1.Mononucleosis Infection

    EBV Mononucleosis is a clinical syndrome characterized by fever, sore throat, and swollen lymph nodes.

    2-3 weeks

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, headache, loss of appetite, abdominal pain (stomach ache), cough
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  2. 2.Chronic Hepatitis c

    Hepatitis C is an infection of the liver by the hepatitis C virus (HCV) that is carried in human blood. It spreads through contact with infected blood, such as through infected needles, toothbrushes, or razors, through unprotected sex with an infected person, and from mother to baby during childbirth.

    Hepatitis C is a chronic infection and without treatment the effect on life expectancy is difficult to predict.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, nausea, muscle aches, loss of appetite, joint pain
    Symptoms that never occur with chronic hepatitis c:
    pain in the lower right abdomen, pain in the lower left abdomen, pain in the upper left abdomen, pain around the belly button
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  3. 3.Depression

    Depression is a mental disorder in which a person feels constantly sad, hopeless, discouraged, and loses interest in activities and life on more days than not. These symptoms interfere with daily life, work, and friendships.

    Depression's course is highly variable, and it may last weeks, months, or years.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, depressed mood, headache, anxiety, irritability
    Symptoms that always occur with depression:
    depressed mood
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

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  4. 4.Rheumatoid Arthritis

    Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a form of arthritis that causes pain, swelling, stiffness and loss of function in your joints. It can affect any joint but is common in the wrist and fingers. RA is an autoimmune disorder, meaning that it is caused by the immune system incorrectly attacking the joints when it shouldn't.

    RA is a chronic disease which requires lifelong control.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, depressed mood, joint pain, muscle aches, daytime sleepiness
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  5. 5.Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

    Chronic fatigue syndrome is a disease that causes unexplained fatigue that does not improve with rest.

    Chronic fatigue syndrome is a life-long condition.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, difficulty concentrating, severe fatigue, trouble sleeping, impaired social or occupational functioning
    Symptoms that always occur with chronic fatigue syndrome:
    fatigue, impaired social or occupational functioning
    Symptoms that never occur with chronic fatigue syndrome:
    mild fatigue, fever
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  6. 6.Sarcoidosis

    Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease that most often affects the lungs and skin, but can als affect the joints.

    This condition has a broad range of severity. It often goes away on its own over time but some cases can cause permanent damage.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, headache, shortness of breath, loss of appetite, joint pain
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

Joint Pain Treatments and Relief

Even if your joint pain is manageable with rest or over-the-counter medication, there might be another way to treat or possibly cure the condition.

The following joint pain symptoms necessitate a trip to the doctor's office for further evaluation.

  • Joint pain symptoms that last for three consecutive days or more
  • Extreme difficulty walking or moving around
  • Extreme swelling, heat, or redness on the skin above the joint

Here are a few joint pain treatments you can try today.

  • Pain Medication: Both over-the-counter and prescribed pain medication can help alleviate some of the discomfort from joint pain. Acetaminophen and ibuprofen are some of the best options.
  • Heat and Cold Treatments: Use a heat pack on the affected area for 20 minutes. Immediately follow with a cold pack for an additional 20 minutes. Do this every day for mild joint pain symptoms.
  • Exercise: Though it may seem counterproductive, moving painful joints can help alleviate discomfort. Just make sure you're doing low impact exercises, like swimming.
  • Lose Weight: If you're considered overweight, shedding a few excess pounds can make a difference in your joint pain.

FAQs About Joint Pain

Here are some frequently asked questions about joint pain.

Can joint pain be caused by vitamin deficiency?

Yes, joint pain can be caused by vitamin D deficiency. Prolonged vitamin C deficiency can also soften bones and cause limited joint pain. Vitamin D helps regulate the amount of calcium you absorb and excrete through your urine. If you are not either making (via exposure to sunlight) or consuming enough vitamin D in your diet (in fortified foods like cereals and milk), then your body may not keep calcium as well as it normally would and you may have weakened bones and joint pain.

What diseases causes joint pain?

Many diseases cause joint pain. The most common causes of joint pain are arthritis, trauma, and inflammation either because of an infection or because of a hyperactive immune system. The most dangerous causes include different types of cancer and insufficient thyroid hormone.

What causes inflammation in joints?

Inflammation in joints can be caused by many things. If pathogens, viral particles, or foreign particles (dirt, glass) enter a joint space, they can cause inflammation. Additionally, sometimes the body reacts to its own chemicals (autoimmune illnesses) causing inflammation within joint spaces. Anti-inflammatory agents, antimicrobial agents to treat viruses or pathogens, and immunomodulators drugs (biologics) can be used to treat these problems respectively.

What causes severe joint pain?

Severe joint pain can be caused by inflammation that causes swelling within the joint and stretching of the joint capsule, destruction of the end of the bone or cartilage, and abrasion between the ends of the bone.

Is moderate joint pain an early sign of arthritis?

Moderate joint pain can be a sign of arthritis. Arthritis can be caused by different processes in the body. Early arthritis can feel like joint pain with certain movements. Usually these movements are predictable and the pain is elicited commonly by these movements. High impact activities like jumping or running can also cause pain. Moderate arthritis involves a more constant pain sensation that begins to limit daily activities and cause stiffness at times. Severe arthritis often involves dull/aching pain and episodes of intense fatiguing pain.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Joint Pain

  • Q.Any fever today or during the last week?
  • Q.Have you lost your appetite recently?
  • Q.Have you been feeling more tired than usual, lethargic or fatigued despite sleeping a normal amount?
  • Q.Are you experiencing a headache?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, try our joint pain symptom checker to find out more.

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Joint Pain Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced joint pain have also experienced:

    • 10% Muscle Aches
    • 8% Fatigue
    • 4% Headache
  • People who have experienced joint pain had symptoms persist for:

    • 47% Over a Month
    • 20% Less Than a Week
    • 16% Less Than a Day
  • People who have experienced joint pain were most often matched with:

    • 7% Depression
    • 4% Mononucleosis Infection
    • 4% Chronic Hepatitis c
  • Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

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