Joint pain is no fun. A simple strain to any joint and life can be greatly affected. It’s true to say that people don’t really consider the prospect of injury or pain until it occurs. Health is often taken for granted but where joint pain occurs, life can change in an instant. Mobility is affected, and pain can be overwhelming. But sometimes, there may be more serious reasons as to why joints are painful or aching.
Seeking medical advice makes sense, certainly, when niggling pains do not go away. Weight-bearing joints are often easy to damage and if starting up a new exercise regime, it’s easy to consider that this may be the reason for pain. They may be caused by over-stretching the joint, twisting awkwardly or through wear and tear. When not preparing the body with a warm-up or, if doing too much too soon, injury can easily occur although will usually be minor. Doctors will consider any damage to the joint, any changes to lifestyle or, other reasons which may indicate why a joint could be hurting such as osteoarthritis which is common.
Although many aches and pains in the joint will not be serious, there are considerations which include:
- Septic arthritis – this can occur if a cut or puncture wound near to the joint occurs and if not cleaned sufficiently, the joint becomes infected. There may be fever, chills and swelling and pain of the joint. Typically, knees are commonly affected but it could also occur with the hips, wrists, and ankles too. Septic arthritis must be treated.
- Gout – this may occur when too much protein is eaten, and the body then produces a large amount of uric acid. Drinking too much alcohol can also cause a flare-up of gout. It’s potentially one of the most painful types of arthritic pain. It tends to occur in the big toe joint but can easily spread to other joints. Pain is extensive and there will be noticeable heat, redness, and inflammation.
- Lupus – affects the immune system and will target the joints as well as other areas of the body. Symptoms will vary but can include breathing problems, dry eyes, and memory issues.
- Lyme disease – this is where a tick creates a serious infection of the bloodstream. Fatigue, fever, rashes, headaches are likely to occur first but left untreated and it can affect the neck, hands, and feet.
- Rheumatoid arthritis may be well-known, but it is an auto-immune disease that appears to affect women more than men. Fatigue, weight-loss, and fever are common along with swollen joints and varying degrees of joint stiffness first thing in the morning. This is a disease that cannot be cured but must be treated.
Sometimes, joint pain can even appear to flare up when the weather is cold or damp especially when joint pain is regularly experienced. It’s long been believed that changes of weather can affect rheumatism although recent studies by Harvard Medical School has found no evidence for this.
“No matter how we looked at the data, we didn’t see any correlation between rainfall and physician visits for joint pain or back pain,” said Jena, the Ruth L. Newhouse Associate Professor of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School and an internist at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Irrespective of this, joint pain, inflammation or swelling should not be ignored. It can be indicative of some serious and degenerative joint diseases that can affect health and well-being generally. Medical intervention may not be able to cure some arthritic conditions but there are always treatment options which can help to reduce any degeneration to the joint and will reduce pain. It is even possible to regenerate the tissue and bone using stem cells. Treatment must be about the quality of life and for the individual to be able to live as normally as possible. This means considering all options including pain management.