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Joint Pain


Joint Pain

Joint Pain

Joint pain can be defined as soreness, discomfort, inflammation, stiffness or increased warmth in one or more joints in your body.  Joints connect two or more bones in the body. Examples of joints include the hip, knee, ankle, wrist, shoulder and elbow joints. Pain in the joint may be experienced with or without joint movement. Occasionally its severity is capable of demobilizing the joint.

The joint’s main purpose is allowing bone movement. Cartilage, tendons, ligaments, bursa and synovial membrane make up the joints. Bursa are fluid filled sacs that provide joint cushion.  The joint capsule lining or synovial membrane lubricates the joint through secretions of synovial fluid. All these structures that form the joint can be inflamed or irritated as a result of various diseases, conditions and disorders.

Most  joint pain  cases last for a short while. However any pain that continues for more than three months is described as chronic pain.  Abrupt pain in the joint that limits mobility may be a sign of a serious condition that may require early diagnosis. Early treatment is necessary to minimize the risks that may accompany such serious conditions. The correct diagnosis may also save you much discomfort.

Joint Pain Causes

Joint Pain

Joint Pain

Many diseases, injuries and conditions can cause  joint pain.  These can affect the bursa ligaments, tendons, bones and cartilage that comprise the joint. Pain can also result from arthritis or joint inflammation. Some rare tumors caused by infection can also be a source of severe pain.

Much pain and even immobilization of joints can also result from joint damage caused by injuries or disease.  Dislocations, bursitis, mild sprains in the muscle or ligament can all cause sudden joint pain. Bursitis is characterized by inflammation of the bursa or fluid filled sacs.

Conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, bone cancer or leukemia can be accompanied by chronic  joint pain as a major symptom.  Rheumatoid arthritis results from an autoimmune disorder that leads to pain and stiffness in the joints as a result of inflammation. Osteoarthritis features the degeneration of cartilages at the joint and bone spurs growth. This is a disease causing  joint pain in individuals older than 45 years.

The pain can be very bothersome irrespective of its cause. Gout, strains and other injuries can also cause severe pain. Other forms of arthritis that may lead to  joint pain  include Ankylosing spondylitis, septic arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, still’s disease and pseudo-gout.

Arthritis can be considered secondary to some main conditions or diseases. Such conditions include familial Mediterranean fever, inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, psoriatic arthritis, reactive arthritis and TNF receptor associated periodic syndrome. Undifferentiated arthritis can also be another such example.  This is a case that occurs when arthritis is still at an early stage. Other similar cases may fail to conform to well known clinical definitions or disease categories.

Joint pain  is a very common cause of visits to the hospital. Knee pain is the most rampant incident followed by shoulder pain and hip pain. Ankles and all other joints can suffer pain. The older we get, the more prone we become to having painful joints.

Lupus and  chondromalacia patella are some conditions that can result in pain in the joint. Some injuries that are a source of severe pain include fractures, tendinitis and osteomyelitis. Measles, Lyme disease, Varicella, (chicken pox) Mumps, rheumatic fever, Hepatitis, influenza, rubella, Epstein-Barr viral syndrome and rubella, (German measles) are all examples of infectious diseases that can cause  joint pain.  Other causes include joint overuse or exertion that may lead to strains or sprains.

Joint Pain Symptoms

Joint Pain

Joint Pain

Pressure, motion or activities that cause weight bearing resistance can all worsen your  pain. Inflammation, tenderness and local warmth are all associated with  joint pain. Varied levels of  pain, stiffness and inflammation in the joints are the universal symptoms for all kinds of arthritis. Occasionally these are accompanied by a persistent ache around the joints. Other symptoms may also be experienced in the case of lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

Weight loss, fever, insufficient sleep, pain and aches in the muscles and tenderness are common symptoms that accompany the pain in  joints. Fatigue or constant feeling of tiredness, difficulty in mobilizing the joint and inability to walk or utilize the hand are other possible symptoms. These may be accompanied by insufficient sleep.

In advanced arthritis, if an individual performs minimal physical activity, usually significant secondary changes will be experienced. Such changes may include loss of flexibility, feebleness or muscle weakness and diminished aerobic capacity or fitness. Joint pain  can result from such changes. These eventually have a negative impact on community development, social roles and other spheres of the individual’s  life.  If you experience pain for some days, inexplicable weight loss, fever and other unusual symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.

Joint Pain Treatment

Inflammation and any short term pain can have a negative effect on the quality of your life. Early symptoms diagnosis and treatment is crucial for  joint pain  management and alleviation of other symptoms. The goal of joint pain  treatment is to reduce swelling and pain while at the same time restoring your joint functions. Medication, alternative treatments and physical therapy are some available treatment options.

Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs): These drugs provide pain relief options for  joint pain ranging from moderate to debilitating pain. NSAIDs are a large class of medications that include ibuprofen, aspirin, acetaminophen, Aleve, Motrin, Advil and naproxen. The new generation of NSAIDs include COX-2 inhibitors like Vioxx Celebrex and Bextra.

These drugs may have some side effects that include risks of gastrointestinal bleeding. Apart from Celebrex, other COX inhibitors may increase cardiovascular risks like heart attack and stroke. Acetaminophen or Tylenol can be effective on milder pain that is devoid of swelling. Caution should be exercised with this drug especially if you take alcohol. It can damage your liver in case you take high doses.

Joint Pain

Joint Pain

Opioids Medications: If the severity of your pain transcends the effectiveness of NSAIDs and COX-2 inhibitors, you may get Opioid prescriptions from your doctor. These drugs should only be taken under the doctor’s supervision as they are likely to result in drowsiness. Constipation may also be another side effect of these drugs. Laxatives can be used to remedy this situation.

Capsaicin: This is a topical agent that is used to alleviate joint pain from arthritis and other conditions. Capsaicin is derived from chili peppers and is used to block substance P. Substance P aids in transmission of pain signals.

Capsaicin can also trigger the release of endorphins which are chemicals that block off pain. A stinging or burning sensation on the area of application is one side effect of capsaicin cream. Methyl-salicylate (Ben Gay) is another topical cream option for arthritis  joint pain.

Other medications that may relieve pain in the joints include muscle relaxants. These may be used in conjunction with NSAIDs to treat muscle contractions or spasms. Anti-epileptic and antidepressant medications are also effective in interfering with pain signals that lead to  joint pain.

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