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The Top Joint Pain Causes & Cures

Updated on August 7, 2020
stephhicks68 profile image

As I age, I notice pain in my fingers, my shoulders and knees. After consulting with doctors, I found there are common causes and cures

Joint Pain Affects Quality of Life

It is an unfortunate fact of life: as we age, our bodies simply do not work as well as they used to.

Among the most common ailments of the aging population is joint pain.

The term "aging" is not limited to those in their "Golden Years." People as young as 30 may start to experience joint pain, whether due to heredity, disease, obesity or the repetitive motions of a job or sports activity.

Although I'm only in my 40s, I have had chronic joint pain in my knee for years, the result of a gymnastics injury more than 30 years ago! I have also been treated for joint pain in my shoulder, with a diagnosis of bursitis resulting from overuse. Recently, I have noticed arthritic pain starting to affect the joints in my fingers. This one I can blame on heredity; my mother's fingers have become quite swollen and stiff over the years due to Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Fortunately, in most cases, mild joint pain is not serious. Factors your doctor will consider in diagnosing and treating depend on the severity of the pain, whether there is swelling/inflammation, heredity, whether the pain restricts movement or not, and whether you have a fever or other symptoms.

Any joint pain that persists for more than one week, or is severe, should be evaluated by a doctor. Sudden joint pain may be due to a muscle or ligament sprain, bursitis, or a dislocation. Chronic joint pain can be a symptom of serious and even life-threatening conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, leukemia, or bone cancer.

Depending on the cause of joint pain, treatment and cures may range from dietary supplements to non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, to prescription medication. Physical therapy and exercise may help, as well. In rare cases, treatment of an underlying disease (e.g., Lyme Disease, measles, Hepatitus) is required to resolve joint pain. Surgery also may be necessary in some circumstances, if other, non-invasive treatment methods do not bring relief.

Be sure to consult your medical professional as soon as possible when symptoms appear so that more serious causes of joint pain can be ruled out.

Joint pain in your knee?
Joint pain in your knee? | Source

1. Joint Pain Due to Injury and/or Overuse

Two of the most common joint pain causes across all ages are injury and overuse.

Often, people get injured at work or playing sports, but even walking down the stairs can result in a twisted ankle, resulting in pain and inflammation. Overuse injuries may occur due to even the most menial repetitive movements, such as typing on a computer, or even sitting in an improper position.

Traumatic injuries are usually the result of a single event, after which use of the joint is painful and/or difficult. On the other hand, joint pain resulting from overuse can sneak up over time. For example, "tennis elbow" or "runner's knee" are common ways of describing certain repetitive, overuse injuries affecting the joints.

When my shoulder pain was diagnosed, the doctor stated that I was suffering from bursitis - inflammation in the tissue surrounding the joint, due to overuse. The inflammation made the joint sore and stiff, limiting the movement of my arm.

Joint Pain Cures for Injury/Overuse

  • Ice and rest
  • Over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDs)
  • Prescription anti-inflammatory medication
  • Dietary supplements (Omega-3, glucosamine and chondroitin)
  • Physical therapy/occupational therapy/specialized exercises
  • Cortisone injections
  • Chiropractor treatments
  • Surgery

Hip Pain Due to Injury or Overuse

2. Joint Pain Due to Arthritis

As we age, our bodies start to break down. Not all of us will develop a form of arthritis (there are over 100 conditions categorized as arthritis), but for those of us that do, joint pain due to arthritis is a common ailment suffered by aging people.

As joint structures deteriorate and become inflamed and swollen, pain results. In fact, "arthritis" is a term created by combining the Greek word arthron , for "joint" and the Latin suffix -itis , for "inflammation."

Because there are so many different types of arthritis, a medical diagnosis is necessary to determine proper treatment. This is because various types of arthritis will affect your joints in a different manner.

Generally, osteoarthritis is most commonly known, and is a condition where the cartilage that covers the "head" of each connecting bone has worn down, affecting movement and causing pain and inflammation.

On the other hand, rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune disease whereby the body attacks itself (like my Type 1 diabetes), killing off cells that create necessary fluid surrounding the joint.

Over 45 million Americans suffer from some form of arthritis. It is the leading cause of chronic pain in people over the age of 55.

Joint Pain Cures for Arthritis

  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Diet and exercise
  • Ice or heat packs
  • Dietary supplements
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDs - over the counter)
  • Aspirin

Various prescription drugs, depending on underlying arthritic condition including, but not limited to:

  • COX-2 Inhibitors
  • Glucocorticoids (anti-inflammatory steroids)
  • Sulfasalazine
  • Cyclosporine
  • Azathioprine

Causes of Arthritis

3. Joint Pain Due to Diet and/or Obesity

Actually, underlying joint pain is often due to arthritis or other medical conditions (described below). But treating joint pain can be more effective if you improve your diet and/or lose weight.

Obviously, carrying excess pounds on our frames adds stress to already painful joints. Depending on your weight, age, sex and other factors, your doctor can recommend a healthy weight-loss goal and plan for you to help cure joint pain. Even taking off 5-10 pounds can have a significant impact on painful hips, knees, ankles, and joints in the feet.

In order to both help you lose weight and treat joint pain with natural remedies, a diet lower in sugar and fatty foods is advised.

Replacing chips, fried foods, cream and cheese with fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains and foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish and grass fed organic beef) is a great first step toward relieving joint pain.

Be sure to watch food portion sizes, as well!

Dietary Supplements to Address Joint Pain

Dietary Supplements May help Treat or Prevent Joint Pain

4. Joint Pain Due to Fibromyalgia

A diagnosis of fibromyalgia can be confusing because the symptoms of the disease are similar to those of arthritis and other conditions. That is why persistent joint pain requires a visit to the doctor to determine if you are suffering from fibromyalgia.

Among other symptoms, you may experience muscle pain, extreme tiredness, and points that are tender to the touch.

If you have fibromyalgia, you may have been misdiagnosed with arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome or depression.

A rheumatologist will examine and diagnose you appropriately. Blood tests are usually required to rule out conditions including arthritis, thyroid disease, lupus, and muscle or nerve disorders.

Prescription medications are available to treat fibromyalgia such as Cymbalta and Lyrica. Your doctor may also suggest diet and lifestyle changes to improve quality of life.

Joint Pain due to Fibromyalgia

5. Joint Pain Due to Illness and/or Disease

Joint pain may also be the result of an infection or underlying disease other than arthritis or fibromyalgia.

One of the most common joint pain causes in this regard is Lyme Disease. Other potential illnesses and diseases that can result in stiff and sore joints include the flu, hepatitis, bone infection (Osteomyelitis) and septic/infectious arthritis. In rare cases, bone cancer may be the cause of joint pain.

If you have persistent pain in your joints, along with one or more of these additional factors: swelling, burning, fever, nausea, numbness, joint deformation, aching and/or weak muscles, do not hesitate in seeking immediate medical attention. A proper diagnosis is necessary to treat the underlying cause of joint pain and prevent potential complications.

Do You Suffer from Joint Pain?

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2012 Stephanie Marshall


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    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I recently saw an ad in my local newspaper for Joint Aid Plus. Has anyone else tried this?

    • lex123 profile image


      8 years ago

      I do suffer from joint pains, but now under control. Interesting hub.

    • stephhicks68 profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Marshall 

      8 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      That is so interesting. I need to try the Horsetail for my shoulder pain, I think!

    • akeejaho profile image


      8 years ago from Some where in this beautiful world!

      Nice Hub. A lot of very useful things here. I just recently injured my shoulder, and though it is healing, (but not as fast as I'd like) I suppose I can't complain. At least it doesn't keep me up at night like it used to. Oh, and yes, Horsetail does work. Whodathunk?

    • stephhicks68 profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Marshall 

      8 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Thanks Bill! Ironically, since I published this hub, I have started to have shoulder pain again, in the same shoulder. I hope you are able to stay active and healthy. I'm sure that getting out and about helps! Best to you, Steph

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      8 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Very informative and well-written. I have been blessed, Steph, and although sixty-three now I suffer none of these symptoms....yet! I'll cross my fingers, stay active and hope for the best. Great hub my friend!

    • stephhicks68 profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Marshall 

      8 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Wow! That is so interesting! Love it when something has an additional side benefit. What a cool discovery. Thanks for sharing that here, Sinea. Best, Steph

    • Sinea Pies profile image

      Sinea Pies 

      8 years ago from Northeastern United States

      I was very surprised to accidentally discover that Horsetail herb (also called Silica) reduces joint pain. I was taking it to improve the growth of my nails but realized that my joints weren't aching like they had. The guy at the vitamin store assured me that I wasn't imaginging it. Horsetail is an anti-inflammatory! Who would have thought! :)

    • stephhicks68 profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Marshall 

      8 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Thanks Patty - I find that my "gymnastics knee" locks up when I drive for long distances, and sometimes at the movie theater. I agree that exercise really helps keep things pliable and less painful. Thanks much, Steph

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish MS 

      8 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      I sprained a knee on a trampoline at age 19 and it used to just lock up when I sat for a long period of time. I found that regular exercise has always kept that from happening. It's nice to be able to walk. Thanks for the Hub. Rated up and more.

    • stephhicks68 profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Marshall 

      8 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Thanks Simone! Stay pain-free. :-) Best, Steph

    • stephhicks68 profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Marshall 

      8 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Thanks incomeguru - exercise does seem to help joint pain in most instances (except where it is the result of an injury). Appreciate the vote. Best to you, Steph

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      8 years ago from San Francisco

      Yikes! I've never suffered from joint pain, and hadn't realized there could be so many different causes. Great Hub!

    • incomeguru profile image

      Oyewole Folarin 

      8 years ago from Lagos

      I do experience joint pain each time i over-stressed myself, like sitting in the studio for 8 hours or more. Later i consulted a physiotherapist who suggested i should exercise to keep my body fit and to prevent further pains. A very useful hub, voted up!

    • stephhicks68 profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Marshall 

      8 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Hi Pamela, I'm glad that you are finding some relief from medications and supplements. I have another friend with Lupus - she has good days and not so good days with respect to her joint pain and stiffness too. Best, Steph

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      8 years ago from Sunny Florida

      I have lupus arthritis (one of the lupus symptoms) and osteoarthritis. I have been on a myriad of medication over the years. However, I take calcium, plus the combination glucasamin/chondrotin/MSM you have listed above. I have found this combinations has definitely lowered the intensity of my pain but it took about two months of taking it consistently. This is an excellent, informative hub, as so many people suffer from some type of joint pain.

    • stephhicks68 profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Marshall 

      8 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Wow Lisa! That is really interesting and helpful! I have seen where people have mistaken muscle weakness or pain as an issue with a bone, and through physical therapy for running injuries, I have immediately seen that strengthening muscles helps address pain in other, more remote parts of the body.

      Your point about stress is also a good one. I have Type 1 diabetes (another auto-immune disease) and have seen how stress impacts my blood sugar levels significantly. It also interferes with healing.

      Thanks for such a great comment - cheers, Steph

    • stephhicks68 profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Marshall 

      8 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Hi wordscribe, I am so sorry to hear about your ordeal! Funny how we'd like to believe that arthritis is something you don't get until you're in your 60s or 70s, huh? I hope you get to the rheumatologist for more answers. The "frozen shoulder" is what they said I had at first, too. Then another doctor said it was bursitis. I couldn't even raise my arm over my head to get dressed. Fortunately, it was short-lived for me.

      Take good care! Steph

    • Lisa HW profile image

      Lisa HW 

      8 years ago from Massachusetts

      I don't know if any of this will be at all encouraging or help in some small way to anyone, but here goes...

      My mother had Rheumatoid Arthritis in her early fifties, and my kids' father has it as a result of having another kind of immune system disorder. Rheumatoid Arthritis can be made worse by stress, so I think one important thing is that people who have it (or are at higher risk of developing it) develop some really good coping skills for stress. My ex-husband is someone who's very much like my mother was in a lot of ways. (Different genes, of course; which makes me really wonder about "same-personality-traits" thing a little more.)

      I'm going to be 60 in a couple of weeks, and - knock on wood - I feel the same now as I did at 18 with one exception, and that is that I did a major leg injury two years ago, and it's still finishing up getting back to good as new. It's close but not there yet. It does bother me, but the pain isn't usually in the joint these days. It's where there was ligament and other damage.

      BUT, I fractured a few different leg bones (one kneecap twice) and severely fractured a hand and fingers over 35 years ago (two different accidents); and although the hand remains a little tender to this day, the arthritis that I was told appeared to have developed seemed to "go away". Go figure. :/ With that double-whammy patella fracture, I was told there was a good chance I'd need a fake kneecap at around 35. Instead, everything went back to good as new after five and eight years after the injuries.

      The major leg injury happened when I was 57; and the knee is back to being as flexible as ever. Neither injuries nor age "have to" always lead to permanent joint pain. One thing that I know fended off arthritis in that "good" leg (the one without the major injury but that was fractured twice) was to use the muscles around the joint for things like stairs, rather than do what's more nature, which is to put all the stress and "work requirement" on the actual joint. Actually, since the better leg got the big injury I've had to make the twice-fractured one do all the work. I've been concerned that I'd "get it going", but it has become stronger than it's been since I was 20 (the second time I fractured it).

      Sometimes what it is interpreted as joint pain is really pain the muscles around the joint, when the muscles have become atrophied and then first start being used again. So, keeping the muscles around the joints active and strong can not only help prevent injury, but can mean not having some types of pain around the joint when one does moves in a way he's not accustomed to doing.

    • wordscribe43 profile image

      Elsie Nelson 

      8 years ago from Pacific Northwest, USA

      Great hub, Steph! I'm an arthritis sufferer even though I'm only 44. Sadly, I've been dealing with it for over a decade now. It seems to run rampant in our family- doggone genetics, I tell you. I won't bore you with the details, but it only continues to spread. I have some awful shoulder thing going on now. Of course, the XRays showed osteoarthritis... afterwards I was diagnosed with Adhesive Capsulitis (also called Frozen Shoulder). I've been dealing with this since Christmas. Strange thing... it's moved into my other shoulder now. I'm so over MRI's, surgeries, etc... that I'm just pretending it's not there. LOL... I'm almost afraid of what they'd find in an MRI.

      I have found exercise to be the best method for pain and swelling reduction. And preventative measures. Once I'm in a full blown "attack" I can't seem to shed the pain. Anyway, I feel like I'm in my 70's some days, it's really depressing.

      You present a lot of great information here. I sometimes think it's time for a trip to the rheumatologist...

    • stephhicks68 profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Marshall 

      8 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Hi teaches, I have watched my mother really struggle with her painful arthritis, and my heart goes out to anyone with such significant joint pain. I know that, personally, my knee and shoulder are bad enough. As my grandfather used to say, "getting old ain't for sissies!" ;-) Cheers, Steph

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      8 years ago

      I do have some minor joint pain and am using natural methods to work through the soreness. Really great hub article with working suggestions. This is one item that is up front on the list of ailments today. Thanks for sharing. Voted up!


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