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The Gout by James Gillray

Joint Pain: Here Are Some of the Likely Causes

Quick Facts About Joint Pain

  • Joint pain is otherwise referred to as arthralgia.
  • The condition can be caused by disease or injury of the adjacent tissues or the joint itself.
  • The area at which two ends of the bones meet to provide motion is called a joint.
  • The typical joint is made up of bones that are separated by the cartilage. The cartilage acts as cushioning pad and gliding surface for the articulating bones.

Likely Causes of Joint Pain

In essence, joint pain can pertain to the aches, soreness, and discomfort in any of the joints in the body. Joint pain is a common concern and typically does not require medical treatment.  However, sometimes, it can manifest as a result of injury.

Some of the likely causes of joint pain can include:

Arthritis

The inflammation of the joints is called arthritis. The condition can affect just one (monoarticular) or multiple (polyarticular) joints. Arthritis symptoms can typically develop over time but there are also cases when they appear suddenly. Arthritis is common among adults over 65 years of age. However, it can also develop in teens, younger adults, and even children. It is also more common among women.

Causes

The firm and smooth connective tissue found in the joints is called the cartilage. When there is a reduction in the normal amount of cartilage, some form of arthritis is likely to develop.

Treatment

The key goals of arthritis treatment include minimizing pain and preventing further joint damage. Improving joint function is also given priority. In some cases, a combination of treatment methods (medications, physical therapy, and surgery) may be recommended to achieve the best result.

Gout

The general term used for a variety of conditions caused by uric acid buildup is called gout. The buildup often affects the lower limbs, especially the big toe, knee and ankle. Pain and swelling in the joints of the foot are typical symptoms of the condition. Intense and sudden pain (also referred to as gout attacks) is likened to the foot being “on fire.”

Causes

Gout is a complex condition. Various factors are believed to play a role in the development of gout. Certain conditions like metabolism and blood disorders may cause the body to produce too much uric acid. Gout can also be attributed to the inability of the body to eliminate uric acid due to the lack of a certain enzyme and may run in males of the same family.

Treatment

Treatment approach will often depend on the severity of the condition. Aside from medications (NSAIDs, corticosteroids, anti-gout medications), lifestyle changes (reducing alcohol intake, quitting smoking, losing the excess pounds, etc.) might also be recommended to help manage the condition and minimize gout attacks.

Tendinitis

The thick cords that connect the muscles to the joints are called tendons. Tendinitis develops when the tendons become inflamed or irritated. The condition can cause tenderness and acute pain. While any tendon in the body can develop tendinitis, it has been observed to occur more frequently in the elbow, heel, shoulder, and wrist. Tendinitis may also be called pitchers shoulder, golfer’s (or tennis) elbow, jumper’s knee, and swimmer’s shoulder.

Causes

Repetitive action is identified as the most likely cause of the condition. Tendinitis can also be a result of:

  • Aging
  • Injury
  • Certain conditions (i.e. rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes)

Treatment

The main goals of tendinitis treatment include minimising both the inflammation and the pain. Mild cases will often respond to basic home remedies (medications, resting, stretching, wrapping, etc.). However, for severe cases, other treatment recommendations can include:

Corticosteroid injections
Braces, splints, or cane
Physical therapy
Surgery

Ankylosing Spondylitis

The form of arthritis that primarily affects the spine is called ankylosing spondylitis. The condition causes severe vertebrae inflammation that results to chronic pain and even disability.

Causes

The cause of ankylosing spondylitis is still unknown. However, it has been observed that the condition often runs in families so genetics is believed to play a role. The gene HLA-B27 can be tested to confirm this disease. Individuals whose siblings or parents have ankylosing spondylitis are 10 to 20 times more likely to be diagnosed with the condition compared to their counterparts who have no family history of the disease. Symptoms of the condition can vary. However, one of the most common symptoms is back pain. Some people also experience pain in the large joints (i.e. shoulders and hips). Other prevalent symptoms can include:

  • Stiffness (especially noticeable in the mornings)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Anemia
  • Low grade fever

Treatment

To date, there is no cure for the condition. Treatment intervention will focus on managing pain and ensuring further disability is prevented. Physiotherapy and exercise prescription is important for long-term function. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (naproxen, indomethacin, salazopyrin etc.) are often given to manage the inflammation and pain. When there is little to zero pain relief from medications, stronger medications will be given. Physical therapy may also be recommended to help maintain range of motion and flexibility. Applying heat can also help reduce soreness and pain. If there is severe damage or knee or hip joint deformity, surgery might be required.

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