Many different conditions can lead to painful joints, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, bursitis, gout, strains, sprains, and other injuries. Joint pain is extremely common. In one national survey, about one-third of adults reported having joint pain within the past 30 days. Knee pain was the most common complaint, followed by shoulder and hip pain, but joint pain can affect any part of your body, from your ankles and feet to your shoulders and hands. As you get older, painful joints become increasingly more common.
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When joints lose their full range of motion due to stress, injury, or lack of activity, the “on-loading” and “off-loading” (the exchange of nutrients and waste products) to the cartilage is decreased and breakdown follows. As a result, balanced motion is hindered and the surrounding cartilage starves. The body responds to these biomechanical imbalances by sending calcium to impaired areas to stabilize the weak joint. This results in the formation of hard, inflexible calcium deposits, which cause joint stiffness.
Who is more likely to experience joint pain?
Joint pain tends to affects those who:
- Have had previous injuries to a joint
- Repeatedly use and/or overuse a muscle
- Have arthritis or other chronic medical conditions
- Suffer from depression, anxiety, and/or stress
- Are overweight
- Suffer from poor health
Age is also a factor in stiff and painful joints. After years of use, and wear and tear on joints, problems may arise in middle-aged or older adults.
Although there may not be a cure for the pain, it can be managed to bring the patient relief. Sometimes the pain may go away by taking over-the-counter medication, or by performing simple daily exercises. Other times, the pain may be signaling problems that can only be corrected with prescription medication or surgery.