Definition of joint pain
Joint pain is discomfort that arises from any joint — the point where two or more bones meet. Joint pain is sometimes called arthritis or arthralgia. Joint pain can be mild, causing some soreness each time you move your joint. Or joint pain can be severe, making it impossible to use your joint. Joint pain is rarely an emergency. Most cases of mild joint pain can be successfully managed at home.
Causes of joint pain
Causes of joint pain include:
- Adult Still’s disease
- Ankylosing spondylitis
- Avascular necrosis
- Bone cancer
- Broken bone
- Complex regional pain syndrome
- Hypothyroidism (a thyroid disorder)
- Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis
- Lyme disease
- Paget’s disease of bone
- Psoriatic arthritis
- Reactive arthritis
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Septic arthritis
- Sprains and strains
When to see a doctor
Make an appointment with your doctor if your joint pain is accompanied by:
- Tenderness and warmth around the joint
See a doctor immediately if your joint pain is caused by an injury and is accompanied by:
- Joint deformity
- Inability to use the joint
- Intense pain
- Sudden swelling
When caring for mild joint pain at home, follow these tips:
- Try an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or naproxen sodium (Aleve).
- Avoid using your joint in ways that cause or worsen pain.
- Apply an ice pack to your painful joint for 15 to 20 minutes a few times each day.