What is Joint Pain?
Joint pain refers to discomfort arising out of any tissues within your joint including ligaments, cartilage, bone, muscles, or tendons. It can be felt in many parts of your body and is most common in knees, hands, feet, hips and spine. It can feel slightly stiff and sore while moving and doing any other activity.
What are the Causes of Muscle and Joint Pain?
Some of the common causes of muscle and joint pain include:
Overuse: When your joints go through repetitive trauma it can result in tendonitis or a stress fracture. This happens if you do too much physical activity too quickly in one training session. Exercising for too long can also lead to injuries. Additionally, doing exercises the wrong way can also lead to joint pain. Things such as poor form, incorrect movement and speed can overload certain joints and cause an injury.
Arthritis: Arthritis is one of the most common causes of joint pain, primarily osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. The first is the result of the breakdown of cartilage, and the second is due to the deformation and debilitation of joints over time. Arthritis, if not attended to by a joint pain specialist, can become worse over time.
- Joint inflammation: Joint inflammation occurs when a tissue has been damaged and releases chemicals that cause swelling and pain in the joint. The joint may feel hot and the pain is likely to intensify with inflammation.
- Sprains and Strains: A sprain occurs when the ligament has stretched too much, and can even cause a tear, and happens mostly on the ankle. However, a strain is where the muscles or tendons are overstretched or torn. The most common areas people have strains are the hamstring muscle and the lower back. Swelling occurs in both cases.
Other than these common causes, people often experience joint pain due to tension in the joints, injuries, infections.
What Types of Medical Conditions Cause Muscle and Joint Pain?
Some of the common conditions associated with muscle and joint pain include:
- Bacterial and viral infections.
- Autoimmune disorders such as polymyositis, dermatomyositis, or lupus.
- Use of medications such as ACE inhibitors or statins.
- Hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism.
- Infectious diseases such as influenza, mumps, or hepatitis.
- Arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
- Lyme disease.
- Polymyalgia rheumatica.
What are the Symptoms Commonly Associated with Muscle and Joint Pain?
The area around the joint can become swollen, red, tender, or warm to touch. Some people experience locking of the joints, stiffness and limping while walking. The pain can persist for a few days. However, if it persists for more than 3-5 days and if you start experiencing a fever, it’s best to go to a joint pain doctor to get yourself examined.
How is the Underlying Cause of Your Muscle and Joint Pain Diagnosed?
A joint pain doctor will review your symptoms and medical history and perform a physical examination. If necessary, they will order certain diagnostic tests like X-rays to identify arthritis-specific joint damage, blood tests to screen for certain autoimmune diseases, complete blood count, sedimentation rate test to estimate the level of inflammation in the body, and other tests to narrow down the potential causes of muscle and joint pain. It is preferable to get a physical exam by a joint pain specialist instead of practising home treatment.
Diagnosis of Back Pain
A back pain doctor will diagnose the pain by reviewing your history and symptoms and examining your spine. A complete examination includes the examination of the signs of unusual curves of the spine, rib hump, tilted pelvis and tilting of the shoulders, and a test of your sensations. Other diagnostic tests may be needed to confirm the diagnosis.
How is Muscle and Joint Pain Treated?
Some of the measures that can be employed to treat muscle and joint pain include:
- Using medications such as topical pain relievers and oral anti-inflammatory drugs can be very helpful.
- Application of heat and ice on the affected area.
- Adequate resting of the affected area
- Strengthening muscle function and maintaining a good range of motion with a regular exercise regimen.
- Maintaining a proper body weight.
- Engaging in stress-relieving activities such as meditation and yoga.
- Lifestyle changes.
When Should You Consult a Doctor for Muscle and Joint Pain?
If you experience severe pain without a clear cause then it can be of concern. Generally, pain that is accompanied by an elevated temperature, by a rash, by redness or swelling, that does not resolve despite several days of home treatment and pain that manifests after a tick bite, are clear signs to go visit a joint pain doctor. Even if you have had joint pain regularly while doing activities, and several episodes of pain interspersed in the month, seek attention from a joint pain specialist.
When To See A Doctor?
If you’ve tried the above treatments and the pain still doesn’t go away, you will need to see a joint pain doctor. Other symptoms that are a cause for concern are intense pain, redness, swelling and fever.
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