Whether it's sore shoulders from leaning over a desk at work, stiff knees first thing in the morning or creaking ankles during marathon training season, most people have experienced joint pain at some point.
Joint pain can range from mild discomfort to pain so severe you can't move the joint. Pain can last for hours, weeks or months at a time.
Identifying the many causes of joint pain
In the case of arthritis, joint pain can be a disease on its own, but it's often a symptom of some type of illness or injury. Common causes include:
- Broken bones or fractures
- Tendon or ligament injury
- Lyme disease
- Strain or overuse
If you have joint pain, talk to your doctor about your symptoms. He or she will ask you some questions about your health and will do a physical exam. You might also need blood tests or imaging tests to help figure out a diagnosis.
While joint pain can get worse or more frequent as you get older, it can also affect children. If your child has pain, make an appointment with a pediatrician to figure out the root cause.
Choosing the right treatment for your pain
Treatment for joint pain depends on what's causing it. In many cases, over-the-counter medicines like NSAIDs and home care with rest, ice, elevation and braces or wraps can help control your pain.
Sometimes, you might need other medicines, physical therapy or even surgery to treat the underlying cause of your pain. Talk to your doctor to find out what treatments might work best for you.