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Symptoms and Signs of Joint Pain

Doctor's Notes on Joint Pain

Joint pain (arthralgia) can be caused by joint disease (such as types of arthritis) or injury of the tissues adjacent to the joint. Most joints consist of bones separated by cartilage that serves as a cushioning pad for the adjacent bones. Structures that surround the joint include ligaments that attach the bones to each other around the joint, bursae, which are fluid-filled sacs that help provide cushioning between the bones, and tendons that attach the muscles to the bones around the joint. Injury or disease to any of these structures can result in joint pain.

Pain is a symptom of joint inflammation (arthritis) and infection (for example, Lyme disease) and can occur with rare tumors of the joint. Joint pain may worsen with motion, pressure, or weight-bearing resistance with activity. Symptoms that may be associated with joint pain include joint stiffness, local warmth, swelling, and tenderness.

Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Medically Reviewed on 1/2/2020

Joint Pain Symptoms

Arthralgia can be aggravated by motion, pressure, or weight-bearing resistance with activity. Joint pain can be associated with signs and symptoms such as joint stiffness, local warmth, swelling, and tenderness.

If you have symptoms that persist after one week, it should be evaluated by a health care practitioner. Moreover, severe pain in the joint should be medically evaluated as soon as possible.

Joint Pain Causes

Joint pain can be caused by injury or disease affecting any of the ligaments, bursae (for example, bursitis), or tendons surrounding the joint. Injury or disease (for example, the autoimmune diseases systemic lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis) can also affect the ligaments, cartilage, and bones within the joint, leading to a painful joint. Pain is also a feature of joint inflammation (arthritis) and infection (for example, Lyme disease) and can be a feature of rare tumors of the joint (for example, pigmented villonodular synovitis) or chronic fatigue syndrome.

Arthritis 16 Bad Habits That Cause Joint Pain Slideshow

Arthritis 16 Bad Habits That Cause Joint Pain Slideshow

People who are overweight or obese are more likely to develop arthritis. Research has shown that for every pound that you weigh, your knees have 4 pounds of stress on them. Extra weight also burdens joints in your hips, back, and feet. Additional weight places increased strain and wear and tear on your joints. In addition to the physical stress that increased weight places on joints, fat secretes inflammatory chemicals that may also cause joint pain and increase the risk of arthritis and other chronic conditions. Some types of inflammatory molecules may promote the development of osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA), two conditions that affect joints. Osteoarthritis is the so-called "wear-and-tear" type of arthritis where cartilage is damaged in the affected joints. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition where the immune system attacks and damages joints.

REFERENCE:

Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

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