Joint pain, or arthralgia, is often a symptom seen in infection, injury, illness, or as a side effect of medication. Joint pain occurs due to destructive and degenerative processes and can originate from any part of the joint, such as the tendons, muscles, ligaments, cartilage, and bone.
The diagnosis of joint pain involves interviewing and examining the patient in collaboration with various tests. The treatment of joint pain depends on the underlying cause and usually involves treatment of that cause. Therapeutic options include immunosuppressants if there is dysfunction of the immune system, antibiotics if there is an infection, discontinuation of medication that causes joint pain, and surgery.
One goal of treatment is pain management, which can involve pain medication, physical therapy, heat therapy, capsaicin, and more. Although joint pain is rarely an emergency, patients should seek professional medical opinion if there is joint swelling, redness, warmth, tenderness, deformity, and inability to use the joint.
Cause #1: Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic autoimmune disease that mostly affects the joints. Patients who suffer from it usually experience painful, swollen, and warm joints. There may also be pain and stiffness that worsens after periods of rest.
Affected joints are often symmetrical, mostly pertaining to the hands and wrists. While the effects of the disease are most pronounced on the joints, rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic condition resulting in inflammation around the lungs, heart, and anemia. Rheumatoid arthritis is believed to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.