Joint pain a problem? Find out the what causes, signs, & pain relief options!

By Sophia Monroe  Updated 10/21/2020

Pain of the joints  causes and signs

Do you feel like your joints are deteriorating? Or are you already experiencing some joint ailments and wondering if it requires medical attention?

In either case, your first step towards remedying the problem should be to learn about what causes joint pain.

Painful joints may be an after-effect of strenuous exercise. They can signify sprains and strains. Or they may indicate the onset of disease such as arthritis.

Understanding the nature and root cause of your joint pain can help you take the right action in due time.

Main Causes of Joint Pain

There are several different conditions that can lead to joint pain. They range from minor physical injuries that heal with time to serious diseases that require you to see a doctor and various other factors in between.

However, in most cases, joint pain tends to be a symptom of arthritis.

In a national survey (1), at least one in every three adults in the country confirmed having joint pain that is typically associated with this disorder. Based on data from the National Health Interview Survey (2), it is said that within the next five years, more than 25% of all American adults will have doctor-diagnosed arthritis.

The following article explains the two main types of arthritis that lead to painful joints. We also discuss some other factors that are among the leading causes of poor joint performance.


Osteoarthritis is the most prevalent chronic joint condition.

To understand what happens when a person develops osteoarthritis, you need to first understand the joint and bone assembly.

As you may know, joints connect two bones together. They are held in place by a layer of protective tissue known as cartilage.

In patients suffering from osteoarthritis, these tissues start breaking down at a rate faster than your body can naturally repair them. As a result, your bones rub against each other when you move. This can give rise to pain. It can also lead to stiffness, limiting your range of movement as the joints become sore.

Osteoarthritis can affect any joint. However, the symptoms usually develop in hands, wrists, and knees first.

An estimated 30 million people in the U.S suffer from this disease. Men and women aged 40 or above are more susceptible to developing osteoarthritis (3). This is because the cartilage that protects your joint naturally wears down over time.

However, certain factors can increase your risk of developing this type of arthritis. This includes:

  • Obesity – Increased weight puts unhealthy pressure on your weight-bearing joints like knees and hips. This can damage the cartilage that surrounds them.
  • Overuse – If you are into sports activities that place repetitive stress on your joints, it may trigger this disease
  • Genetics – If someone in your family has a history of osteoarthritis, you may be more likely to develop it too

Treatment Options

If left untreated, osteoarthritis can lead to temporary or even permanent disability. The good news is that taking proper measures early on can help you easily manage the symptoms of osteoarthritis. It can significantly slow down the progress of the disease too. 

This includes maintaining a healthy diet and regularly doing light physical exercise.

Generally, you cannot reverse the damage that has been done to the joints. You can only stop it from deteriorating more. But some joint health supplements like Joint N-11, Turmeric Curcumin & Projoint Plus claim to replenish your body with nutrients that could support the repair of broken cartilages.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease. That is, rather than defending your body, it causes your immune system to attack it instead. This ultimately affects several organs in your body. However, that kind of damage normally occurs in the higher stages.

Among the early symptoms of RA, joint pain and stiffness are the most obvious ones.

In people with RA, the immune system mistakes the protective lining at the end of bones to be a threat to the body. This triggers an undesired inflammatory response that makes your joint swell. The intensity of pain depends on the extent and severity of the disease.

If your joint pain goes through cycles, i.e., is quite severe at times and virtually disappears later on, it may indicate rheumatoid arthritis.

Periods of high and low to no pain (known as flares and remission, respectively) are usually the main marker that helps doctors distinguish between RA and osteoarthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis (4) can damage the joints all over your body. But it usually affects them in pairs. So, both your knees, hands, shoulders, elbows, or wrists will feel stiff and painful.

Other signs of RA are noticeable loss in joint movement, joint tenderness, and joint stiffness. The stiffness is especially worse in the morning and/ or after being idle for a long time.

Most people with RA also experience symptoms that don’t involve joints. For instance, fatigue and loss of appetite.

Treatment Options

If you think you may have developed rheumatoid arthritis, you must see a doctor as soon as possible. Not addressing the issue on time can result in bone decay and permanent joint deformity.

Treatment options for RA usually include medications and physical therapy. Patients at higher stages may require surgery to correct the damaged joints. With early diagnosis, it’s possible to slow down or even stop the disease using nutritional supplements for fighting arthritis. Read Projoint Plus ReviewJoint N-11Review, or Turmeric Curcumin Review to be more informed on nutritional supplements that could help with fighting arthritis 


Gout refers to a painful condition in which small lumps of waste or ‘crystals’ from the body collect in or near the joint area. It usually affects the big toe but can occur in any other joint too.

Gout is considered a complex form of arthritis (5). Symptoms include severe, and typically sudden, attacks of pain accompanied by redness, swelling, and tenderness.

Just like rheumatoid arthritis, gout attacks come and go. However, they are most likely to occur at night. In extreme cases, the pain can be so intense that it can wake up the person from their sleep. The affected area becomes sensitive to touch and often feels as if it is on fire.

Gout is not related to age, activity, or similar factors, and hence, can affect anyone. However, health experts say that people who are overweight or diagnosed with a heart disease are at greater risk of developing gout.

Treatment Options

What causes joint pain of this kind is actually the buildup of uric acid.

Uric acid is formed during the breakdown of food particles in our body. Excessive consumption of certain foods like red meat and alcohol can increase the level of uric acid. When the kidneys fail to flush out the excess acid, it deposits in the joints instead. 

Therefore, controlling your diet can provide significant help in eliminating pain from gout.

For temporary relief when the pain shoots up, try drinking plenty of water and applying an ice pack to the inflamed joint.

Strain and Sprain

If you recently had an injury or some sports related accident, it probably explains where your joint problem stems from. But is it a strain or a sprain? (6) The symptoms of strains and sprains are quite similar. But the answer can play an important role in determining how to treat the pain. It also affects the estimated time it will take for the pain to subdue.

A joint strain is when you overstretch or tear your muscles or tendons. It is often called ‘pulled muscle’ and usually occurs in the lower back and in the hamstring muscle.

A sprain on the other hand, refers to the overuse, over stretching, or tearing of ligaments and not muscles. Ligaments are the dense cords of fibrous tissues that connect the ends of two bones together in a joint. Sprains commonly occur in the ankles and wrists.

Both strains and sprains can result in pain and swelling around the affected joint.

The major difference is that a sprain can bruise the area whereas strains often lead to spasms in the damaged muscle.

Watch this video (7) to see what happens when you sprain an ankle.

Treatment options for RA usually include medications and physical therapy. Patients at higher stages may require surgery to correct the damaged joints. With early diagnosis, it’s possible to slow down or even stop the disease using nutritional supplements for fighting arthritis.  Read, or to be more informed on nutritional supplements that could help with fighting arthritis or other joint pain issues. 

Treatment Options

Generally, you can treat mild sprains and strains at home effectively and efficiently using the RICE method. RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.

Avoid activities that involve the use of the injured joint (rest). Ideally, you should rest the injured area for at least 48 hours after the incident. Apply cold packs 2-3 times a day or more if you feel the need (ice). Tightly wrap a bandage around the area to control the swelling (compress). While resting try to keep the injured hand or limb around 5-10 inches above the heart level (elevate).  And lastly there are some topical pain relievers to help manage the pain.

You may need to see a doctor if you:

  • Have severe pain in the bones connected to the injured joint
  • Are unable to move the joint at all
  • Feel a tingling sensation in the affected area

This video (8) explains what you should do if you have sprained or strained your joints.


Any damage to the joints due to a disease or injury can hinder movement and cause a lot of pain.

Joint pain is a common complaint in the U.S. However, it typically doesn’t require a hospital visit. Many people are able to get rid of their joint ache by improving their diet, doing proper exercises, and taking plenty of rest along with dietary supplements for increasing joint health. 

Got any questions about what causes joint pain? Leave them in the comments below and we’ll answer them in the clearest way possible.

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