Joint pain can affect one or more joints.
Stiffness in a joint; Pain - joints; Arthralgia
Joint pain can be caused by many types of injuries or conditions. It may be linked to arthritis, bursitis, and muscle pain. No matter what causes it, joint pain can be very bothersome. Some things that can cause joint pain are:
Follow your doctor's recommendation for treating the cause of the pain.
For nonarthritis joint pain, both rest and exercise are important. Warm baths, massage, and stretching exercises should be used as often as possible.
Aceteminophen (Tylenol) may help the soreness feel better. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as ibuprofen or naproxen may help relieve pain and swelling. Talk to your health care provider before giving aspirin or NSAIDs such as ibuprofen to children.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Contact your health care provider if:
- You have fever that is not associated with flu symptoms.
- You have lost 10 pounds or more without trying (unintended weight loss).
- Your joint pain lasts for more than 3 days.
- You have severe, unexplained joint pain and swelling, particularly if you have other unexplained symptoms.
What to Expect at Your Office Visit
Your doctor or nurse will perform a physical exam and ask you questions about your medical history and symptoms, including:
- Which joint hurts? Is the pain on one side or both sides?
- What started the pain and how often have you had it? Have you had it before?
- Did this pain begin suddenly and severely, or slowly and mildly?
- Is the pain constant or does it come and go? Has the pain become more severe?
- Have you injured your joint?
- Have you had an illness, rash, or fever?
- Does resting or moving make the pain better or worse? Are certain positions more or less comfortable? Does keeping the joint elevated help?
- Do medicines, massage, or applying heat reduce the pain?
- What other symptoms do you have?
- Is there any numbness?
- Can you bend and straighten the joint? Does the joint feel stiff?
- Are your joints stiff in the morning? If so, for how long does the stiffness last?
- What makes the stiffness better?
Tests that may be done include:
Physical therapy for muscle and joint rehabilitation may be recommended. A procedure called arthrocentesis may be needed to remove fluid from the sore joint.
Arend WP, Lawry GV. Approach to the patient with rheumatic disease. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 264.
Reviewed By:Gordon A. Starkebaum, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency
or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional
should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911
for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they
do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997-A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
The Agency for Health Care Administration (Agency) and this website do not claim the information on, or referred to by, this site is error free. This site may include links to websites of other government agencies or private groups. Our Agency and this website do not control such sites and are not responsible for their content. Reference to or links to any other group, product, service, or information does not mean our Agency or this website approves of that group, product, service, or information.
Additionally, while health information provided through this website may be a valuable resource for the public, it is not designed to offer medical advice. Talk with your doctor about medical care questions you may have.