The most common cause of joint pain is osteoarthritis, a chronic, degenerative disease that causes the joint surfaces to wear away and break down over time. Osteoarthritis most commonly occurs as a result of wear and tear on the joint's slick, protective layers, but it can also develop following an injury or joint surgery. Athletes and others who place considerable stresses on joints are at greater risk for developing the disease at a younger age. Other potential causes of joint pain include:
People with joint pain may also experience swelling, tenderness, joint stiffness, and a decreased range of motion in the joint.
Diagnosis of joint pain begins with a physical examination including both active and passive exercises to determine the types of motions that cause symptoms to occur and to pinpoint the location of the pain. Diagnostic imaging including x-rays, CT scans or MRI may also be ordered, and in some cases, blood tests may be prescribed to rule out certain diseases.
Not so long ago, the only treatments for joint pain included oral medications combined with physical therapy to relieve mild to moderate symptoms, or major surgery to fuse or replace damaged joints. Today, however, there are a number of minimally-invasive options to relieve pain and inflammation in joints, helping patients avoid more invasive surgeries and achieve greater relief than that provided by oral medications. Injections of anesthetics and corticosteroids in the joint space can be very effective in relieving many types of joint pain, including pain in the knees, wrists, and spine. Nerve block injections can also be very useful. When surgical intervention is warranted, minimally-invasive approaches can be used to fuse joint components so painful friction is prevented.
*Individual Results May Vary