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Joint pain

Stiffness in a joint; Pain - joints; Arthralgia; Arthritis

Joint pain can affect one or more joints.

Images

Skeleton
The structure of a joint

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Causes

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:

Signs of joint inflammation include:

Home Care

Follow your health care provider's advice for treating the cause of the pain.

For non-arthritic joint pain, both rest and exercise are important. Warm baths, massage, and stretching exercises should be used as often as possible.

Acetaminophen (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 provider before giving aspirin or NSAIDs such as ibuprofen to children.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Contact your provider if:

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

Your provider will ask you questions about your medical history and symptoms, including:

A physical exam will be done, looking for signs of joint abnormality including:

Tests that may be done include:

Treatments may include:

Related Information

Arthritis
Muscle aches
Bursitis
Rheumatoid arthritis
Osteoarthritis

References

Bykerk VP, Crow MK. Approach to the patient with rheumatic disease. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 256.

Davis JM, Moder KG, Hunder GG. History and physical examination of the musculoskeletal system. In: Firestein GS, Budd RC, Gabriel SE, McInnes IB, O'Dell JR, eds. Kelley and Firestein's Textbook of Rheumatology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 40.

Schaible H-G. Joint pain: basic mechanisms. In: McMahon SB, Koltzenburg M, Tracey I, Turk DC, eds. Wall & Melzack's Textbook of Pain. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2013:chap 44.

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Review Date: 1/29/2018  

Reviewed By: Gordon A. Starkebaum, MD, ABIM Board Certified in Rheumatology, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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