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What is joint pain?

Joint pain is any type of pain that occurs in one or more of your joints — like in your shoulder, hip or knee. Joint pain can range from mild to debilitating. It can make it difficult to perform your daily activities, like getting out of bed, sitting and standing for long periods of time, typing, or household chores. 

Joints form the connections between bones, provide support, and help your body move. If your joints become damaged due to disease, injury, or normal wear and tear, it can cause pain and mobility issues.

Joint pain is common. People most often report pain in their shoulders, knees, and hips, but joint pain can affect any part of your body. Joint pain can become more common as you get older.

Many different conditions can lead to painful joints, including:

  • Arthritis
  • Tendonitis
  • Bursitis
  • Injuries, such as fractures and breaks 

The good news is there are several pain management treatments for your joint pain, depending on what’s causing it. 

Arthritis and joint pain

Arthritis is the inflammation of your joints, which causes pain and stiffness. It can be caused by several different diseases and conditions. The most common forms of arthritis are: 

  • Osteoarthritis, which causes cartilage to break down  
  • Rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disorder that attacks the lining of the joints 

Symptoms of arthritis include:

  • Joint pain
  • Joint stiffness
  • Joint swelling
  • Fatigue
  • Mobility issues 

Severe arthritis can cause joint deformities and make it difficult to walk, sit comfortably, or do other daily tasks. 

While surgery may be necessary for some people with joint pain from arthritis, there are several nonsurgical treatments, like medication to treat the underlying condition, physical therapy to help increase your joint’s range of motion, and lifestyle changes. 

Tendonitis and your joints

Tendons are thick fibrous cords that attach bones to muscles. Tendonitis happens when a tendon gets irritated or inflamed, causing pain around the joints. It occurs most frequently in elbows, shoulders, knees, and heels. 

Tendonitis is usually caused by repetitive motions over time that put excessive stress on a tendon, such as playing a sport or doing physical labor for work. 

Symptoms of tendonitis include:

  • Dull pain when moving a joint or limb
  • Tenderness 
  • Swelling

Tendonitis is often treated without surgery. A common treatment is the RICE protocol (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation). Physical therapy can help relieve pain and mobility issues associated with tendonitis through a stretching and strengthening program that targets the affected area. Doctors may prescribe pain medications. In cases of tendonitis that cause severe joint pain, doctors may recommend surgery. 

Bursitis and joint pain

Bursitis is a painful inflammation of the bursae. It’s most commonly caused by repetitive use and over-stressing the areas around your joints, but it can also be caused by direct trauma or infection. 

Bursitis causes symptoms such as:

  • Feeling achiness or stiffness in a joint
  • Joints that hurt more when they are touched
  • Redness or swelling in the affected joint(s)

Bursitis can often go away on its own, and it is usually treated without surgery. Physical therapy is a common treatment for bursitis. Your physical therapist will work with you to improve your motion, flexibility, and strength in the area affected by bursitis. If bursitis is causing serious joint pain, your doctor may recommend surgery.

Fractures and broken bones

Injuries to your body, such as a bone fracture or break, can cause joint pain and mobility issues. The joint pain you may experience from a broken bone depends on which bone was broken and what caused the fracture.

Bones can fracture because of:

  • Trauma, such as a serious fall or car accident
  • Osteoporosis, a condition that weakens bones and makes them more likely to break
  • Overuse from repetitive motion, which can tire muscles and put more stress on the bone

Broken or fractured bones are initially treated with casts, splints or braces. In more serious cases, a person with a broken bone may need surgery. Depending on the break, it can take weeks or months for the bone to heal. Physical therapy is often necessary during the recovery process to help improve mobility and reduce joint pain that can occur with broken bones.

Beaumont successfully treats joint pain

Treatment for joint pain depends on which joint is affected and what is causing the pain. Most joint pain can be treated without surgery. Our specialists at Beaumont have the experience and expertise to successfully treat your joint condition. The non-surgical pain management programs we offer at Beaumont may include:

  • Pain relieving medications and anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Corticosteroids, such as prednisone and cortisone, to decrease inflammation and reduce pain
  • Physical therapy to improve mobility and strengthen muscles around the joint
  • Treatment for an underlying condition, such as antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) if you have rheumatoid arthritis
  • Occupational therapy to teach you ways you can protect joints
  • Assistive devices, like walkers and canes

Sometimes, you and your doctor may decide that surgery is the right treatment for your joint pain. Surgeons at Beaumont successfully treat joint pain problems, providing pain relief and restoring functionality. We perform thousands of joint surgeries each year and use the latest research and innovation in our practices. We offer some of the nation’s most experienced orthopedic specialists — and we’re a destination for joint replacement and spinal surgery.

Make an appointment at Beaumont

If you are having pain in your joints, contact a Beaumont specialist to get more information or make an appointment. Beaumont has orthopedic programs at seven hospitals throughout Metro Detroit. We have a team of specialists ready to determine the best treatment option for you.

Call 800-633-7377 to make an appointment.