One of the most common physical conditions that produces symptoms of joint pain is osteoarthritis. This condition is the deterioration of a specific joint or joints through wear and tear over time. This pain is a message from the body that the cartilage that separates the bones of a joint is breaking down, allowing the bones to come into contact, with the joints at knee, hip, shoulder or other area becoming stiff and painful.
Joint pain can be the result of various forms of arthritis, injury, or overuse. Repetitive injuries such as tennis elbow can be a source of pain and discomfort for many patients age 50 and older. Acute pain related to an injury may require specialized regenerative treatments to help restore healthy function.
Joint pain and quality of life
Joint pain is common, most commonly affecting the weight-bearing joints in the lower body such as the hips and knees. These joints receive the greatest impact in daily life, or in activities such as running or skiing. Areas that can be affected by joint pain include:
Is my pain osteoarthritis?
Your pain may be due to osteoarthritis if the source of your pain is the result of deterioration of the cartilage in the affected joint. Osteoarthritis can be diagnosed by:
- Reviewing your medical history
- Undergoing a physical examination
- Testing such as an MRI or X-ray of the affected joints
- Examining the body for the presence of inflamed, swollen, and tender joints
- Patient reporting symptoms such as restricted movement, pain, or weakness in specific joints
- Identifying the presence of bony growths in the affected area
You may be asked to perform a series of motions with the affected joint or joints so that the joint itself can be assessed in a physical examination. The presence of restricted motion and pain in the joint can be an indicator of the development of osteoarthritis.
Joint Pain and Osteoarthritis — Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of pain does osteoarthritis cause?
Osteoarthritis can cause sharp, acute pains or as dull, or aching pains. This depends on the condition of the joint, the severity of the arthritis, and your activity level. Some people may find performing motions or exercise to induce pain, or pain may set in afterwards. Some people may feel pain when they are inactive, or they may feel stiff, especially first thing in the morning or after sitting for long periods of time.
What are the early signs of osteoarthritis?
Early signs of osteoarthritis include:
- Stiffness or inflexibility of the joints
- Pain in the joints during or after exercise
- Swelling or tenderness
Is there a difference between arthritis and osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is one of the most common forms of arthritis. Arthritis is defined simply as the pain or inflammation of the joints. The cause of the pain or inflammation is how a case of arthritis will be categorized more specifically as osteoarthritis, a condition related to overuse and deterioration of a joint. This can be compared with rheumatoid arthritis, which is arthritis caused by the body’s autoimmune response.
Does osteoarthritis cause constant pain?
Not necessarily. Depending on the severity of the deterioration, pain may subside during periods of rest, and then return during periods of activity.
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