What is joint pain / arthralgia?
Joint pain, also known as arthralgia, can occur in any part of the body, but it is most common in the hips and knees. Your joints endure an incredible amount of stress.
A joint is where two bone ends meet and they provide support and allow you to move. A joint has a number of components: the ends of the bones are covered with articular cartilage which allows them to glide over one another in movement.
The bones are held together by ligaments around the joint and there is a bag like structure (called the synovial capsule) surrounding the joint, which contains the synovial fluid that nourishes and lubricates the joint. Tendons attach muscle to bone around the joint and there may be fluid filled sacs called bursae which help the smooth movement of the tendon.
I think it is fair to say that most of us have suffered with discomfort, aches, soreness or pain in at least one of our joints – and you probably took some over the counter medication and possibly used a hot or cold pack as well.
Joint pain is common and anyone of any age can suffer with joint pain, but it shouldn’t be accepted as a side effect of age. How many of you thought to get your joint symptoms checked out by anyone?
Symptoms of joint pain
Joint pain can range from mildly irritating to debilitating. It may go away in a few weeks (acute) or last for several weeks or months (chronic). Even short term pain and swelling can affect your quality of life. The nature and severity of your symptoms will depend to a great extent on the cause and you could have one or many joints affected.
You may experience one or a combination of the following:
- Swelling of the joint
- Stiffness of the joints especially in the mornings or after long periods of rest
- Redness and warmth of the joint
- Painful to the touch
- Decreased movement
- Pain aggravated by motion, pressure or weight-bearing resistance with activity
It may be difficult to pinpoint the actual source of the pain as it could be the joint itself, the tissues surrounding it or an affected tendon of ligament. Often, all parts of the joint become inflamed.
If you are also experiencing symptoms of fatigue, weight loss or fever you need to see your GP.
Causes of joint pain
Pain in one or more joints can result from a variety of causes, and whilst usually associated with increasing age, joint pain is not exclusive to the elderly.
Joint pain can be caused by injury or disease affecting any of the ligaments, bursae, or tendons surrounding the joint, or ligaments, cartilage and bones within the joint. Pain is also a feature of joint inflammation (arthritis) and infection.
Common causes include:
- Joint injuries – probably the most common cause of joint pain. It is usually the result of sport injuries, falls or simple accidents such as ‘going over your ankle’ and other similar situation where forces exerted on a joint exceed their design capabilities. Ligaments are usually damaged and the surrounding muscles and tendons may also become injured and inflamed
- Osteoarthritis – commonly known as ‘wear and tear’ arthritis, is probably the second most common cause of joint pain. It usually affects the large, weight bearing joints such as the hips and knees and also the lumbar spine and neck.
- Rheumatoid arthritis – is an autoimmune disease and can affect people from a young age. It usually causes pain in a number of joints at the same time and tends to affect the smaller joints in the hands and feet first.
- Gout – a metabolic disorder where uric acid crystals precipitate out of the blood and settle in the joints and other tissues causing inflammation. Classically the big toe is affected, but knees, elbows and fingers can also be involved.
- Mechanical joint pain – this is where there is no disease process present and is from the musculoskeletal framework or soft tissues of a joint. Common causes can be overuse (repetitive strain) or inactivity, injury or mechanical strain such as a result of poor posture or muscle imbalance. A joint placed under mechanical strain can become inflamed and painful. For example, a person twists their knee (pain due to soft tissues injury) and because they cannot walk properly and limp they then aggravate the opposite hip (pain due to misuse, unusual use).
- Being overweight, poor diet, sedentary lifestyle or excessive sports or physical work
How will osteopathy help?
We regularly and effectively treat people presenting with joint pain here at Shefford Osteopathic Clinic and as you can see above there are many different causes for your pain. We are trained to work out what is happening in each individual case, which we do by taking a medical history, assessing your posture and examining the joints, muscles etc. of your body. For example you might have pain on the inside of your knee, which we diagnose as inflammation of the pes anserine bursae and insertion of the adductor muscles, which are tight and pulling on that insertion due to decreased mobility of the hip which is possibly due to early signs of osteoarthritis of the hip.
Your hands-on treatment will improve and mobilise joints, increase circulation and drainage to the affected area, release any tight / short muscles and address postural / mechanical compensations elsewhere in the body.
We will also discuss and give advice for you regarding exercises, rehabilitation, lifestyle and posture.
If necessary we will refer you to your GP should we decide you need further investigations or different treatment, and you may wish to see your GP for painkiller / anti-inflammatory medication.
What to do now ……
If you’ve come to this website looking for help, then don’t in silence suffer any longer.
Contact us immediately on 01462 811006 for a consultation and let’s assess your condition.
At the assessment, we’ll take some details from you and build your case history. We’ll discuss why you’ve come to see us and where you have any aches and pains. Then we’ll examine you with the aim of giving you the appropriate treatment.
This will take a little while to complete, but it’s a necessary part of the ethical guidelines we work to. The guidelines are there to make sure everything is done professionally and to a high standard of patient care. I’m sure you agree that’s a good thing!
If you have any questions about what we do and how we do it, call us on 01462 811006 or use the contact form below – and we’ll be happy to help.