Joint pain – causes, symptoms and different types

joint pain, knee pain

Joint pain is a very common problem. It can be result from many conditions but in the most cases is a result of arthritis and injury. In older people, this pain gets steadily worse and usually this is a sign of osteoarthritis. Joint pain can affect one joint but also it can affect many joints. If you have noticed that you have persistent symptoms of osteoarthritis, then you must see your doctor as soon as possible. Joint pain can be inflammation, pain or discomfort arising from any part of a joint in which are included muscles, tendons, ligaments, bone and cartilage. Most commonly joint pain refers to arthralgia or arthritis which is pain or inflammation from within the joint itself. Joint pain can be mild which is causing soreness only after certain activities. Also it can be severe which is making limited movement, particularly bearing weight, extremely painful. [1,2]

Causes for joint pain

There are many causes of joint pain and they include:

  • Tendinitis
  • Sprains and strains
  • Septic arthritis
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Rickets
  • Rheumatoid arthritis [1]
  • Reactive arthritis
  • Psoriasis arthritis
  • Pseudogout
  • Polymalgia rheumatic
  • Paget’s disease of bone
  • Osteomyelitis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Lyme disease
  • Lupus
  • Leukemia
  • Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis
  • Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)
  • Gout [3]
  • Gonococcal arthritis
  • Meralgia paresthetica
  • Dislocation
  • Complex regional pain syndrome
  • Bursitis [4]
  • Broken bone
  • Bone cancer
  • Avascular necrosis [5]
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Adult Still’s disease

joint pain

joint pain types

Pain in just one joint:

  • Knee pain: The knee joint in the most cases is the most frequently damaged joint. It is particularly vulnerable because this joint is taking the full weight of the body. But not always when we have a knee pain, this means you have a joint pain. [7] The most common and more unusual causes of pain in a single joint are described below:
  • Inflammation of the joint lining: If you have injured your joint recently and it suddenly becomes painful again, then the thin layer of tissue lining the joints and tendons may be inflamed – which is condition called traumatic synovitis. This condition usually does not cause any heat or redness.
  • Gout or pseudogout: If the skin over your joint is red and hot and the pain comes in repeated attacks, then this can be causes by gout or pseudogout. Both conditions are types of arthritis. Gout usually is affecting the joint of the big toe first, before affecting other joints. It is very important to diagnose this condition early because the treatment can help to prevent disability and joint pain. Pseudogout is similar condition to gout but usually this condition is affecting the knee joint firstly. [3]
  • Less common causes: Also the sudden pain in your joint can be less commonly caused by:
  • Osgood – Schlatter’s disease: Swelling and tenderness over the bony bump just below the kneecap [6]
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: This condition can start in just one joint, with the pain coming and going [1]
  • Psoriatic arthritis: This is a type of arthritis that affects up to one in five people with psoriasis [8]
  • Reactive arthritis: This condition usually develops after an infection and tends to affect young adults
  • A fracture such as hip fracture, broken ankle, broken leg, a broken arm or wrist [7]

Pain in many joints:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis: This is another type of arthritis which causes pain and swelling in your joints, usually the wrists, feet and hands. The joint pain can come and go in the early phases and there can be long periods between attacks. It can make you feel unwell and tired. [1]
  • Psoriatic arthritis: Thus condition is affecting up to 1 in 5 people with psoriasis. This is also a type of arthritis which is unpredictable but the flare – ups usually can be managed with proper treatment. With this type of arthritis one of more of your joints are inflamed and they become swollen, painful, stiff and you have difficulties moving. [8]
  • A viral infection that causes arthritis: Here are the examples of viral infections which can cause pain in your joints and symptoms of a fever: [1]
  • Rubella: This is a viral infection which is common in children [9]
  • Viral hepatitis: This is a liver inflammation which is caused by a virus [10]


[1] Kidd BL, Langford RM, Wodehouse T. Arthritis and pain: Current approaches in the treatment of arthritic pain. Arthritis Research and Therapy. 2007;9(3):214.

[2] Baer AN. The Aapproach to the painful joint. Medscape. 2019. Retrieved from

[3] Washington State University. Potential new target for treatment of gout: Research team discovers alternate pathway by which MSU crystals trigger inflammation. Science Daily. 2019. Retrieved from

[4] American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Bursitis a common cause of painful hips, knees, heels and elbows: Most conditions can be managed with simple, nonsurgical techniques. Science Daily. 2011. Retrieved from

[5] Singh JA, Lewallen DG. Patients with osteoarthritis and avascular necrosis have better functional outcomes and those with avascular necrosis worse pain outcomes compared to rheumatoid arthritis after primary hip arthroplasty: a cohort study. BMC Medicine. 2013;11.

[6] Guldhammer C, Rathleff MS, Jensen HP, Holden S. Long-term prognosis and impact of Osgood-Schlatter disease 4 years after diagnosis: A retrospective study. Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine. 2019;7(10):2325967119878136.

[7] Arden NK, Crozier S, Smith H, et al. Knee pain, knee osteoarthritis, and the risk of fracture. Arthritis Care & Research. 2006;55(4):610-5.

[8] Veale DJ. Psoriatic arthritis: recent progress in pathophysiology and drug development. Arthritis Research & Therapy. 2013;15.

[9] Bosma TJ, Etherington J, O’Shea S, et al. Rubella virus and chronic joint disease: Is there an association? Journal of Clinical Microbiology.

[10] da Silva RSU. Rheumatological manifestations associated with viral hepatitis B or C. Revista da Sociedade Brasileira de Medicina Tropical. 2019;52.



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