Joint pain: Causes

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Understand joint pain

Joint pain may be acute or chronic and be associated with a multitude of possible aetiologies.1–3

Here we review some of the potential causes of pain emanating from joint tissues.

Woman holding back

Osteoarthritis is the most common cause of worsening joint pain4,5

The symptoms of joint pain and Osteoarthritis can be similar and its important to notice the difference for correct treatment.Osteoarthritis is characterised by structural changes within the whole joint – as caused by a multitude of pathogenic factors6–8

  • Mechanical: changes in cartilage composition increase its susceptablility to force-induced erosions
  • Metabolic: activation of cell-signalling pathways in response to damage leads to further joint degradation
  • Inflammatory: metabolic activity initiates a proinflammatory response

This complex process ultimately leads to structural destruction and failure of the synovial joint.8

Man with knee pain

Other conditions may also cause joint pain

Aside from osteoarthritis, a range of conditions can cause joint pain. Acute joint pain, for example, may arise from soft-tissue injuries such as sprains and strains, or overuse injuries or infection.2,3,9 Chronic joint pain however, may be associated with conditions such as tendonitis, bursitis or various forms of arthritis.2–4,10

Soft-tissue injuries are a common cause of acute joint pain. These can include sprains occurring during sports, and overuse injuries.9

Understanding joint pain and osteoarthritis

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Overview of sprains and strains

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Educational resources

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Patient care resources

Access a leaflet for your patients which can help them understand the causes of joint pain and how best to treat it.