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Joint Pain: Diagnosing and Treatment

Joint Pain: Diagnosing and Treatment

What is Joint Pain?

Joint pain is a very common problem that can affect any joint in the body. It can be caused by injuries, degenerative diseases, autoimmune disorders, and numerous other conditions. When left untreated, it can be debilitating and have a massive impact on one's day to day life. With treatment, however, joint pain can usually be managed.

What Causes Joint Pain?

In many cases, joint pain is not a sign of a serious underlying condition. It often occurs naturally as people age. One of the most common causes of age-related joint pain is arthritis. This condition occurs as the cartilage that acts as a cushion between the bones begins to break down. When friction occurs between the bones, patients experience a painful, grinding sensation. Other common causes of joint pain include rheumatoid arthritis, gout, bursitis, and tendonitis. Infectious diseases such as hepatitis, influenza, Lyme disease, mumps, measles, rubella, varicella, and rheumatic fever may also cause pain in the joints.

Injuries That Cause Joint Pain

Injuries that cause joint pain vary greatly. Some of the most common are those that include strains or sprains that occur as the result of overuse or unusual exertion. In some cases, fractures to nearby bones can cause pain in the joints, as can damage to the tendons that hold the bones together. Injuries to the muscles can result in joint pain as well.

Joint Pain Treatments

Sometimes joint pain can be treated without medical intervention. Mild cases of arthritis and other conditions often respond well to over-the-counter pain and anti-inflammatory medications, and many injuries heal on their own. In other cases, however, patients need help from a doctor. This is the case when severe injuries occur or when patients experience ongoing joint pain that is severe enough to interfere with normal daily activities.

Joint Pain Diagnosis and Recovery

Doctors diagnose the cause of joint pain based on the patient's medical history and a physical examination. Additional testing such as X-ray's or MRI's may also be required to rule out or detect certain problems. Laboratory tests may also be conducted. When treating injuries, the joint often must be immobilized to allow for proper healing. Surgery may also be required for severe injuries. Other conditions may be treatable with prescription medications. If joint pain has to lead to atrophy due to the patient not using the joint, physical or occupational therapy may also be recommended to restore strength and range of motion. Other medications and treatments may be necessary depending upon what is causing the patient's pain.

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