Is Joint Pain a Warning Sign For a More Serious Condition?

Pete Olsson

/

September 1, 2020

Retirement Health
Is Joint Pain a Warning Sign For a More Serious Condition? | Retire Fearless

You might be experiencing a lot of joint pain, and I can assure you, it isn’t all in your head, joint pain affects millions of Americans.

This pain can be intense and debilitating in some cases. If you are being affected by joint pain, the most important thing that you can do is seek a diagnosis.

Finding out what’s behind your aching and sore joints immediately and getting the proper therapies can potentially save you from long term damage.

In most cases, joint pain evolves into different types of arthritis, some you might already be pre-exposed to, or something new that has flared up over years of wear and tear on your joints.

We’ll cover some of the more severe joint pain related conditions that you should be aware of, and what you should do if you think that you may have one of these conditions.

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Table of contents

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of chronic joint pain, affecting 27 million people in the United States. Osteoarthritis occurs when cartilage breaks down, leaving the bones to rub directly against each other and triggering discomfort and swelling. Even though osteoarthritis most often affects older people, it can appear in people of all ages. Your risk is exceptionally high if you are overweight or have overused a joint, playing a sport for many years, or being overly active in other areas may lead to it. The, hips, knees, lower back, neck, the base of the thumb, fingers, and base joint of the big toe are most often affected. 

Symptoms develop slowly and worsen as time passes. Symptoms and signs of Osteoarthritis are painful joints during or after moving, joint stiffness, tenderness when you apply light pressure near or on it, lack of flexibility - not being able to get a full range of motion out of your joints. Two of the more telling signs are bone spurs, and a grating sensation in your joints, when the bones are rubbing together. Activity may aggravate the joint pain, but exercise and most over-the-counter drugs can help keep you going!

Psoriatic arthritis

Psoriatic arthritis is another serious condition that can be related to joint pain. Statistics show that 10% to 30% of people with psoriasis will develop psoriatic arthritis, which puts the number of people that are affected around 12.5 million to 37.5 million people worldwide. The joint pain, swelling, and stiffness that define this ailment are the result of an autoimmune reaction where the immune system attacks the joints, causing inflammation. Psoriatic arthritis most commonly affects the finger and toe joints nearest the nail, as well as the knees, wrists, ankles, and lower back.

Symptoms can be mild or severe, and come on quickly or gradually. The pain will be most intense when you wake up, or move after a long period of resting. Even though psoriatic arthritis is a chronic condition, and it will never go away, you can manage it with healthy lifestyle choices and medication.


Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis, which is sometimes diagnosed as psoriatic arthritis, is another autoimmune disease that affects 1.5 million Americans. One of the defining traits of rheumatoid arthritis is symmetrical joint involvement, meaning it will affect the same joint on both sides of the body. Other symptoms include bony growths under the skin, and warm and swollen joints. Most commonly, the pain will be worst when you wake up, or after resting, but unlike psoriatic arthritis, the pain can last all day without treatment.

Rheumatoid arthritis, over time, can affect other parts of the body. Being a systematic disease means it can attack organs, and blood vessels. Make sure that you get diagnosed for this one quickly as rheumatoid arthritis can increase your risk of heart disease and heart attack. Make sure that you do what exercise you can and consult your rheumatologist about nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and DMARDs to ease symptoms and slow disease progression.

Lupus

Lupus is a common ailment that includes joint pain, right around 90% of people with this autoimmune disease experience joint pain. Joint pain is commonly one of the first symptoms that patients experienced. Approximately 1.5 million people in the United States have Lupus. In addition to joint pain, joints can be swollen and feel stiff, warm, and tender. This disease tends to affect the appendages of your body like the knees, ankles, toes, elbows, wrists, and fingers. Like rheumatoid arthritis, it is usually symmetric, and stiffness will be worse in the morning, but can also show up later.

There isn't a cure fur lupus, but treatments can help reduce symptoms and prevent flares. Lupus isn't nearly as damaging as rheumatoid arthritis, but you should seek treatment all-the-same.

Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia - a chronic pain disorder affects more than 3.7 million Americans. Fibromyalgia shows symptoms like muscle pain, fatigue, and aches and pain in the joints. It can come and go and may even be triggered by emotional or physical stress. Fibromyalgia more commonly affects women between the ages of 40 and 75 and are overweight. Those with pre-existing rheumatoid arthritis or lupus also have a higher risk of developing the condition. 

Although there isn't a cure for fibromyalgia, there are medications to treat the condition, and exercise can also help relieve symptoms.


Lyme Disease

Even though Lyme disease isn't a form of arthritis or a widespread kind of joint pain, it happens to be one of many possible symptoms of the tick-borne illness Lyme disease. Each year there are around 30,000 documented cases of Lyme disease in the United States. While the classic early sign of Lyme the rash that closely resembles a bulls-eye, one of the following symptoms that usually appears weeks or even months after a bite, is arthritis and joint pain in larger joints, like knees, hips, and shoulders. Commonly, only one or two joints are affected simultaneously, and episodes will become less regular and even less severe as time goes on. 

If you think you might have contracted Lyme disease, it’s vital to get a diagnosis and treatment as early as possible, as well as ongoing medical care. 

Bursitis

Another irregular ailment that may be plaguing you could be Bursitis, it is a painful condition. One that will affect the small, fluid-filled sacks that cushion your bones. It also cushions muscles, and tendons near the bone. Some of the more common locations for bursitis are in the elbows, shoulders, and hips. However, you can also have bursitis flare up by your knee, and the base of your big toe. Common signs that you might have bursitis is; your joints may feel stiff or achy, they'll be swollen and red, and it will hurt more if you apply pressure to it. Bursitis most often flares up near joints that perform frequent repetitive motion. Which would make sense for the lower joints, if you walk or run frequently, bursitis is also more common with age. 

Treatment typically includes resting the affected joint and protecting it from further injury. In most cases, bursitis pain goes away within a few weeks with the right treatment, but reoccurring flare-ups of bursitis are frequent.

Where most of these ailments and diseases can be helped by exercise and healthy habits, those aren't the only things that can help. Be sure to report any odd tenderness, burning sensations, or pain to your physician. The most important thing that you can do to save yourself from prolonged pain, or irreversible joint damage is to get an early diagnosis and construct a plan to get you back to doing the things that you enjoy most, without having to worry about nagging aches and pains.

We genuinely hope that you found valuable information that helped you find remedies and treatments for any pains that you might have. Or at least prepared you for the future, and gave you insight on how to handle pains that you may encounter in the future.


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