Commonly affected joints are the hip, knee, shoulder, wrists and fingers. Knees are one of the most often damaged as they take your full body weight and extra force when running, jumping or dancing. This means you're more at risk of joint pain if you're overweight or do a lot of sports.
Sudden pain and swelling in a joint may be caused by an injury, such as a fracture or a tear (a sprain) to a tendon, ligament or cartilage. You may also experience bleeding into the joint space after an injury. This is more likely if you’re taking anticoagulants (blood thinners). If you think you’ve injured a joint and it's causing severe pain, you should go to A&E right away.
Pain in just one joint could be inflammation of a tissue in your joint. It's often accompanied by swelling and tenderness. Inflammation can be caused by many conditions, including:
There are many types of arthritis - a range of conditions that cause pain and stiffness within your joints. The most common that are likely to cause joint pain are:
There are many other causes of joint pain. It's important to see your GP as soon as possible if your symptoms don't improve and are affecting your day-to-day life.
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Your GP will ask you about your symptoms and how it's been affecting you. They'll carry out a physical examination, including asking you to perform some simple exercises involving the affected joints.
After this, your GP may refer you for more tests to investigate further and discover the cause of your joint pain, including:
Your doctor will recommend treatment depending on the cause of your joint pain. In some cases, resting, along with taking over-the-counter painkillers (if advised by your doctor), may be enough.
You may need to stop doing activities that make any pain worse.
Depending on your diagnosis, other joint pain treatments may be needed including:
In cases where your joint is severely damaged, your doctor may recommend joint replacement.