joint pain

Joint Pain: Signs, Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

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Joint pain refers to pain or discomfort to a person’s joint due to injury, infection or inflammation. A person with joint pain may experience joint redness, joint swelling, joint warmth, joint deformity and joint stiffness.

Treatment for joint pain often depends on the cause of the pain. Treatment options may include rest, warm compresses, elevation, stretching exercises, physical therapy, weight reduction, stretching exercises, pain medication and antibiotics. The doctor may prescribe medication for joint painarthritis such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication, immune system suppressing drugs and corticosteroids. Joint replacement surgery may be required for major joint injuries or diseases.

Disclaimer: this page on joint pain, signs, symptoms, causes and treatment is for information purposes only. To learn how to recognize and manage severe joint pain sign up for first aid training.


Causes of joint pain include:

  • Bursitis
  • Influenza
  • Sports injuries
  • Occupational injuries
  • Overuse injury
  • Falls
  • Ligament sprains
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Synovitis
  • Tendinitis
  • Viral syndrome

Risk factors associated with joint pain include:

  • Elderly
  • Recurrent stress to a joint
  • Family history of arthritis
  • Previously had a tick bite – increases chances of Lyme disease
  • Obesity
  • History of injury to the joint

Signs and symptoms

Signs and symptoms of joint pin include:

  • Joint stiffness
  • Joint deformity
  • Joint swelling
  • Joint warmth
  • Skin redness overlying the joint


Treatment for joint pain may include:

  • Rest
  • Elevation
  • Warm compresses
  • Stretching exercises
  • Weight loss
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen and naproxen
  • Narcotic pain medication for moderate to severe pain, for short-term use
  • Oral corticosteroid medication
  • Corticosteroid injections for pain in the joint
  • Physical therapy for pain in the joint
  • Severe damages to the joint may have to be repaired with joint replacement surgery

Home care treatment

Follow these home care steps for quick recovery from joint pain:

  • Avoid strenuous activities that may trigger or worsen pain
  • Avoid standing for too long
  • Avoid staying in one position for too long
  • Rest you joint by using walkers, crutches or a cane
  • Wear a sling to support the joint
  • If joints are swollen, apply a splint to redcue pain and swelling
  • Apply warm compresses for 20-30 minutes to redcue stiffness, every 1-2 hours
  • Follow a regular exercise program to recover from joint pain. Consult your health care provider about what exercises should be carried out. Make sure you follow the instructions given by your doctor and perform gentle stretching exercises after normal exercises
  • Take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen for pain
  • Your doctor may prescribe medications to recover from joint pain. take medication as directed and avoid skipping doses as this may make the medication less effective. Ask your doctor about the common side effects of the drugs prescribed.
  • Consider weight loss if you are overweight
  • Non-prescription pain rubs can be applied to relieve pain

When to seek medical attention

See your doctor if any of the following problems arise with joint pain:

  • Worsening pain in the joint
  • Severe joint pain
  • Other joints begin to ache as well
  • Joint swelling
  • Worsening fever
  • Worsening rash
  • Skin redness
  • Pain around the joint
  • Eye redness
  • Eye pain

Learn More

To learn more about severe joint paint and other injuries and emergencies enrol in first aid training with St Mark James.

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