Orthopedic Specialists

What Causes Joint Pain?

November 9, 2022

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If you’re experiencing chronic joint pain, you likely have two questions. What’s causing your joints to hurt and how can you treat your joint pain? Causes for joint pain can vary, and finding out what’s causing your joint pain is vital to finding the right treatment. Learn more about some common causes of joint pain and different joint pain treatments before seeing an orthopedic doctor.

Factors That Increase Your Risk For Joint Pain

Naturally, age is a primary factor in joint pain. As we age, the years of wear and tear on our joints catch up to us and can cause painful and/or achy joints. However, there are a variety of other factors that make a person more likely to experience joint pain. 

  • Previous joint injury 
  • Overuse/overexertion of a muscle(s)
  • Diagnosis of depression and/or anxiety
  • Are overweight and/or are in poor health

The primary causes of joint pain across the board lie in a variety of different medical conditions. The following medical conditions often cause joint pain and warrant a visit to an orthopedic doctor. 

Common Causes of Joint Pain


Arthritis encompasses more than 100 conditions that affect the joints, tissues around the joint, and other connective tissues. Symptoms can vary based on the type of arthritis but joint pain and joint stiffness are two common arthritis symptoms. Common types of arthritis that are attributed to chronic joint pain and aching joints include: 

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Gonococcal arthritis
  • Psoriatic arthritis
  • Reactive arthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (inflammatory joint disease)
  • Septic arthritis

Tendon or Ligament Injury

A ligament or tendon injury can often cause joint pain in people of all ages. These injuries can be minor, resulting in inflation and swelling or a partial tear, which may not trigger immediate alarm at the time of the injury. A full tear often requires orthopedic surgery, and a torn ligament or torn tendon can cause serious pain.


About 70-80% of your joint cartilage is made of water, so it comes as no wonder why the lack of hydration is associated with joint pain and sore joints. The water content in cartilage is regulated by proteins that become a gel-like consistency when they come into contact with water. This gel-like liquid provides cushioning, lubrication, shock absorption, and nutrition to the cartilage in our joints. Even if you take joint supplements, without enough water, dehydration can cause joint pain.

Viral Infections

Viral infections can also cause joint pain. In recent years, this has been more widely discussed due to the relationship between joint pain and COVID-19. Other viral infections that cause joint pain include: 

  • Parvovirus
  • Hepatitis B,& Hepatitis C
  • Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV)
  • Certain tropical viruses

Autoimmune Diseases

Many different autoimmune diseases cause joint pain, especially in smaller joints (such as wrist joint pain, finger joint pain, and toe joint pain). Rheumatoid arthritis and lupus are the two autoimmune diseases most commonly associated with chronic joint pain. 


Tendonitis is an irritation or inflammation of a tendon that causes joint pain and/or discomfort. Tendonitis can occur in any of your tendons but is most common in your shoulders, wrists, elbows, knees, and heels. Common types of tendonitis include tennis elbow and DeQuervain’s.


Bursitis is a condition that causes inflammation in the small, fluid-filled sacs (called bursae) that cushion the bones, tendons, and muscles near your joints. Bursitis is most common in the shoulder, elbow, and hip.

Treatments For Joint Pain

Joint pain treatments vary widely based on the causes of joint pain and individual patient factors. What helps joint pain for one patient may not be the best treatment for another patient. This is why it is so important to see a joint pain doctor who specializes in orthopedics so you can receive the specialized diagnosis and care needed for the best outcomes possible. Common joint pain treatment options include:

Medications: For chronic medical conditions, such as arthritis and viral infections, medications can be prescribed for both joint pain relief and general symptom management.

Physical Therapy/Occupational Therapy: Regardless of the cause of your joint pain, physical therapy can help reduce joint pain and improve your range of motion. Physical therapists can also recommend at-home exercise programs and nutrition advice to help manage your joint pain. 

Supportive Medical Equipment: Supportive aids such as orthopedic shoe inserts, braces, supports, and more can help ease joint pain and prevent joint pain from worsening during usual daily activity. 

Joint Replacement Surgery: Orthopedic surgeons performing an arthroplasty use metal and/or plastic parts to reconstruct worn-down, damaged, or arthritic joint surfaces. This has been effective as a treatment for joint pain sufferers who have failed nonsurgical treatment and have disabling function, limitation of activities of daily living, and severe joint pain. 

Experience Lasting Relief From Joint Pain

Regardless of whether you're experiencing hip joint pain, sacroiliac joint pain, elbow joint pain, or any other type of joint pain, Orthopedic Specialists is here to help. From diagnosing the cause of your joint pain to discussing your treatment options to ongoing treatment and resources, we’re here for you every step of the way. Schedule an appointment and start experiencing joint pain relief so you can get back to enjoying life today!

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