Joint Pain

Joints form the connections between bones. They provide support and help you move. Any damage to the joints from disease or injury can interfere with your movement and cause a lot of pain.

Many different conditions can lead to painful joints, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoidarthritis, bursitis, gout, strains, sprains, and other injuries. Joint pain is extremely common. In one national survey, about one-third of adults reported having joint pain within the past 30 days. Knee pain was the most common complaint, followed by shoulder and hip pain, but joint pain can affect any part of your body, from your ankles to your shoulders. As you get older, painful joints become increasingly more common.

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Joint pain can range from mildly irritating to debilitating. It may go away after a few weeks (acute), or last for several weeks or months (chronic). Even short-term pain and swelling in the joints can affect your quality of life. Whatever the cause of joint pain, you can usually manage it with physical therapy, or alternative treatments. Chiropractic adjustments to align the shoulder joint will generally reduce any dysfunction of that particular joint, which is the cause of most symptoms.

Your doctor will first try to diagnose and treat the condition that is causing your joint pain. The goal is to reduce pain and inflammation, and preserve joint function, and give you full use of your shoulder for whatever range of motion desired.

  • Osteoarthritis: The common “wear-and-tear” arthritis that occurs with aging. The shoulder is less often affected by osteoarthritis than the knee.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: A form of arthritis in which the immune system attacks the joints, causing inflammation and pain. Rheumatoid arthritis can affect any joint, including the shoulder.
  • Gout: A form of arthritis in which crystals form in the joints, causing inflammation and pain. The shoulder is an uncommon location for gout.
  • Rotator cuff tear: A tear in one of the muscles or tendons surrounding the top of the humerus. A rotator cuff tear may be a sudden injury, or result from steady overuse.
  • Shoulder impingement: The acromion (edge of the scapula) presses on the rotator cuff as the arm is lifted. If inflammation or an injury in the rotator cuff is present, this impingement causes pain.
  • Shoulder dislocation: The humerus or one of the other bones in the shoulder slips out of position. Raising the arm causes pain and a “popping” sensation if the shoulder is dislocated.
  • Shoulder tendonitis: Inflammation of one of the tendons in the shoulder’s rotator cuff.
  • Shoulder bursitis: Inflammation of the bursa, the small sac of fluid that rests over the rotator cuff tendons. Pain with overhead activities or pressure on the upper, outer arm are symptoms.
  • Laberal tear: An accident or overuse can cause a tear in the labrum, the cuff of cartilage that overlies the head of the humerus. Most labral tears heal without requiring surgery.

Most people have had a minor knee problem at one time or another. Most of the time our body movements do not cause problems, but it’s not surprising that symptoms develop from everyday wear and tear, overuse, or injury. Knee problems and injuries most often occur during sports or recreational activities, work-related tasks, or home projects.

The knee is the largest joint in the body. The upper and lower bones of the knee are separated by two discs (menisci). The upper leg bone (femur) and the lower leg bones (tibia and fibula) are connected by ligaments, tendons, and muscles. The surface of the bones inside the knee joint is covered by articular cartilage, which absorbs shock and provides a smooth, gliding surface for joint movement. See a picture of the structures of the knee camera.

Although a knee problem is often caused by an injury to one or more of these structures, it may have another cause. Some people are more likely to develop knee problems than others. Many jobs, sports and recreation activities, getting older, or having a disease such as osteoporosis or arthritis increase your chances of having problems with your knees.

Knee Problems and Injuries – Topic Overview

Problems not directly related to an injury or overuse may occur in or around the knee.

  • Osteoarthritis (degenerative joint disease) may cause knee pain that is worse in the morning and improves during the day. It often develops at the site of a previous injury. Other types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and lupus, also can cause knee pain, swelling, and stiffness.
  • Osgood-Schlatter disease causes pain, swelling, and tenderness in the front of the knee below the kneecap. It is especially common in boys ages 11 to 15.
  • A popliteal (or Baker’s) cyst causes swelling in the back of the knee.
  • Infection in the skin (cellulitis), joint (infectious arthritis), bone (osteomyelitis), or bursa (septic bursitis) can cause pain and decreased knee movement.
  • A problem elsewhere in the body, such as a pinched nerve or a problem in the hip, can sometimes cause knee pain.
  • Osteochondritis dissecans causes pain and decreased movement when a piece of bone or cartilage or both inside the knee joint loses blood supply and dies.

Treatment

Your doctor will first try to diagnose and treat the condition that is causing your joint pain. Treatment for a knee problem or injury may include first aid measures, rest, bracing, physical therapy, medicine, and in some cases surgery. Treatment depends on the location, type, and severity of the injury as well as your age, health condition, and activity level (such as work, sports, or hobbies. The goal is to reduce pain and inflammation, and preserve joint function, and give you full use of your knee for whatever range of motion desired. Chiropractic adjustments to align the knee joint will generally reduce any dysfunction of that particular joint, which is the cause of most symptoms.

The hip joint is designed to withstand repeated motion and a fair amount of wear and tear. This ball-and-socket joint — the body’s largest — fits together in a way that allows for fluid movement.

hip copy

Whenever you use the hip (for example, by going for a run), a cushion of cartilage helps prevent friction as the hip bone moves in its socket.

Despite its durability, the hip joint isn’t indestructible. With age and use, the cartilage can wear down or become damaged. Muscles and tendons in the hip can get overused. The hip bone itself can be fractured during a fall or other injury. Any of these conditions can lead to hip pain.

If your hips are sore, here is a rundown of what might be causing your discomfort and how to get hip pain relief.

Causes of Hip Pain

These are some of the conditions that are most likely to cause hip pain:

  • Arthritis . Arthritic conditions such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoidarthritis are among the most common causes of hip pain, especially in older adults.  Arthritis leads to inflammation of the hip joint and the breakdown of the cartilage that normally cushions your hip bones. The pain gradually gets worse as the arthritis progresses. People with arthritis also feel stiffness and have reduced range of motion in the hip.
  • Hip fractures. Fractures of the hip are a particular problem in elderly people. With age, the bones can become weak and brittle. Weakened bones are more likely to fracture during a fall.
  • Bursitis . Inflammation of the small, fluid-filled sacs (called bursae) that protect muscles and tendons is usually due to repetitive activities that overwork or irritate the hip joint.
  • Tendinitis . Tendons are the thick bands of tissue that attach bones to muscles. Tendinitis is inflammation or irritation of the tendons. It’s usually caused by repetitive stress from overuse.
  • Muscle or tendon strain. Repeated activities can put strain on the muscles, tendons, and ligaments that support the hips. When these structures become inflamed from overuse, they can causepain and prevent the hip from functioning normally.

Hip Pain: Causes and Treatment

Symptoms of Hip Pain

Depending on the condition that’s causing your hip pain, you might feel the discomfort in your:

  • thigh
  • inside of the hip joint
  • groin
  • outside of the hip joint
  • buttocks

Sometimes pain from other areas of the body, such as the back or groin (from a hernia), can radiate to the hip.

You might notice that your pain gets worse with activity, especially if it’s caused by arthritis. Along with the pain, you might have reduced range of motion. Some people develop a limp from persistent hip pain.

Hip Pain Relief

If your hip pain is caused by a muscle or tendon strain, osteoarthritis, or tendinitis, you can usually relieve it ice or hot packs (holding ice or hot packs to the area for about 15 minutes a few times a day) and range of motion stretching exercises. Chiropractic adjustments to align the pelvis and the hip will generally reduce any dysfunction of that particular joint, which is the cause of most symptoms.

If you have arthritis, exercising the hip joint with low-impact exercises, stretching, and resistance training can reduce pain and improve joint mobility. For example, swimming is a good non-impact exercise for arthritis. Physical therapy can also help increase your range of motion.

When osteoarthritis becomes so severe that the pain is intense or the hip joint becomes deformed, a total hipreplacement (arthroplasty) may be a consideration. People who fracture their hip sometimes need surgery to fix the fracture or replace the hip.

Call your health care provider if your pain doesn’t go away, or if you notice swelling, redness, or warmth around the joint. Also call if you have hip pain at night or when you are resting.

Get medical help right away if:

  • The hip pain came on suddenly.
  • A fall or other injury triggered the hip pain.
  • Your joint looks deformed or is bleeding.
  • You heard a popping noise in the joint when you injured it.
  • The pain is intense.
  • You can’t put any weight on your hip.