The first and most obvious symptom of joint pain is pain or discomfort in the joint. This pain can range in severity from mild to debilitating and present as a sharp, burning pain or a dull, constant ache. It can be constant and unremitting or come and go with specific triggers like the changing weather, overuse of the affected joint, or dietary factors. The pain can sometimes go away on its own after a few days or weeks, in which case it is known as acute joint pain; however, most people who suffer from joint pain experience chronic joint pain, meaning the pain never ceases or, at minimum, comes back very regularly.
Depending on the cause of your joint pain, you may also experience other symptoms above and beyond this pain and discomfort. These secondary symptoms can include:
Redness that accompanies joint pain generally manifests in the skin directly above and surrounding the joint. It gives the skin a red, splotchy character and can sometimes be warm to the touch, but not always. Redness of the joints is very common in arthritic joints and joints that have rheumatoid arthritis. This redness can also develop as the result of an acute injury to the joint or to the surrounding anatomical structures. Depending on the cause of the redness, it can be present in a single joint or multiple joints.
2. Stiffness and Swelling in the Joint
The inflammation that sometimes accompanies joint pain will generally cause the joint to swell and grow larger than it normally appears. This swelling is due to the build-up of fluid in the joint as a result of chronic inflammation. Furthermore, this excess fluid and resultant swelling can cause the joint to grow stiff, limiting the joint’s range of motion and increasing pain.
Fatigue and joint pain go hand in hand due to two critical components of joint pain: the inflammatory process and chronic pain that accompany joint pain. The body’s immune system is stressed as it fights the inflammatory cytokines (proteins) in the blood that accompany joint pain. This stress will in turn cause fatigue, especially when there is significant inflammation or it has been on-going for a long time. The second factor driving fatigue is the chronic pain itself, as pain and fatigue form a vicious cycle. Coping with joint pain for months or years can wear you down physically, mentally, and emotionally. And it can negatively affect your sleep hygiene, which adds to the exhaustion. Finally, being fatigued can make your pain worse and make the pain more difficult to manage.
4. Weight Gain
Joint pain makes it difficult to go through daily life, let alone make the effort to exercise consistently. This limited physical activity can easily lead to weight gain, which, in turn, makes joint pain worse. Joint pain can also disrupt sleep, which makes joint pain worse and can generate further weight gain.
In extreme cases, the inflammation that accompanies joint pain can be so severe that it causes a systemic response. When this happens, the body can go into a feverish state to fight off the perceived invaders.