Joint pain occurs when any of the anatomical components of a joint breakdown, degrade or are damaged by disease or injury. This can happen through acute traumatic injury or slowly over time.
Some of the most common mechanisms driving joint pain include:
Inflammation is the body’s natural way of protecting itself. An inflammatory response can be triggered in response to a variety of stimuli, including infection or the presence of foreign bodies. It is, ironically, the way the body heals itself. However, inflammation in the joints is one of the most common mechanisms through which people experience pain, stiffness, and swelling. This is the mechanism that causes joint pain in almost all forms of arthritis, as well as other autoimmune conditions that cause joint pain.
Bursitis is a common, painful condition in which the small, fluid-filled sacs, called bursae, that cushion the joints becomes inflamed. The bones, tendons, and muscles of the joints need bursae to cushion and lubricate their movement, and if the bursae becomes inflamed it can cause significant pain in the joint. The most common locations for bursitis are in the shoulder, elbow, and hip. However, bursitis can also affect the knee, heel and the base of your big toe. Bursitis often occurs in the joints that you ask to perform repetitive motion. Treatment for bursitis typically involves resting the affected joint and protecting it from further irritation. In most cases, the pain of bursitis will go away within a few weeks, but recurrent flare-ups of bursitis are common.
Gout is a very common and complicated form of arthritis that can strike anyone. The condition is characterized by abrupt, relentless attacks of pain, swelling, redness, and tenderness in the joints. While gout can strike in any joint of the body, the most often affected joint is the one at the base of the big toe. A gout episode can happen seemingly out of nowhere, often waking a sufferer up out of a deep sleep with the unpleasant sensation that their big toe is on fire. Gout-ridden joints are often hot, swollen and so tender to the touch that even the weight of a flat sheet can seem intolerable. While symptoms may come and go, there are some proven ways to manage symptoms and prevent flareups.
In serious, traumatic injuries, it is possible to bleed into the synovial space of a joint. This bleeding can lead to swelling, inflammation, and pain in the affected joint. Bleeding into the joint space is also a common side effect of clotting disorders like hemophilia.
5. Fracture or Dislocation
Fractures or dislocations can both cause significant joint pain. A dislocation is an injury to a joint wherein the bones of a joint are forced out of their normal position. It’s a terribly painful injury that leaves a joint temporarily immobile until the joint is reset into place. A fracture, which is a break in the bone, can also cause joint pain if left untreated over time.
6. Avascular Necrosis
Avascular necrosis is a serious medical condition wherein the bone tissue dies due to a lack of blood supply. The condition is also known as osteonecrosis and it can lead to tiny fractures in the bone that lead to the bone’s eventual collapse in on itself. A bone can lose its blood supply as a result of a fracture or dislocation that interrupts the blood flow to a section of bone or the bone entirely. It can also be the result of the long-term use of high-dose steroids and excessive alcohol intake. While anyone can get avascular necrosis, the condition is most common in people between the ages of 30 and 50.