Common Causes of Joint Pain

According to Dr. Mary Ambach and Dr. Christopher Rogers, joint pain is commonly experienced in the knees, hips and hands, but can occur in any joint. Stiffness, aching, swelling or warmth are typical signs of arthritis. Joint pain can limit the ability to perform daily functions and may significantly affect quality of life.


Osteoarthritis is a chronic disease that slowly degenerates the protective cartilage in your joints. It is the most common joint disorder in the United States. Although it tends to affect older adults, it can also occur in younger people as a result of injury or overuse.


Tendinitis occurs when there is irritation and swelling of the tendons. It is caused by acute or repetitive trauma causing inflammation and thickening.  Repetitive motions or sports can cause tendon injury.  Symptoms include pain, swelling and limited motion of the involved joint.


Bursitis occurs when there is inflammation or irritation of the bursa – a fluid-filled sac that cushions tendons and muscles near your joints. Bursitis often occurs near joints that perform frequent repetitive motion.

Systemic Conditions

Joint pain may be a manifestation of an underlying medical condition such as infection, hormone disorders, rheumatologic conditions, blood disorders, gout, cancer or vasculitis.

Joint manifestations are variable and can include pain, swelling, stiffness, and joint deformities.

Care and Treatment 

There are many effective treatments for providing joint pain relief. Most of these conditions can be treated through non-surgical means such as rehabilitation or anti-inflammatory medications.  More severe conditions may require advanced interventions such as surgery. Early detection will result in a more effective treatment.


Simple home remedies like ice, heating pad, rest and elevation may offer symptomatic relief.

Braces, canes or orthotic devices can help support the joint and allow for easier movement.


Anti-inflammatory medications can help decrease swelling and pain. Tylenol and other pain relievers can help provide relief.  For more severe pain, stronger pain killers like opioid analgesics may be prescribed. If you have a history of stomach ulcers, kidney disease, or liver disease, consult your physician to see which medications will be safe for you.

Physical therapy and exercise

Therapeutic exercise can help decrease pain and improve strength and function. Walking, swimming, stretching or low impact exercises can help maintain flexibility and strength.


If you fail conservative treatments, you may benefit from injection therapies. Steroid injections are the most common injections performed for painful joints. Steroids can provide immediate relief of pain and swelling. However, the relief is often temporary, and steroids can have side effects of causing further tissue injury, osteoporosis and hormonal imbalance particularly if used repetitively.


Surgery may be an option if you fail conservative options or if you have a severe condition causing joint instability. Surgical options for cartilage damage and osteoarthritis include arthroscopic cartilage repair, removal of loose bodies or total joint replacement.

Joint pain can be extremely uncomfortable and physically limiting if left unmanaged. Fortunately, many effective treatments are available. Work with your doctor to identify the cause of the joint pain and to form a treatment plan that is best for you. For more information on San Diego Orthobiologics Medical Group, you can visit their website.

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