“Why Do My Joints Hurt?”

August 13th, 2018 Becki Andrus

If you’ve found yourself asking, “why do my joints hurt?” then it’s probably time to see a doctor. Joint pain is never a good sign, though it’s often easy to cope with and remedy. Still, it has myriad causes, and diagnosing them usually requires a medical degree. Some are clearer than others, but the different types of joint pain are innumerable.

“Why Do My Joints Hurt?”

Often asked right before or right after entering an orthopedic clinic, this is never a good phrase to have leave the lips. Joint pain is a difficult thing to deal with, although it certainly isn’t the worst thing in the world. Still, questions like these deserve an answer. Saying why, exactly, your joints hurt is something only a doctor can do. However, offering some approximation isn’t to difficult.

Especially common in older people, joint pain can come from many sources. Sometimes wear and tear, sometimes old age, there are more than hundreds of conditions that cause joint pain. These are some of the most common, how they manifest, and where they come from.


Osteoarthritis affects millions of people worldwide, making it far and away the most common form of arthritis. It can be found in any joint, but is most common in hands, fingers, knees, and hips. This is most likely because it is caused by overuse. Think for a moment about what you’re putting the most wear and tear on in a day: your hands and your legs will certainly come up. While the amount of walking we do in a day is sometimes invisible to us, our joints do not forget.

An early symptom of osteoarthritis is tenderness. The joint may feel soft to the touch, especially when pressure is applied. Inside the joint, you’re likely to feel some stiffness. It might become difficult to move. You may then lose flexibility in the joint and then experience pain. In some cases, osteoarthritis leads to bone spurs or extra pieces of bone around the joint.

Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage between your joints becomes worn down, mostly by overuse (as mentioned above). If you’ve spent years of your life doing hard work of any sort, you are at a greater risk for osteoarthritis because of this. Of course, this cartilage naturally becomes worn down, so it is difficult to combat osteoarthritis.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Related to osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis is nasty in its own right. An autoimmune disorder, rheumatoid arthritis is most likely to manifest as joint pain. However, it’s also been known to cause damage to almost all bodily systems, including the skin, heart, and lungs. Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when your body mistakes your own tissue as a foreign body and begins to attack it. It is perhaps simplest to think of rheumatoid arthritis as your body thinking it is an illness.

When you begin to experience rheumatoid arthritis, the first thing you are likely to notice is tender, warm joints. They will noticeably swell, and become stiff. This stiffness will be especially noticeable in the morning, or after other periods of long inactivity. After this, you may begin to experience fever, fatigue, and weight loss.

If you suspect you have rheumatoid arthritis, you should seek medical attention immediately. If you have persistent symptoms, it is absolutely imperative. Rheumatoid arthritis is a frightening thing and should be dealt with swiftly.

Lyme Disease

Similar to its arthritic friend, Lyme disease is a scary thing. Spread by ticks (the population of which is growing year by year), Lyme disease can kill you if left unchecked. You might be familiar with the disease, as it has gained prominence in recent years. Don’t let the fame fool you. Lyme disease is deadly and should be checked for.

The disease manifests early on as something of a terrible flu. You will be feverish and fatigued, and normally break out in a rash. Lyme disease is notable for it’s “bull’s eye” rash pattern, where a small infected area is surrounded by a larger one. This is a telltale sign, and if you see it on yourself or others you should seek medical help. Unfortunately, this sign appears in only 23% of cases, meaning you’ll have to look elsewhere to determine if Lyme disease is an issue. You should consider it if you have been in any heavily forested areas at any point.

Later stage Lyme disease can cause severe joint issues and is a likely cause of great pain or swelling. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should seek treatment immediately. The longer you go without it, the worse your hopes of being cured will become.

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