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Joint Pain

What Is Joint Pain?

Our joints help our bones and bodies move throughout the day – allowing us to work around the house, sit at a desk or enjoy our favorite activities, like walking, running or swimming. But when the connective tissue in our joints becomes damaged from an injury, illness or health condition, it can make even the simplest movement painful and difficult.

Joint pain is common. Nearly 30 percent of respondents to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey reported having joint pain that lasted for three or more months. Joint pain can be experienced in any part of the body. The most common areas affected include the knees, hips, fingers and shoulders.


There is a wide range of conditions and injuries that can cause joint pain, including:

  • Arthritis – There are more than 100 types of arthritis and related conditions that can cause joint pain. Arthritis can affect anyone. The most common types of arthritis that cause joint pain include:

    • Osteoarthritis – Cartilage (the cushioning that works as a shock absorber between bones) naturally deteriorates and wears away as we age or after some injuries. This causes bones to rub against each other, which can result in swelling, stiffness and pain with activities.

    • Inflammatory arthritis – The two most common types of inflammatory arthritis are rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis.

    • Infectious arthritis – An infection can trigger inflammation in the joint, which leads to pain and stiffness. Antibiotics can treat the infection, but sometimes arthritis may become chronic after an infection.

    • Metabolic arthritis – Uric acid can build up in joints, causing sudden and extreme pain. Gout is a type of metabolic arthritis.

  • Broken or fractured bones – Injury to the bones, including fractures or dislocations, can cause pain at the joint.

  • Bursitis – Bursae are small, fluid-filled sacs. These can become inflamed and cause joint stiffness and discomfort, most commonly in the shoulder, elbow and hip.

  • Cancer – Bone cancer can cause pain in the joints.

  • Lyme disease – Spread by a bite from an infected tick, Lyme disease can cause Lyme arthritis and joint pain.

  • Sprains and strains – When the muscles or ligaments in or around the joints are injured, they can become stretched or torn creating swelling, instability and discomfort.

  • Tendinitis – Tendinitis is an inflammation of tendons, tissues which attach muscles to bone. Often created by overuse, tendinitis can create stiffness.

When to Seek a Specialist

Fortunately, joint pain can often be managed conservatively. If pain lasts longer than two weeks or is accompanied by any of the below symptoms, contact your primary care provider:

  • Swelling

  • Redness

  • Tenderness

  • Warmth around the joint

When to Seek Immediate Medical Attention

Joint pain is generally not an emergency. However, if joint pain is caused by a sudden injury and you notice any of the following, seek immediate medical attention:

  • Joint looks deformed

  • Unable to use or put weight on the joint

  • Severe pain

  • Sudden swelling

A Tailored Plan to Treat Your Joint Pain

Joint pain is a unique journey: Pain and symptoms can vary across individuals, and treatment plans should be customized to meet patients’ unique needs. At Temple Health, our orthopedic providers offer comprehensive care for knee, hip, foot, ankle, shoulder, hand and upper extremity pain.

With five convenient locations across Philadelphia, we’re making it easy to get the care you need. We offer:

  • A multidisciplinary team, including physicians, surgeons, physical therapists and rehabilitation specialist, working together to help manage your joint pain

  • Highly qualified physicians who are board certified or board eligible in orthopedic surgery

  • Highest quality care at an academic institution

  • Latest advances in treating joint pain, including nonsurgical and surgical options

Ready for an Appointment?

If you're experiencing signs or symptoms of joint pain, schedule an appointment or call 800-TEMPLE-MED (800-836-7536) today.

Learn more about our doctors and care team who diagnose and treat joint pain.