Joint pain is very common as we get older. It is not unusual, once we hit about 50 and beyond, to complain of creaking knees and sore backs and hips. For some people, this pain begins even earlier. Sometimes it is due to overuse and feeling things more in our bodies than when we were younger, but very often the discomfort in our joints is due to a specific health condition.
Joint pain may be caused by issues like osteoarthritis, gout, rheumatoid arthritis, tendonitis, osteoporosis, or even an infection. Polymyalgia rheumatic (PMR) and temporal arteritis (TA) also affect the joints. PMR affects larger joints in the body, like the shoulders and hips, while TA affects blood vessels to the head.
And let’s not forget fibromyalgia, a chronic health condition that causes joint pain throughout the entire body. Depression too may cause joint pain—studies have found that people suffering from back, joint, and/or abdominal pain may also be dealing with depression.
So if you’ve spent the whole weekend doing yard work and you wake up on Monday morning feeling very sore and achy in your knees and back, chances are good you overdid it and in a few Advil later, you’ll be back to normal. But if you are consistently dealing with pain in your back, hips, shoulders, ankles, or other joints more days than not, it’s definitely time to head to your physician.
Chances are good that you will leave with a diagnosis of osteoarthritis, as it’s the most common reason for joint pain. However, at least one of the other explanations could be at fault and in all cases, proper medical care is essential, so don’t delay in seeking medical advice.
Why do we get these joint pains in the first place? There are upwards of 100 types of arthritis, and many feel it’s an illness that comes from a combination of problems- like genetics and diet.
In the case of osteoarthritis, the pain comes from the deterioration of the cartilage in the joints. Gout, which is also a form of arthritis, causes joint pain because uric acid crystals end up in the joints, usually in the arms and legs. Over time, gout can lead to osteoarthritis.