What Makes Your Joints Hurt. 

 May 4, 2024

By  Linda Rook

various painful joint in your body.


Painful joints are a common complaint in this day and age, that affects millions of people worldwide. Joints are essential structures in the body that enables us to move and provide support. When they become painful, it can severely impact your mobility, quality of life, and overall well-being.

In this blog I shall delve in the underlying causes of joint pain, which can include injury and trauma, overuse of the joint, and much more…

I shall start will inflammation that comes with pain..

1. Inflammation.

Inflammation is one of the primary drivers of joint pain. Conditions like arthritis, both rheumatoid arthritis (an autoimmune disorder) and osteoarthritis (degenerative joint disease), involve inflammation of the joints. In these conditions, the body's immune system attacks the joint tissues, leading to swelling, pain, and stiffness.

Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis RA, which is an autoimmune disorder that attacks your synovium, which is the lining of your joints, with chronic inflammation.  The inflammation is a process of helping the area to heal, but it can bring swelling, pain, and in time can destroy the affected joint, becoming deformed.

Whereas osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease, that attacks the cartilage of the joint, that cushions the ends of the bone.  Osteoarthritis can develop in the elderly through wear and tear of the joint, it can also develop if you have an injury.  Leading to the joints pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility.

Driving with painful back.
OA of the Ankle.


In osteoarthritis, cells in the joint release substances like cytokines and chemokines, which cause inflammation. This inflammation leads to the breakdown of cartilage by activating enzymes that break it down. It also sets off a chain reaction that worsens joint damage, involving inflammation in the joint lining, changes in the bone beneath the cartilage, and the growth of bone spurs.

Chronic low-grade inflammation isn't just limited to rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA). It's also a factor in other joint problems like psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and reactive arthritis. In these conditions, the immune system acts up, causing ongoing inflammation in the joints, which results in pain, swelling, and damage to the joints over time.

Not only specific joint diseases, but broader inflammatory conditions like systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) can also affect the joints. Arthritis can be a part of these conditions too, showing how closely joint pain is tied to inflammation throughout the body.

2. Injury and Trauma.

Joint pain can also result from acute injury or trauma. Sprains, strains, fractures, and dislocations can damage the ligaments, tendons, cartilage, or bones within a joint, causing pain and limiting movement. Even minor injuries, if left untreated, can lead to chronic joint pain over time.

Injuries to joints can cause a lot of trouble, from sudden pain and trouble moving to long-lasting damage.

Let's break it down:

Sprains and Strains: These happen when you twist or stretch too hard, hurting the ligaments (connecting bones) or muscles and tendons (connecting muscles to bones). You might feel pain, swelling, or wobbliness in joints like the ankle, knee, or wrist.

Fractures and Dislocations: These are more serious injuries where bones break or joints get knocked out of place. They're super painful and can make the joint look weird and hard to move until it's fixed.

Sports Injury

Cartilage and Meniscal Injuries: Cartilage and menisci are like cushions in the joints, especially important in places like the knee. If they get hurt from a fall, repetitive stress, or just wearing out over time, you might feel pain, stiffness, or even hear weird sounds when moving your joint.

Chronic Overuse and Repetitive Motion: Doing the same movements over and over, like in sports or certain jobs, can mess up your joints too. Athletes might get runner's knee or tennis elbow, while folks with desk jobs could develop wrist or shoulder problems. These issues build up gradually and need changes in activity, better workspace setups, and sometimes therapy to fix.

3. Overuse and repetitive motions.

Overusing your joints can lead to a bunch of problems, like pain and swelling. below is how the overuse of the joints happen, and how you can help reduce the symptoms.

How it Happens: When you keep doing the same movements over and over, like lifting heavy stuff or running a lot, you strain the muscles, tendons, and ligaments around your joints. Over time, this can cause tiny injuries and inflammation, making your joints hurt and possibly damaging them.

Common Problems: There are a few common issues that come from overuse:

left knee inflamed and painful.

Tendinitis:  This is when the tendons (connective tissue between muscles and bones) get inflamed. You might hear about Achilles tendinitis in the heel or tennis elbow.

Bursitis: Small sacs that cushion your joints can get inflamed too, causing pain and swelling, often in the shoulder or hip.

Stress Fractures: Tiny cracks in your bones from repetitive pounding, like in your feet or shins.

Muscle Strains: When you stretch or tear your muscles from repetitive use, causing pain and weakness.

What Makes it Worse:

Bad Moves: Doing activities with bad form or overdoing it without proper rest can make things worse.

Wrong Gear: Wearing worn-out shoes or using equipment that does not fit right can mess up your joints more.

Environment: Hard surfaces or doing the same movements in tight spaces can add extra stress to your joints.

Prevention and Fixing:

Take it Slow: Gradually increase your activity level instead of jumping in too fast. Mix up your workouts and give yourself breaks.

Do it Right: Learn proper techniques for your activities to avoid putting too much strain on your joints.

Get Stronger and Stretch: Build up your muscles and flexibility to support your joints better.

Rest Up: Make sure to give yourself enough rest and recovery time. Also, check your gear to make sure it's not causing problems.

4. Age-related changes.

As we get older, joint pain becomes more common because our joints undergo changes. Here's what happens:

Cartilage Wear and Tear: The smooth tissue covering the ends of bones in our joints gets thinner and less elastic over time. This makes it easier to damage and reduces its ability to absorb shock, leading to more friction and wear on the joint surfaces.

Bone Changes: As cartilage breaks down, the bone underneath may develop bone spurs and thickening, especially in weight-bearing joints like knees and hips. These changes cause pain and inflammation.

Synovial Inflammation: The membrane lining our joints, which produces lubricating fluid, can become thicker and inflamed with age. This inflammation contributes to joint pain, especially in conditions like osteoarthritis, where inflammatory chemicals build up and worsen cartilage damage.

Ligament and Tendon Issues: The tissues supporting our joints become less elastic and more prone to injury, increasing the risk of strains and tears. This can lead to instability and altered movement patterns, causing more pain and dysfunction.

Bone Density Loss: Bones become less dense as we age, especially in women after menopause. This can lead to osteoporosis and an increased risk of fractures, adding to joint pain and limiting mobility.

Muscle Weakness and Alignment Changes: Muscles weaken, and joint alignment can shift as we age, putting more stress on certain joints. Poor posture and altered walking patterns can also contribute to pain and dysfunction.

To manage age-related joint pain, it's essential to stay active, maintain a healthy weight, and protect your joints. Regular exercise, proper nutrition, and joint protection strategies can help keep joints healthy and reduce pain as we age.

muscles and ligaments

5. Genetics.

Individual's susceptibility to joint pain conditions like arthritis. Certain genetic factors can predispose individuals to autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis or hereditary conditions that affect joint health.

Genetics really matters when it comes to joint pain. Here's why:

Different DNA, Different Risks: Everyone's genes are unique, and they can influence how likely we are to develop conditions like arthritis. For example, in rheumatoid arthritis (RA), certain genes involved in immune regulation, like HLA genes, play a big role.

Rheumatoid Arthritis RA: In RA, genes affecting the immune system, like those in the HLA-DRB1 gene, can increase the risk, especially if someone tests positive for specific antibodies. Other genes involved in inflammation also contribute.

OA and Genetics: Even in osteoarthritis (OA), where wear and tear are big factors, genetics matter too. Certain genes involved in cartilage maintenance and inflammation can make someone more prone to OA.

Inherited Troubles: Some conditions, like Ehlers-Danlos syndrome or Marfan syndrome, are inherited and affect how our connective tissues hold up. These can lead to joint problems like hypermobility or early-onset arthritis.

Getting Personal with Treatment: Understanding a person's genetic makeup can help tailor treatments. By knowing which genes are involved, doctors can choose the most effective therapies and avoid side effects.

Looking Ahead: With advances in genetic testing and treatment, we're moving towards more personalized care. By digging into our genes, we can find new ways to tackle joint pain and make treatments work better for everyone.

genes- a history in the family.

6. Obesity.

Being overweight really stresses out our joints, especially the ones we use the most like our knees, hips, and lower back. This extra weight can speed up how quickly our joint tissues wear down, making conditions like osteoarthritis more likely. On top of that, being obese often means dealing with chronic inflammation, which makes joint pain even worse.

Too Much Pressure: Every pound of extra weight puts several pounds of pressure on our knees, especially when we're moving around. Over time, this extra stress wears down our joints, causing pain and stiffness.

Bad News for Cartilage: Being obese means our body is constantly releasing inflammatory chemicals, which mess with our joint tissues. This inflammation breaks down the cushioning cartilage in our joints and stops it from repairing itself.

Joint Troubles: Carrying extra weight throws off how our joints work, making them unstable and more likely to get hurt. It can also mess with how our muscles support our joints, leading to pain and making us more prone to falls and injuries.

Inflammation Everywhere: Obesity is like having a low-level fire in our bodies all the time. Our fat cells pump out inflammatory chemicals that make joint pain worse and can even lead to conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.

Bad Habits, Bad Joints: Being overweight often comes with other unhealthy habits like sitting around too much and eating junk food. These make our muscles weak, our joints stiff, and our inflammation levels go through the roof.

To ease joint pain caused by obesity, it's important to tackle it from all angles. Losing weight, getting active, and eating better can all help. Strengthening muscles and protecting joints can also make a big difference in how we feel and move.

7. Metabolic Disorders.

Metabolic disorders like gout and diabetes can really mess with our joints, causing a lot of pain. Here is what's going on:

Gout and Pseudogout: Gout happens when uric acid crystals build up in our joints, usually the big toe, causing sudden, intense pain. Pseudogout is similar but involves calcium crystals instead. These crystals irritate our joints, leading to swelling and agony.

Obesity and Joint Trouble: Being overweight is a big problem for our joints, especially in our knees, hips, and spine. The extra weight puts a ton of stress on them, wearing them down faster and making them hurt more. Plus, being obese often means dealing with inflammation, which makes joint pain even worse.

Diabetes Complications: Diabetes, especially type 2, can mess up our joints too. High blood sugar and insulin resistance can damage our nerves and blood vessels, leading to problems like joint deformities and stiffness, and even a frozen shoulder.

Calcium and Joint Pain: Disorders like hyperparathyroidism or hypoparathyroidism mess with our calcium levels, which can affect our joints. Too much calcium can lead to painful deposits in our joints, while too little can cause muscle cramps and stiffness.

Lipid Disorders and Inflammation: Having high cholesterol and triglycerides in our blood can cause inflammation, making joint problems worse. It can speed up the damage in conditions like osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

To deal with joint pain caused by metabolic disorders, it's crucial to tackle the underlying issues. That means managing conditions like gout or diabetes, keeping a healthy weight, and making lifestyle changes like eating better and being more active. It might also involve working with a team of specialists to get the best care possible.

Diabetes Medication

8. Infection.

Infections can sometimes cause joint pain, although it's not as common as other reasons. Here's what you need to know:

Bacterial Arthritis (Septic Arthritis): This is a severe infection in the joint caused by bacteria like Staphylococcus or Streptococcus. It comes on suddenly with pain, swelling, and limited movement. Quick treatment with antibiotics is crucial to prevent lasting joint damage.

Viral Arthritis: Some viral infections can lead to joint pain and stiffness. Most of the time, it goes away on its own, but in severe cases, antiviral drugs might be needed.

Lyme Arthritis: This happens as a late stage of Lyme disease, which comes from tick bites. It usually affects one joint, like the knee, and can be treated with antibiotics.

Fungal and Parasitic Arthritis: In rare cases, fungal or parasitic infections can affect the joints, especially in people with weakened immune systems. Treatment involves antifungal or antiparasitic drugs along with anti-inflammatory medication.

Reactive Arthritis: This type of arthritis comes after an infection, often in the urinary or digestive tract. It causes joint pain, inflammation, and sometimes other symptoms like urinary problems or eye irritation. Treatment focuses on dealing with the original infection and easing the joint pain.

Infections causing joint pain need prompt attention to prevent long-term damage, so if you suspect one, it is essential to seek medical help right away.

Microscope of a infection or germ.

9. Autoimmune Disorders.

Autoimmune disorders like lupus, psoriatic arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis can cause joint pain by making the immune system mistakenly attack healthy joint tissues. Let us break it down:

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA): RA causes joint pain, swelling, and stiffness by making the immune system attack the lining of the joints. It often affects small joints in the hands and feet and needs prompt treatment to prevent lasting damage.

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE): SLE is an autoimmune disease that can affect many parts of the body, including the joints. It causes joint pain and swelling, along with other symptoms like fatigue and skin rashes.

Sjogren's Syndrome: This condition causes dry eyes and mouth due to immune attacks on glands. It can also lead to joint pain and inflammation, often like rheumatoid arthritis.

Rash on the arm or psoriasis.

Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS): AS mainly affects the spine and sacroiliac joints, causing stiffness and pain. It is linked to a specific gene and involves inflammation where ligaments and tendons attach to bones.

Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA): PsA happens in people with psoriasis, a skin condition. It can affect any joint, causing pain, swelling, and damage.

Treatment involves medications to calm the immune system, ease inflammation, and protect the joints. Physical therapy and lifestyle changes can also help manage symptoms and improve quality of life. Early diagnosis and ongoing care are essential for controlling these conditions and preventing long-term joint damage.

10. Other Medical Conditions.

Various medical conditions can indirectly cause joint pain. For instance, fibromyalgia, a chronic pain disorder, often accompanies joint pain and stiffness. Similarly, conditions like Lyme disease or certain cancers can lead to joint pain as a secondary symptom.

Apart from metabolic disorders and autoimmune conditions, other medical issues can affect joint health, causing pain, swelling, and reduced mobility.

Osteoporosis: This bone condition weakens bones, increasing the risk of fractures and joint problems, especially in weight-bearing joints like hips, knees, and spine. Treatment involves lifestyle changes, supplements, and medication to strengthen bones and prevent fractures.

Fibromyalgia: This condition brings chronic pain, mainly affecting muscles and soft tissues. However, it can also cause joint pain and stiffness due to altered pain processing. Treatment includes medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes.

Thyroid Disorders: Both overactive (hyperthyroidism) and underactive (hypothyroidism) thyroid conditions can impact joints. Hyperthyroidism can weaken bones and cause fractures, while hypothyroidism can lead to stiffness and swelling. Treatment focuses on balancing thyroid hormones and managing symptoms.

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD): CKD affects bones and minerals, leading to joint pain, osteoarthritis, and fractures. It can also cause inflammation and cartilage damage. Treatment involves kidney health, managing minerals, and addressing joint issues.


Cancer and Paraneoplastic Syndromes: Cancer can spread to bones or cause rheumatic disorders, resulting in joint pain. Treatment focuses on targeting cancer, managing pain, and providing support.

Hematologic Disorders: Conditions like anaemia, sickle cell disease, and haemophilia can affect joints through bleeding or bone issues. Treatment aims to support health, manage pain, and prevent joint problems.

Understanding how these conditions affect joints helps in managing and preventing long-term complications.


Painful joints can have various causes, including inflammation, injury, metabolic disorders, and autoimmune conditions. For crucial accurate diagnosis and treatment, it is vital to understand the causes. Treatment options may include medication, physical therapy, lifestyle changes, or surgery. Early intervention can help manage pain and improve quality of life.

Pain results from many factors, like overuse, metabolic issues, or autoimmune diseases. Conditions like obesity, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis contribute to joint pain through inflammation and tissue damage. Infections and other medical problems, such as osteoporosis or cancer, can also impact joint health. A holistic treatment approach involves lifestyle adjustments, medications, therapy, and sometimes surgery. By addressing the root causes and using targeted treatments, healthcare providers can help individuals manage pain and improve their well-being. Ongoing research is vital for advancing our understanding and treatment of joint pain.

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I am not a medical professional, and this blog is for information only. If you have any worries you should consult your doctor.

I hope this blog has helped.


Other Information.



Linda Rook

Linda is now retired and has suffered from Osteoarthritis for about 40+ years.  She struggled with her weight until she found the correct one that also helped with her arthritic pain.  Linda was in terrible pain until the physician thought her right hip needed replacement. 

Now Linda has an artificial right hip, which has left her with the left leg shorter than the right.  Therefore, her spine is now wonky, and has arthritis of the lower back, also it seems to be going all over the body, her pain is now in the knees, elbow, wrist, fingers and both hips.

Linda now spends her days writing information to help others with the same conditions, so they do not suffer like Linda.

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