Joint/ muscle pain
What is joint pain?
Joint pain is discomfort that arises from any joint. The medical word for joint pain is arthralgia. This is different to the word arthritis, which means inflammation of the joint, which causes pain and sometimes warmth, redness and/or swelling of the joint. A joint can be painful without being inflamed, or it can be both painful and inflamed.
Joint pain may affect just one joint or it may affect many different joints. The pattern of the joint pain in terms of how many and which joints are affected will depend on the underlying cause.
Some causes of joint pain require urgent treatment. For example:
- If you have an infection in a joint (septic arthritis) then you will need to be seen in hospital as an emergency.
- If you have a broken bone (fracture) which involves a joint.
- If you are thought to have rheumatoid arthritis then you will need an urgent appointment with a specialist because starting treatment early will reduce the risk of long-term
When should you see a doctor?
Make an appointment with your doctor if your joint pain is accompanied by:
- Tenderness and warmth around the joint.
See a doctor immediately if your joint pain is caused by an injury and is accompanied by:
- Joint deformity.
- Inability to use the joint.
- Intense pain.
- Sudden swelling.
See a doctor if you have any concerns, especially if:
- You feel unwell.
- You have a persisting fever.
- You have other symptoms such as night sweats or weight loss.
- The pain persists for more than two weeks.
- The pain is not relieved by simple medicines for pain relief such as paracetamol or ibuprofen.
- You are getting joint pain at night, or pain which wakes you in the night.