Joint pain

Causes | Diagnosis | Treatment

Joint pain is extremely common.  The most often affected joints are the knee and shoulder, followed by hip; however joint pain can affect any joint in the body from your ankles and feet to your shoulders, elbows, and hands.  Painful joints become increasingly more common as people age.

Joint pain can range from mild, causing slight soreness whenever you move the joint, to debilitating, making it impossible to use that joint.  Joint pain may go away after a few weeks or may linger on, or come and go.  Even short-term pain and joint swelling can affect your quality of life.


What Causes Joint Pain?

There are many things that can cause joint pain including arthritis, osteoarthritis, bursitis as well as sprains and strains.  Simple overuse of a joint can also cause pain.  More serious underlying conditions such as lupus, bone or other infections, fibromyalgia, osteoporosis, and cancer can also cause joint pain which is why proper diagnosis is extremely important in order to identify the correct treatment path.

Diagnosing Joint Pain

Because there are so many different variables associated with joint pain, your doctor will gather information to build your medical history in order to help identify possible causes of your joint pain.  They will also discuss your symptoms, identify the location of pain, onset of pain, rule out injury or pre-existing conditions, etc.  They will perform an examination and may also order X-rays, diagnostic ultrasound, CT scans, or MRI in order to rule out underlying conditions.


Treating Joint Pain

The treatment for joint pain will vary and is dependent on the cause of the pain.  Mild joint pain from non-serious causes can be treated conservatively and may include rest, hot or cold applications, topical pain creams, physical therapy, or possible pain medications.  Our experts at SCU Health System will evaluate each patient on an individual basis to determine which treatment will be the least invasive and provide the most benefit.  Our treatments at SCU Health include:

  • Acupuncture – clinical studies have shown acupuncture to be effective in treating joint pain associated with arthritic conditions and may stimulate healing and decrease pain from injuries.
  • Chiropractic Care – chiropractic techniques and manipulation to joints with restricted movement can increase mobility and relieve pain.  Therapeutic exercise is almost always prescribed.
  • Physical Therapy Modalities/Procedures – these may include cold laser, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, and therapeutic exercise.
  • Sports Medicine – our Sports Medicine team treats patients of any level of fitness and works with them to develop a customized treatment plan whether the joint pain is due to an injury or post-operative rehabilitation.
  • Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy (PRP) – research has shown that PRP therapy improves clinical outcomes and decreases further degeneration in patients suffering with osteoarthritis and other joint diseases or injuries.
  • Stem Cell Therapy – studies have shown that stem cell therapy can relieve pain from osteoarthritis, chronic tendonitis, as well as cartilage tears and other joint conditions.
  • Whole-Person Assessment – in some complex cases, factors such as diet, lifestyle, sleep, stress, insulin-sensitivity, gene-environment interactions, and hormone levels may interfere with a person’s ability to heal, and may need to be addressed.

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