Joint pain - something can be done!

Information on joint pain
Joint pain is very common and is something that can affect many people. It can also have many different causes, including tendon injuries,joint damage and various types of arthritis.

Arthritis is often associated with old people, but in fact there are many different kinds of arthritis that can affect people of all ages.Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and gout are the most common.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and usually in people over 40. It can be the result of joint damage from a single injury (such as a torn ligament in the knee) or the result of persistent joint overload over years (sometimes related to heavy work). Osteoarthritis usually occurs in the end joints of the fingers,at the base of the thumb, in the knees, big toes and feet. Typically the pain is worse with activity.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a type of inflammatory arthritis of unknown cause, associated with problems of the immune system. The white blood cells start attacking the joint lining tissue. Joints become painful with more than an hour of morning stiffness. It usually occurs in the knuckle joints or the middle joints in the fingers. It usually affects people aged 25 to 55, but can develop in anyone, including children.

Gout most commonly affects men and occurs when uric acid crystals form in the joints. It usually affects the big toe or foot, but can develop in any joint. There are complex reasons why this happens, but alcohol can be a big factor. Gout can be very painful and often occurs in episodes (periodically), disappearing after four or five days. People with gout get recurrent attacks.

Something can be done for all joint pain
If you are suffering from joint pain, there is no need to suffer in silence – something can be done. Joint pain can often be helped with simple treatments. For many people,muscle strengthening is a first step. If you can’t undo a jar or get out of a chair unaided, you need better strength.  For example, with knee pain, strengthening the large muscle in the thigh will stabilise the knee and significantly reduce pain. This allows you to increase your daily activity levels.

There are a range of painkillers that may help too. If you are suffering from joint pain or have any of the symptoms mentioned above, you should see your GP, who may refer you to a specialist for treatment.


Sources of information

There are a number of patient charities who can provide help, advice and support for people with all kinds of joint pain including arthritis.

Click here for a full list of patient organisations

Arthritis Care has a number of helpful fact sheets and booklets with information on different kinds of joint pain and arthritis. These can be ordered via the Arthritis Care website.

Arthritis Care also has a confidential telephone helpline which provides emotional and practical support and information. Lines are open between 10.00 and 16.00 every week day. You can call free of charge (from a UK landline) 0808 800 4050 to speak to someone, or email helplines@arthritiscare.org.uk  More information can be found on their website.

Arthritis Research UK has a large amount of information on their website, including downloadable guides on managing pain.

National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society (NRAS) is a patient-led national charity focusing entirely and specifically on rheumatoid arthritis. Their website includes a 'Help for you' area that contains information on their helpline, volunteer network, groups in your area, publications, self-management programmes and more.