Joint Pain, General

There are many possible causes of joint pain. The causes can be divided into categories:

Wear-and-tear, such as from overuse, injury, or osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, or joint inflammation.

Conditions that affect metabolism, such as gout and pseudogout. These conditions result from materials being deposited into the joints.

Infections of the joint, sometimes called septic arthritis. Infections usually spread to the joint from other areas of the body. Gonorrhea and syphilis, two sexually transmitted diseases, can cause joint pain. Lyme disease, an infection that results from a tick bite, and other infections can also cause arthritis. Viruses, like the flu virus, can casue temporary joint pain.

Reactive arthritis, which means joint pain and inflammation caused by infections in other areas of the body. This type of joint pain can result from infectious diarrhea or the sexually transmitted disease chlamydia.

Autoimmune disorders, in which a person’s body produces antibodies against its own tissues. These disorders include rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus.

Bone diseases, such as Paget’s disease, which causes inflamed bones and bone tumors or cancer near joints.

Medications, such as penicillin or procainamide.

Allergy, such as to dairy products. Here is one testimony we received:

To Whom It May Concern,

Thank you for your informational website!

I may have finally found an answer to my joint and muscle pain/arthritis. I read with interest “Dairy Products Avoidance”…someone, named Tom, had written a letter about his wife, Catherine, and her debilitating arthritis that cleared after eliminating dairy from her diet.

I too have extremely painful joints and muscles after consuming cheese, which started many years ago. These symptoms of pain affect my ability to function in any capacity. The onset of symptoms occurs with other dairy products now as well.

Thank you so much, as I have been dismissed by my General Practitioner, who claimed he had never heard such a thing, Internist, Rheumatologist, and Allergist (my blood tests were not positive for milk) Therefore, I believe it may be a chemical reaction.

Again, thank you for your website. It has provided valuable information, and validation!

Best Wishes,

Lisa

You should see specific conditions suggested in your report and their treatments. Other causes are also possible, and in some cases, no cause can be found.

(2007) Mice that don’t produce lubricin, a thin film of protein found in the cartilage of joints, showed early wear and higher friction in their joints, a new study led by Brown University researchers shows.

This link between increased friction and early wear in joints is a first; no other team of scientists has proven this association before. The finding, published in Arthritis & Rheumatism, sheds important light on how joints work. The discovery also suggests that lubricin, or a close cousin, could be injected directly into hips, knees or other joints inflamed from arthritis or injury — a preventive treatment that could reduce the need for painful and costly joint replacement surgery.

In an editorial that accompanies the journal article, orthopedics researchers from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago call the research an “important contribution to the field” and note that the use of biomolecules like lubricin to prevent joint wear “could have a substantial clinical impact, if successful.”

Gregory Jay, M.D, a Rhode Island Hospital emergency physician and an associate professor of emergency medicine and engineering at Brown, led the research. For 20 years, Jay has studied lubricin’s role as a “boundary lubricant” by reducing friction between opposing layers of cartilage inside joints. In this new work, Jay and his colleagues set out to answer the next question: Does reducing friction actually prevent wear, or surface damage, in joints?

To find out, Jay and his team studied cartilage from the knees of mice that don’t produce lubricin. Directly after birth, the cartilage was smooth. But in as little as two weeks, researchers found, the cartilage began to show signs of wear. Under an electron microscope, scientists could see that the collagen fibers that cartilage is composed of were breaking up, giving the surface a rough, frayed appearance. This damage is called wear, an early sign of joint disease or injury.

Jay and his team then took the work a step further. To better understand how lubricin works, they tried to see the structure of the film. So they put a tiny bit of the protein under an atomic force microscope. At the nanoscale, the molecule appeared as a mesh — row upon row of interlocking fibers — that could repel a microscope probe. This repulsion, created with water and electrical charges, shows how lubricin acts as a buffer, keeping opposing layers of cartilage apart.

“We demonstrated that lubricin reduces both friction and wear and also showed how, on a molecular level, it does this work in the body,” Jay said. “What’s exciting are the clinical implications. Arthritis and sports injuries damage the joints of thousands of people in the United States and millions of people worldwide each year. Our aim is to make a treatment that can actually prevent wear in the joints.”

Through Rhode Island Hospital, Jay has filed two patents on the protein and its sequences and, in 2004, helped form Tribologics, a biotech company formed out of Rhode Island Hospital. The Massaschusetts-based business is developing an injection treatment for inflamed joints that contains lubricin.

 


Signs, symptoms & indicators of Joint Pain, General

Symptoms - Muscular  

Shoulder pain



Symptoms - Skeletal  

Joint pain/swelling/stiffness



 

(Severe) chronic joint pain



 

Migrating arthritis



 

Lower back pain



 

Neck pain




Conditions that suggest Joint Pain, General

Musculo-Skeletal  



Risk factors for Joint Pain, General

Autoimmune  

Microscopic Colitis (Collagenous Colitis / Lymphocytic Colitis)

Patients sometimes seek treatment for an elusive form of arthritis as much as ten years prior to problems with diarrhea. This atypical arthritis can affect the back, hips and sometimes ribs. It can come and go, and can change locations.



Circulation  


Environment / Toxicity  


Hormones  


Infections  


Medications  


Metabolic  


Musculo-Skeletal  


Organ Health  


Symptoms - Skeletal  

History of lower back pain




Joint Pain, General suggests the following may be present

Circulation  


Infections  



Recommendations for Joint Pain, General

Animal-based  


Botanical  

Turmeric Extract, Curcumin

A 2006 study suggested turmeric had a better effect in preventing joint inflammation than reducing inflammation. Research in 2010 showed long-term improvement in pain and functioning for 100 patients with osteoarthritis in the knee after taking a turmeric supplement with curcumin. A small study in 2012 indicated that BCM-95, a curcumin product, worked better at reducing joint pain and swelling for patients than a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, or NSAID.

For osteoarthritis, the Arthritis Foundation recommends taking 400 mg to 600 mg turmeric capsules three times a day, or using powdered root of 0.5 g to 1 g up to 3 g per day. For rheumatoid arthritis, 500 mg twice a day is recommended.

The foundation warned that turmeric can act as a blood thinner and cause upset stomach.



 

Herbal Combinations

ViaViente is used by some doctors to reduce joint pain, especially in the hands.



 

Antiinflammatory Combination Products

Please also see the link between Joint Pain and Herbal Combinations.



 


Mineral  

MSM (Methyl Sulfonyl Methane)

One preliminary double-blind study, conducted by UCLA School of Medicine professor Ronald Lawrence, M.D., Ph.D., followed 16 patients with degenerative arthritis or joint disease. The patients who took MSM daily over a six-week period reported an 80% reduction in pain. Only two of those taking the placebo reported decreased pain (20% [Journal of Anti-Aging Medicine, July 1998]



 

Molybdenum

See the link between Low Back Pain and Molybdenum.



Oriental Medicine  

Acupressure

A new study of acupuncture (2012) — the most rigorous and detailed analysis of the treatment to date — found that it can ease migraines, arthritis and other forms of chronic pain.

The findings provide strong scientific support for an age-old therapy used by an estimated three million Americans each year. Though acupuncture has been studied for decades, the body of medical research on it has been mixed and mired to some extent by small and poor-quality studies. Financed by the National Institutes of Health and carried out over about half a decade, the new research was a detailed analysis of earlier research that involved data on nearly 18,000 patients. [Arch Intern Med. Published online September 10, 2012. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2012.3654]



Physical Medicine  

Cold Applications

A ground breaking ice pack, which reduces pain and improves joint mobility among osteoarthritis patients and helps athletes recover quicker and more effectively from injury or surgery, has been launched by North Yorkshire healthcare innovations company – Salitas

The revolutionary MORPH TM Cryo-Matrix remains colder up to 12 times longer than conventional gel packs and is not wet or messy and is easy to prepare and apply.

It can be programmed to stay at a constant ‘cold’ temperature (with a skin interface temperature in the ideal (7-12°C zone) for up to four hours, as opposed to the 20 minutes associated with conventional gel packs.

It is made from a unique matrix structure that moulds to the patients’ contours, even when they are moving; allowing patients to receive treatment whilst taking part in exercise, training schedules or physiotherapy programmes.

These unique features allow joints and muscles to be kept at the right temperature, for the right amount of time, promoting faster recovery rates after surgery or injury.



Psychological  

Visualization / Relaxation Techniques

(2009) A study by UCLA psychologists suggests that just the thought of a loved one reduces pain, underscoring the importance of social relationships and staying socially connected.

The study, which asked whether simply looking at a photograph of your significant other can reduce pain, involved 25 women, mostly UCLA students, who had boyfriends with whom they had been in a good relationship for more than six months.

The women received moderately painful heat stimuli to their forearms while they went through a number of different conditions. In one set of conditions, they viewed photographs of their boyfriend, a stranger and a chair.

“When the women were just looking at pictures of their partner, they actually reported less pain to the heat stimuli than when they were looking at pictures of an object or pictures of a stranger,” said study co-author Naomi Eisenberger, assistant professor of psychology and director of UCLA’s Social and Affective Neuroscience Laboratory. “Thus, the mere reminder of one’s partner through a simple photograph was capable of reducing pain.”

“This changes our notion of how social support influences people,” she added. “Typically, we think that in order for social support to make us feel good, it has to be the kind of support that is very responsive to our emotional needs. Here, however, we are seeing that just a photo of one’s significant other can have the same effect.”

In another set of conditions, each woman held the hand of her boyfriend, the hand of a male stranger and a squeeze ball. The study found that when women were holding their boyfriends’ hands, they reported less physical pain than when they were holding a stranger’s hand or a ball while receiving the same amount of heat stimulation.

“This study demonstrates how much of an impact our social ties can have on our experience and fits with other work emphasizing the importance of social support for physical and mental health,” Eisenberger said.

One practical piece of advice the authors give is that the next time you are going through a stressful or painful experience, if you cannot bring a loved one with you, a photo may do.



Skin  


Surgery/Invasive  

Prolotherapy

Joint pain caused by or associated with ligament or tendon injury responds very well to Prolotherapy.



Key

Weak or unproven link
Strong or generally accepted link
Proven definite or direct link
May do some good
Likely to help
Highly recommended

Glossary

Arthritis

Inflammation of a joint, usually accompanied by pain, swelling, and stiffness, and resulting from infection, trauma, degenerative changes, metabolic disturbances, or other causes. It occurs in various forms, such as bacterial arthritis, osteoarthritis, or rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis, the most common form, is characterized by a gradual loss of cartilage and often an overgrowth of bone at the joints.

Metabolism

The chemical processes of living cells in which energy is produced in order to replace and repair tissues and maintain a healthy body. Responsible for the production of energy, biosynthesis of important substances, and degradation of various compounds.

Gout

A disease characterized by an increased blood uric acid level and sudden onset of episodes of acute arthritis.

Gonorrhea

A sexually-transmitted disease that is often without symptoms. If there are symptoms in the female, they include frequent and painful urination, cloudy vaginal discharge, vaginal itching, inflammation of the pelvic area, and abnormal uterine bleeding. If the male has a purulent (pus-like) urethral discharge, he should assume he has gonorrhea until proven otherwise.

Syphilis

A sexually-transmitted disease, with symptoms in the early contagious stages being a sore on the genitalia, a rash, patches of flaking tissue, fever, a sore throat, and sores in the mouth or anus.

Virus

Any of a vast group of minute structures composed of a protein coat and a core of DNA and/or RNA that reproduces in the cells of the infected host. Capable of infecting all animals and plants, causing devastating disease in immunocompromised individuals. Viruses are not affected by antibiotics, and are completely dependent upon the cells of the infected host for the ability to reproduce.

Diarrhea

Excessive discharge of contents of bowel.

Chlamydia

A sexually-transmitted disease that is often without symptoms. Some females experience a white vaginal discharge that resembles cottage cheese, a burning sensation when urinating, itching, and painful intercourse. A clear watery urethral discharge in the male probably is a chlamydia infection.

Autoimmune Disease

One of a large group of diseases in which the immune system turns against the body's own cells, tissues and organs, leading to chronic and often deadly conditions. Examples include multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus, Bright's disease and diabetes.

Antibody

A type of serum protein (globulin) synthesized by white blood cells of the lymphoid type in response to an antigenic (foreign substance) stimulus. Antibodies are complex substances formed to neutralize or destroy these antigens in the blood. Antibody activity normally fights infection but can be damaging in allergies and a group of diseases that are called autoimmune diseases.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

A long-term, destructive connective tissue disease that results from the body rejecting its own tissue cells (autoimmune reaction).

Cancer

Refers to the various types of malignant neoplasms that contain cells growing out of control and invading adjacent tissues, which may metastasize to distant tissues.

Allergy

Hypersensitivity caused by exposure to a particular antigen (allergen), resulting in an increased reactivity to that antigen on subsequent exposure, sometimes with harmful immunologic consequences.

Protein

Compounds composed of hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen present in the body and in foods that form complex combinations of amino acids. Protein is essential for life and is used for growth and repair. Foods that supply the body with protein include animal products, grains, legumes, and vegetables. Proteins from animal sources contain the essential amino acids. Proteins are changed to amino acids in the body.

Cartilage

Specialized fibrous connective tissue that forms the skeleton of an embryo and much of the skeleton in an infant. As the child grows, the cartilage becomes bone. In adults, cartilage is present in and around joints and makes up the primary skeletal structure in some parts of the body, such as the ears and the tip of the nose.

Rheumatism

General term applied to conditions of pain, or inability to articulate, various elements of the musculoskeletal system.

Collagen

The primary protein within white fibers of connective tissue and the organic substance found in tendons, ligaments, cartilage, skin, teeth and bone.

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