Tendon problems on woman's leg indicated with red spot; blog: Common Causes of Joint Inflammation

Joints can be found where two or more bones meet. They allow us to move our fingers, legs, toes, back, arms, and other body parts. In order to remain physically active and lead a high-quality life, maintaining healthy joints is crucial.

But according to researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 10.5 million people in the United States said they battled severe joint pain in 2002. By 2014, that number had jumped to 14.6 million.

The CDC defines “severe” joint pain as discomfort measuring 7 or more on a 1-to-10 scale, with 1 being no pain and 10 being “pain and aching as bad as it can be.”

To reduce or eliminate joint pain, it’s important to learn more about the common causes of joint inflammation.

What is Joint Inflammation?

There are several different types of joints in the human body. These joints include gliding joints, socket joints, hinge joints, and saddle joints. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for individuals of all ages to experience joint inflammation. 

A normal body reaction that is part of the immune response is known as inflammation. When the body has been injured, it benefits from inflammation because it assists with the healing process. Other times, however, inflammation that already exists leads to more inflammation and causes harm.

Causes of Joint Inflammation

One of the leading causes of chronic severe joint pain is arthritis which is characterized by swelling and tenderness of one or more of your joints.

Acute arthritis affecting multiple joints is most often due to

  • Viral infection
  • The beginning of a joint disorder or a flare up of an existing chronic joint disorder (such as rheumatoid arthritis or psoriatic arthritis)
  • Gout or calcium pyrophosphate arthritis (previously called pseudogout)

Less common causes of acute arthritis in multiple joints include Lyme disease (which also may affect only one joint), gonorrhea and streptococcal bacterial infections, reactive arthritis (arthritis that develops after an infection of the digestive or urinary tract), and gout.

Chronic arthritis affecting multiple joints is most often due to

  • Inflammatory disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, or systemic lupus erythematosus (in adults)
  • The noninflammatory disorder osteoarthritis (in adults)
  • Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (in children)

Some chronic inflammatory disorders can affect the spine as well as the limb joints (called the peripheral joints). Some affect certain parts of the spine more frequently. For example, ankylosing spondylitis more commonly affects the lower (lumbar) part of the spine, whereas rheumatoid arthritis more typically affects the upper (cervical) part of the spine in the neck.

The most common disorders outside the joints that cause pain around the joints are: 

  • Fibromyalgia
  • Polymyalgia rheumatica
  • Bursitis or tendinitis
  • Bursitis and tendinitis often result from injury, usually affecting only one joint. However, certain disorders cause bursitis or tendinitis in many joints.

Foods That May Trigger Joint Inflammation

Many patients at South Shore Orthopedics are surprised to learn that certain foods may trigger joint inflammation. If they suffer from this condition, we may encourage them to limit these types of foods:

  • Foods that are full of trans fats
  • Refined flour
  • Gluten
  • Processed sugars should be avoided as much as possible. 

Fresh fruits, veggies, fish, and lean proteins should be consumed instead.

When to Seek Help

If you are living with the discomfort of joint inflammation, we encourage you to schedule an appointment with South Shore Orthopedics today. 

Our orthopedic specialists have helped countless patients with joint inflammation find the relief they deserve. We specialize in joint replacement as well as degenerative joint conditions and take great pride in creating customized treatment plans for anyone who is suffering from joint pain.

If possible, our specialists will treat joint inflammation through non-invasive treatments such as anti-inflammatory medications, injections, splints or braces, and physical therapy. Movement therapies such as yoga, tai-chi, and Pilates may be recommended as well. Surgery is only necessary in cases when non-invasive treatments have not been effective.

To schedule an appointment, call our office at (781) 337-5555 or complete this appointment request form.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, SSO’s priority is keeping our patients and staff healthy and safe. Our office continues to operate on a daily basis Monday – Friday from 8 am – 4 pm and we have implemented CDC recommended procedures regarding temperature checks, social distancing, and face coverings. We have been focusing on seeing urgent or emergent cases in-office but have telehealth appointments for non-emergent cases. Click here to read our latest coronavirus update in its entirety.