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Why do joints ache and hurt?

There are many reasons why your joints may ache and hurt, including:

Inflammation inside the joints – This irritates the nerve endings and causes pain.

Worn or damaged cartilage – Cartilage has no nerve endings so you may not know if it’s damaged. But if your cartilage is badly worn, the bone underneath may also begin to wear and change shape. This can be very painful because your bones do contain nerve endings.

Putting extra pressure on your joints – Not surprisingly, carrying heavy items can increase the pain in your hands, arms and shoulders, but you may also feel the effects in other joints. But being overweight will further increase the pressure on these joints.

Extra activity – Pushing yourself to complete a task can cause you more pain the next day. Arthritis can reduce your muscle stamina so you become tired more quickly. Arthritis can also cause your ligaments to become slack, which puts more strain on your muscles and joints.

Inflammation in the structures around your joint – Inflammation may occur:

  • in a bursa, which normally allows your muscles and tendons to run smoothly over your joints – this often happens in your shoulder and hip joints
  • in the ligaments that hold your joints together – this frequently happens around your knee joint.

Referred pain – Sometimes you may feel pain in one part of your body when the problem is somewhere else. An example of this is sciatica, where a nerve in your back is injured but you often feel the pain in your leg. Your doctor or therapist will try to work out the cause of the pain and help you decide which treatments will help to ease your symptoms and/or control the condition.

Aside from medical treatments, there are lots of things that you can do for yourself to reduce the pain and strain on your joints and to improve your muscle stamina.


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