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Joint Pain

What is Joint Pain?

Joint pain refers to discomfort, aching, or soreness in any part of a joint in the body in Singapore. Joints are the connections between bones that allow for movement and can be found throughout the body, including the knees, hips, shoulders, wrists, and fingers. Joint pain ranges from mild to severe and can be acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term).

Joint pain
Knee joint pain ranges from mild to severe

What causes Joint Pain?

There are many potential causes of joint pain, including:

  • Arthritis: arthritis is a common cause of joint pain. There are different types of arthritis, but they all involve inflammation and damage to the joints. Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout are examples of conditions that cause joint pain.
  • Injuries: joint pain can result from sprains, strains, and fractures. These injuries can damage the structures within the joint.
  • Overuse: repetitive movements or overuse of a joint, especially in activities or occupations that strain the joints, can lead to joint pain.
  • Infections: infections, such as septic arthritis, can cause joint pain when bacteria or viruses enter the joint.
  • Autoimmune diseases: conditions like lupus and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) can lead to joint pain as the immune system attacks the body's healthy tissues and cells, including the joints.
  • Tendonitis: inflammation of tendons, which attach muscles to bones, can result in joint pain.
  • Bursitis: inflammation of bursae, small sacs of fluid that cushion and protect the joints, can cause joint pain.
  • Other medical conditions: various medical conditions, including fibromyalgia, Lyme disease, and certain types of cancer, can manifest with joint pain as a symptom.
 Joint injury running
Excessive running without adequate rest and recovery can lead to overuse injuries, resulting in joint pain.

What are the symptoms of Joint Pain?

The symptoms of joint pain vary depending on the underlying cause and the affected joint. Common symptoms associated with joint pain include:

  • Pain: ranges from a mild, dull ache to severe, sharp pain. The pain may be constant or intermittent and aggravated by movement or specific activities.
  • Swelling: inflammation of the joint can lead to swelling, which can cause the joint to appear larger than usual or feel puffy.
  • Joint stiffness: joint pain can result in stiffness, making it difficult to move the affected joint. Joint stiffness is usually more noticeable in the morning or after periods of inactivity.
  • Redness and warmth: in cases of joint inflammation, the skin over the joint may become red and feel warm to the touch.
  • Reduced range of motion: joint pain can significantly reduce the range of motion of the affected joint.
  • Weakness: some individuals may experience muscle weakness in or near the affected joint.
  • Tenderness: the affected joint may be tender to the touch; even light pressure or touch can cause discomfort.
  • Grinding or popping sensations: sometimes, joint pain may be accompanied by a grinding or popping sensation during movement. This can indicate damage to the joint or its surrounding structures.
  • Fatigue: joint pain can lead to exhaustion, fatigue, and decreased energy levels.
  • Fever and other systemic symptoms: in cases where joint pain is due to an infection or autoimmune condition, individuals may experience fever, chills, and other systemic symptoms.
 swollen joint
Joint pain may be accompanied by inflammation and swelling of the affected joint.

The specific symptoms can vary based on the cause of joint pain. For example, osteoarthritis tends to result in gradual onset of pain, stiffness, and decreased range of motion, while conditions like gout can lead to sudden, intensely painful, and swollen joints, typically in the big toe.T

If you have any of the conditions above, make an appointment with Asia Arthritis Rheumatology Centre for effective treatment.

Is the condition painful?

Yes, joint pain refers to discomfort, aching, or soreness in the joints, which are the connections between bones that allow movement. The pain ranges from mild to severe and varies in intensity. Joint pain can be described as aching, dull, sharp, burning, or throbbing, depending on the underlying cause and the affected joint.

The pain associated with joint conditions can be acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term) and may be aggravated by movement, pressure on the joint, or specific activities. The severity and duration of joint pain vary depending on the underlying condition and can significantly impact a person's quality of life and ability to perform daily tasks.

Who is at risk of Joint Pain in Singapore?

A variety of factors can influence the risk of joint pain. While joint pain can affect people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds, certain risk factors may increase the likelihood of experiencing joint pain. These risk factors are:

  • Age: joint pain is more common in older individuals. Conditions like osteoarthritis become more prevalent with age.
  • Gender: certain joint conditions, like rheumatoid arthritis, are more common in women. Men are more prone to conditions like gout.
  • Obesity: excess body weight can put added stress on the joints, particularly the knees, hips, and lower back, increasing the risk of joint pain.
  • Genetics: if there's a family history of joint conditions or arthritis, an individual may have a higher genetic predisposition to these issues.
  • Physical activity: both insufficient physical activity and overuse of the joints through high-impact activities or sports can contribute to joint pain. Maintaining a balance is important.
  • Occupation: certain occupations that involve repetitive movements or heavy lifting may increase the risk of joint pain.
  • Trauma and injuries: past joint injuries, such as fractures, dislocations, or sprains, can lead to long-term joint pain.
  • Medical conditions: individuals with underlying medical conditions like diabetes, autoimmune diseases (e.g., lupus), or certain infections may be at greater risk of joint pain.
  • Diet: a diet high in purines, found in certain foods and beverages, can increase the risk of gout, a type of inflammatory arthritis that causes severe joint pain.
  • Environmental factors: weather and climate can sometimes affect joint pain, with cold and damp conditions potentially exacerbating symptoms for some individuals.
 High-purine foods
A diet rich in high-purine foods is a potential trigger for joint pain in conditions like gout.

How is Joint Pain diagnosed?

Diagnosing the cause of joint pain involves the following steps:

  • Medical history: a detailed medical history will be obtained. Your rheumatologist will ask about your symptoms, including the location and duration of joint pain, stiffness, and other relevant information. They will also inquire about any underlying medical conditions, family history of joint problems, recent injuries or traumas, and lifestyle factors.
  • Physical examination: a physical exam assesses the affected joint and surrounding areas to check for signs of inflammation, such as swelling, redness, warmth, tenderness, range of motion, and deformities.
  • Blood tests: blood tests will be used to check for markers of inflammation (e.g., C-reactive protein, erythrocyte sedimentation rate) or specific tests to identify autoimmune conditions (e.g., rheumatoid factor, antinuclear antibodies). In cases of suspected infections, blood tests may be used to detect the presence of infectious agents.
  • Imaging studies: common imaging techniques include X-rays, ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and computed tomography scans (CT scans) can reveal joint damage, bone changes, and soft tissue abnormalities.
  • Joint aspiration: some individuals may require joint aspiration, where a needle is used to withdraw fluid from the affected joint. The fluid can be analysed for signs of infection, crystals (as seen in gout), or other abnormalities.
Physical examination
A physical examination of the affected joint will be conducted to assess for signs of inflammation, swelling, tenderness, range of motion, etc

What are the treatment options for Joint Pain in Singapore?

The treatment options for joint pain depend on the underlying cause of the pain. Common treatment options for joint pain include:

  • Medications:
    • Corticosteroids: these anti-inflammatory drugs can be administered orally or through joint injections to reduce inflammation and pain.
  • Physical and occupational therapy: physical and occupational therapy can help improve joint mobility, strengthen muscles, reduce pain, and help individuals with arthritis learn strategies to manage daily tasks and reduce joint strain.
  • Lifestyle modifications: weight management, exercise, and a healthy diet are necessary to treat joint pain.
  • Assistive devices: Using braces, orthotic devices, or assistive tools can provide support and reduce strain on the joint.
  • Surgery: such as joint repair or, in severe cases, joint replacement can repair or replace damaged joint structures.
Knee brace
Braces or other assistive devices may be used as a supportive measure for managing joint pain.

Make an appointment with Asia Arthritis Rheumatology Centre where we prioritise our patient’s health by ensuring accurate diagnosis and personalised treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can lifestyle changes help alleviate joint pain?

Yes, adopting a healthy lifestyle with weight management, regular exercise, and joint-friendly activities like walking, swimming and water aerobics, can reduce joint pain and improve mobility. Consult a healthcare professional for personalised guidance.

Are there non-surgical treatments for joint pain?

Non-surgical options include medications, physical therapy, joint injections, and lifestyle modifications. These approaches often provide effective pain relief and improve joint function.

At what point should I become concerned about joint pain?

You should be concerned about joint pain when it persists for an extended period, worsens over time, or is accompanied by other symptoms like severe swelling, redness, or a fever. Additionally, if joint pain interferes significantly with your daily activities, consulting a rheumatologist can help.

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Dr Annie Law

Senior Consultant Rheumatologist
FAMS (Rheumatology)

Dr Annie Law is an experienced Senior Consultant Rheumatologist and Medical Director at Asia Arthritis & Rheumatology Centre.

She leads subspecialty SLE clinics, showcasing her dedication to lupus care. Dr Annie Law has been duly recognised for patient-oriented care, earning multiple awards. Her extensive education includes FAMS (Rheumatology) and MRCP (General Medicine). Actively involved in lupus research, she established a lupus database and contributed to paramount protein therapy discoveries. Dr Law is a committed medical educator, holding faculty positions and receiving accolades for her teaching. Her impactful contributions extend to the professional organisation for rheumatology in Singapore exemplifying deep commitment to advancing rheumatology knowledge.

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