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Joint Pain

Understanding Joint Pain

Joints are responsible for providing mobility and flexibility. Joint pain refers to any discomfort, soreness, swelling and tenderness felt in any of the body’s joints and its components, including bone, cartilage, ligament, muscle and tendon. Intensity of the pain varies from mild to severe, which can greatly hinder movement and function.

Joint pain can be caused by an injury, wear and tear or an illness. It can also be a symptom of an underlying disease. Treatment varies from patient to patient. In most cases, the treatment focuses on alleviating pain.

Causes of Joint Pain

Pain arising from the joints is often a result of inflammation or wear and tear, which develops over time with age or if the joint is overused (e.g. heavy lifting, constant standing). Injuries and illnesses are contributors of joint pain as well.

Arthritis is one of the most common causes of joint pain, and is characterized by the inflammation of the joints. However, arthritis is not one disease – it has over 100 variations, such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Other causes of joint pains include:

  • Bursitis (inflammation of the joint cushions)
  • Cancer (abnormal cell growth)
  • Chondromalacia patellae (deterioration of the cartilage in the kneecap)
  • Fibromyalgia (chronic musculoskeletal pain)
  • Gout (arthritis caused by excess uric acid)
  • Hepatitis (inflammation of the liver)
  • Influenza (commonly called the flu)
  • Lupus (chronic autoimmune illness)
  • Mumps (viral infection affecting the salivary gland)
  • Osteomyelitis (infection of the bone)
  • Osteoporosis (weak and brittle bones)
  • Rickets (soft bones due to vitamin D deficiency)
  • Sarcoidosis (inflammatory disease that usually targets the lungs and lymph glands)
  • Tendinitis (inflammation of a tendon)

In these cases, joint pain is a symptom of an underlying, more serious illness. As such, it is important to seek proper medical attention if the pain persists or if it is accompanied by other symptoms.

Diagnosis of Joint Pain

To ensure that the pain experienced in the joints is not linked to a more serious illness, the doctor will perform a physical examination and ask a series of questions related to the pain, such as its intensity and frequency. The affected joint will be checked for redness, tenderness, warmth and inflammation. Flexibility and mobility are also checked.

If the doctor suggests that the pain is due to something more serious, then blood tests and sedimentation rate tests may be performed. These will help detect autoimmune disorders and inflammation in the body. Additionally, X-rays can be conducted.

Joint Pain Treatment

On top of pain relief medications and lifestyle changes, other treatments can include surgical procedures such as:

  • Joint aspiration

    A needle and syringe are used to extract fluid from the inflamed joint. This is done to reduce swelling and to collect fluid samples for further testing and diagnosis.
  • Joint replacement

    This procedure involves taking part or all of the affected joint, and replacing it with a prosthesis to maintain function.
  • Our Services

    There are more than 100 different types of rheumatic disorders. Our team works together to diagnose and treat the full spectrum of these disorders, including autoimmune diseases, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis, as well as other forms of arthritis, such as osteoarthritis, gout and Gout. Treatments for the various conditions may include lifestyle changes, medication and surgery. A/Prof Leong will tailor each treatment plan to effectively manage the condition in each patient.

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    About Our Arthritis Specialist

    A/Prof Leong Keng Hong is a senior consultant rheumatologist at Gleneagles Medical Centre and an Adjunct Associate Professor at Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine at the National University of Singapore. He is the founder of the Osteoporosis Society (Singapore) (OSS), established in 1996, and served as its President until 2004. He also served as the Inaugural Chairman of the Chapter of Rheumatologists in the Academy of Medicine, Singapore from 2004-2007 and was delegated as Chairman until 2013.

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