Causes Of Arthralgia In Adults: Symptoms & Treatment Options

Arthralgia is a medical term which means pain in joints. This terminology is derived from two Greek words, Arthro and algos. A joint in Greek is called arthro while pain is referred as algos. Human body is made up of several joints, the knee, hip, elbow, ankle, shoulder are prominent among them. Joint pain is common. It can occur in any individual, but elderly individuals are affected more than others.

Arthralgia is actually a symptom of an underlying disease. Arthritis is frequent cause of joint pain. It is inflammation of joints. Arthritis is of various types.

Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and gout are three major forms of arthritis. Arthralgia can also occur due to infection and injury to the joint.

Treatment of arthralgia in adults will depend on various factors such as location of affected joint, severity of pain and associated symptoms. Mild form of arthralgia can be treated with home remedies such as ice fomentation, physiotherapy, warm baths, etc. Patient with severe pain may need anti-inflammatory medicines.

What Are The Causes Of Arthralgia In Adults?

Arthralgia in adults has many underlying causes. Pain in joint can range from injury, infection or inflammation.

Arthralgia can develop at any age but the cause may not be the same. For example joint pain in adults usually occurs due to age related degenerative changes while in young individuals and children injury is the most common cause. Pain in single joint is referred as monoarticular joint pain. When pain is experienced in multiple joint at the same time, it is referred polyarticular joint pain.

The commonest cause of arthralgia in adults is arthritis. It develops as a result of inflammation in the joint. Arthritis can be mainly of three forms; osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout. Osteoarthritis is common in adults. It develops due to daily wear and tear of the joint. Degeneration of joint leads to pain, inflammation and joint deformity.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. Many joints are affected at the same time in rheumatoid arthritis. Gout occurs due to deposition of uric acid crystal in the joints. The common site of gout disease is great toe of leg, knee joint and finger joint.

Arthralgia can also occur due to injury.

  • Fracture of joint bones.
  • Dislocation of joint.
  • Injury resulting from overuse of joint.
  • Loose fragment of bone or a cartilage.
  • Entrapment of nerve.
  • Joint sprain
  • Stress fracture.
  • Rupture of tendon

Arthralgia due to infection:

  • Staphylococcus infection on skin and deep structure around the joint.
  • Gonnorhea
  • Mumps
  • Mononucleosis
  • Measles
  • Salmonella infection

Certain other causes that can lead to joint pain are; Bursitis, osteomyelitis, tendinitis, leukemia, growth in bone and soft tissue.

Several risk factors contribute to cause joint pain. This includes old age, overweight, activities that frequently produce pressure on the joint, history of previous infection or injury in the joint.

Symptoms Of Arthralgia In Adults

Arthralgia is itself a symptom of an underlying disease condition. Pain in joint can be of various types. It can be sharp shooting pain or dull and throbbing pain. The intensity of pain can also differ. It may be mild or moderate pain. The pain may be sudden in onset or may develop gradually over a period of time.

In some patients there may be associated stiffness of joint in the morning. Some patients complain sensation of burning in the joint and few patients feel numbness or tenderness. Swelling, stiffness and pain lead to reduced mobility of the joint. If the joint is infected patient may also complain of fever, headache and loss of appetite. Deformity of joint can be sudden in case of fracture where as it is gradual in arthritis.

Treatment Guidelines For Arthralgia

Arthralgia is actually a symptom of an underlying disease. Hence, the aim of treatment is to address the underlying cause, reduce pain, and improve the function of joint so that the patient can live good quality of life.

  • If the pain is mild and moderate, it can be managed well with ice fomentation, warm baths, gentle massage, acupressure or acupuncture.
  • In case of infection in the joint, antibiotics are necessary. Most often in the beginning the antibiotics are administered intravenously. Once the condition is under control, patient may be put on oral antibiotics.
  • Arthralgia caused due to osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis need anti inflammatory medicines and steroids if the pain is severe.
  • Patient may need physiotherapy treatment which includes stretching and strength training exercise for the joint. It will help to strengthen the supporting muscles of joint and increase mobility of the joint.

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