Common Causes of Joint Pain

It has been estimated that more than 40 million Americans have joint pain, also called arthralgia, of one kind or another.  Joint pain occurs where two bones meet. The most common areas of joint pain are the knees, ankles, wrists and knuckles, although it can occur at any joint.
While there are common causes for joint pain, many people do not know what those causes are:
* Physical injury is one of the most common causes for joint pain. Normally this occurs when a joint is twisted or there is heavy impact on the joint. You may also see joint injury related to sprains or strains. Torn tendons, overstretched ligaments and bone fractures can also affect joints. Whenever joints are dislocated, pain will also be present.
* Overuse can also be the cause of joint pain. The condition chondromalacia patella, which is the degeneration of cartilage under the kneecap, is something adolescents and young adults may experience.
* Arthritis is what most people think of when anyone mentions joint pain. There are around 100 forms of arthritis. The two most common are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis and they can affect nearly 20 million people each year. Other forms of arthritis are gout, septic and reactive.  Arthritic pain can be due to food intolerances.  Your naturopathic doctor can do a food sensitivity test to find out if this is your problem.
* Sarcoidosis and Lupus, both autoimmune diseases, affect the joints. Lupus causes inflammation in the joints but can also affect the blood cells, kidneys, lungs, heart and skin. Sarcoidosis is the growth of small lumps, called granulomas, which can occur throughout the body. Common areas affected are the lungs and lymph nodes but doctors at the Mayo Clinic believe this condition also causes joint pain in the hands, wrists, elbows and ankles.  Even though nobody knows the real cause of an autoimmune disease, in practice we notice that patients who avoid foods that they may be sensitive to (not allergic to!!) can overall decrease systemic inflammation and improve an autoimmune problem.
* Chronic illnesses or infectious diseases such as Lyme disease, measles, mumps, rheumatic fever and Epstein-Barr can also affect joints. Rubella, or German measles, chickenpox and mononucleosis can also cause joint pain even though that is not the main effect of the disease.
* Rickets, which is from a lack of vitamin D, is another cause of joint pain. This disease is not as common in North America as in other parts of the world but can cause joint pain or bone softness.  Even though we don’t see a lot of rickets in North America, I think there is an epidemic of people having suboptimal vit D levels in the blood.  Vitamin D works as an anti-inflammatory and if you have joint pain, it should be at a level over 120 nmol/l (50 ng/l)  in the blood.
* Bursitis and tendonitis are also conditions affecting the joints. Bursitis, caused by swelling of the bursae found between the tendons and skin, can cause severe pain, especially when a person is active. Tendonitis, which is inflammation of the tendons connecting bones and muscles, also causes painful joints. This commonly affects the tendons in the heel, shoulder or wrists.
* Bone cancer, the growth of abnormal cells in the bones, may either originate in the bone itself or spread to them. In either case, the pain associated with bone cancer can be excruciating. 
If you experience joint pain, you may not know the cause. This is why visiting your primary physician is so important. They will be able to determine the cause of your joint pain and then visit your naturopathic doctor to find out ways to treat it naturally and get to the root cause of your problem.
By: Dr. Sandra Miranda, ND

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