Jeremy Ohara

Jeremy Ohara

The Most Common Joint Disorders and What You can do About It

  Jan 16, 2024
Reviewed by Richa Dutta

A connection made between bones in the body which link the whole skeleton is what we call a ‘joint’. Their primary objective is to facilitate movement. Without them, it would be impossible for a person to walk, jump, stretch, or perform daily basic functions. 

Joint Disorders

Every bone in the human body, except the hyoid bone in the throat, has joints. These joints are surrounded by tissues such as ligaments, tendons, and cartilage. 

Sometimes, these joints can be overused or damaged due to external injuries or poor posture, leading to a condition called joint disorder. Joint disorders not only affect the joints but also the tissues, ligaments, cartilage, and muscles around them. They may cause pain, swelling, and inflammation. 

In this article, we will explore the most common joint disorders and how to treat them. 

Common Joint Disorders

Some of the generally known joint disorders are discussed in this section. Let’s take a look at them one by one. 

 Joint Disorders
  • Arthritis – Arthritis is a condition that can affect anyone regardless of their age or gender, although it is more commonly found in older people. The typical symptoms include swelling, inflammation, and pain in the muscles. There are over 100 types of arthritis, and each one has its unique set of symptoms. 

If you or any person around you are suffering from related symptoms, it is good to seek medical attention right away and get timely arthritis treatment.  

The two most common types of arthritis are – osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). 

  • Osteoarthritis (OA) – This is the most prevalent form of arthritis. The symptoms associated with it are – tenderness, stiffness, an increase in joint size, a crackling or grating sound, muscle weakness, etc. 
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) – This is a condition where the immune system targets the tissue lining surrounding the joints. It can also affect the other parts of the body. Symptoms include tenderness, stiffness, pain, extreme tiredness, fever, muscle weakness, etc.
  • Joint Problems from Lupus – Lupus is an autoimmune disease that can affect various parts of the body like the joints, skin, kidneys, heart, lungs, brain, and blood cells. This happens when the body’s immune system starts attacking healthy tissues and organs, leading to inflammation and damage. 

Though the exact cause is still unknown, it is believed to happen due to genetic, hormonal, or environmental factors. The most significant symptoms are arthritis-like symptoms, rashes on the cheek or nose, fatigue, fevers, blood or protein in the urine, high BP, chest pain, cold, and many more. 

  • Tendinitis – When the thick fibrous cords—called tendons—that connect muscles to the bone become inflamed, tendinitis occurs. Though it can occur in any body part, the most affected parts are the elbows, wrists, heels, knees, and shoulders. Common symptoms are mild swelling around the affected area, pain or dull ache, and tenderness. 

Different types of tendinitis are – 

  • Achilles Tendinitis: This occurs when you overuse the tendon that connects your heel bone to the calf muscles at the back of your lower leg. It’s common in runners who suddenly increase the duration or intensity of their runs. 
  • Golfer’s Elbow: This involves the tendon that connects the bony bump inside the elbow and forearm muscles. The condition is painful and may radiate to your wrists and forearms. 
  • Patellar Tendinitis: This occurs in the tendon that connects your shinbone and kneecap—the patellar tendon. It’s common in people who participate in sports that involve frequent jumping, like volleyball and basketball. 
  • Tennis Elbow: This occurs when the tendons that attach the forearm muscles to the outer part of the elbow become damaged or strained. These tendons are responsible for extending the wrist and fingers. 
  • Bursitis – It is a painful swelling in a tiny fluid-filled sac called a bursa. The bursa helps in cushioning the bones, tendons, and muscles near the joints. The most common locations of occurrence are shoulders, elbows, and hips. 

Patients suffering from this condition can expect symptoms such as aches and stiffness, reddish or swollen joints, etc. 

  • Gout – It is characterized by the buildup of uric acid crystals in the joints. Symptoms include tenderness, swelling, sudden and severe pain attacks, and redness in the affected area. The excess uric acid may crystallize and deposit in the joints, particularly the base of the big toe. However, it can also affect other joints like the ankles, knees, wrists, fingers, and elbows.

Some common risk factors contributing to the development of this joint condition are poor diet, obesity, genetics, or certain medical aspects.

How are These Joints Treated?

While treating joint disorders may depend on your specific condition, these are some approaches you may consider.

  1. Medications – If the problem persists, it is advised to go to a doctor, seek consultation, and take proper medications to manage the problem. Depending on the patient’s condition, medicines can relieve the muscles, ease the pain, or may help you recover fully. 
  1. Physical Therapy – Another way of treating joint problems is through physical therapy. Therapists provide machine-based weight exercises, stretches, range-of-motion exercises, and more. They also offer electrotherapy, massage, and joint mobilization depending on the situation. 
  1. Lifestyle Modifications – Making dietary changes, maintaining a healthy weight, limiting alcohol consumption (especially beer), and staying hydrated can help manage joint disorders. Avoiding trigger foods high in purines may also be recommended, especially for individuals with gout.
  1. Heat And Cold Therapy – Applying heat or cold packs to the affected joint can help reduce pain and inflammation. Heat may relax muscles and improve circulation, while cold therapy can numb the area and reduce swelling.
  1. Surgical Interventions – If needed, you can also go for surgical treatments such as total joint replacement, partial replacement, joint fusion, or ligament reconstruction. Recovery and rehabilitation after surgery are also crucial for optimizing outcomes, and a healthcare team will guide patients through the post-operative process.

Final Words

These are the most common joint disorders. Each condition has its own causes, symptoms, and treatment options. If you suspect you have a joint disorder, it’s important to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and proper medical care.