6 Things Your Joint Pain Is Trying To Tell You
We're all probably a little too familiar with joint pain, but less so with the outlier conditions than can cause it (it's not always arthritis and osteoarthritis). Though many things can contribute to the ache, here are 6 to think about:
You're having a reaction to your meds
Meds may be designed to treat you, but certain ones, particularly antibiotics like penicillin, could cause a reaction that fuels your agony. "You could develop an inflammatory antibody response to something you're taking," says Lynn Webster, MD, past president of the American Academy of Pain Medicine. But here's what distinguishes it from other causes: You'll see the effects pop up all over your body, he says. You could develop a skin rash, your eyes may look red, and you might find yourself suffering from GI irritation. If you notice joint pain along with these other symptoms, ask your doctor to compare when your symptoms started to when you began taking something new (this kind of response often crops up within one to three weeks of starting a new medication). Antihistamines or corticosteroids can relieve symptoms.
MORE:9 Surprising Signs Of Depression
You've got gout
This painful condition is caused by a build up of uric acid, which forms crystals that cause inflammation in your joints. (People at higher risk of gout include those with a family history of the disease, people who drink too much alcohol, are overweight, or eat a lot of foods high in purines like meat and seafood.) You've probably heard of people suffering a gout attack in their big toe—and that's where it often strikes first, but it can also develop in other areas like ankles and knees. Though gout more commonly affects men, women aren't immune. "We see it most often in women 20 years after menopause," says Webster. Along with considering your symptoms, your doctor may draw fluid from a joint to look for crystals to confirm a diagnosis. As for treatment, your doc may recommend pain-relieving meds like NSAIDS that tamp down inflammation. Making time for regular exercise and laying off the booze can also help.
You may have sarcoidosis
A healthy immune system fends off whatever's trying to make you sick. But if you have sarcoidosis, an inflammatory condition, there's a break in this action, causing immune cells to form clusters in different organs and leading to symptoms like fever, fatigue, and wheezing. And according to a 2010 study, as many as one-quarter of sufferers also experience a type of sarcoidosis arthritis, aka joint pain. Even stranger? People often notice flare-ups during the spring (scientists aren't sure why). Luckily, you'll get sweet relief soon, as most joint symptoms disappear in a few months, and people suffering from sarcoidosis arthritis generally go into remission within six months of starting at NSAID or steroid regimen.
MORE: Joint-Friendly Workouts
You've got Lyme disease
Little ticks can leave quite a bite: Those that carry a certain type of bacteria can give you Lyme disease. You don't always get a telltale bulls-eye rash (or, for that matter, notice if you've been bitten), but if the infection goes undiagnosed or untreated, it can spread around your body within weeks, according to the American College of Rheumatology. It may manifest as headache or fever, and joint pain is common, too. And symptoms can become chronic, lingering long after treatment, according to a study by Johns Hopkins researchers. The study found that Lyme disease patients were five times more likely to be diagnosed with problems like fatigue and joint pain compared to healthy individuals. If you're suffering from both, ask your doctor if you could be dealing with Lyme. (Check out this map to see how common Lyme is in your area.)
You've got fibromyalgia
Women are far more likely than men to experience this painful condition, which can be triggered by many things, including stress. "It's believed that this is an inflammatory response in the central nervous system that sends out pain signals around the body," says Webster. In one 2014 study, MRI scans showed that the brain may overreact to sensory cues (like sounds and smells) and respond with discomfort. The pain doesn't just land in your joints though—you'll feel it elsewhere, too. Bring it up with your doctor if you're experiencing other symptoms, like fatigue, headaches, anxiety, and depression.
It could be bone cancer
Before you freak out, know that the chances of your bone pain being bone cancer are extremely slim. The American Cancer Association estimates only 2,970 new bone cancer patients will be diagnosed in 2015. (That's compared to more than 93,000 new cases of colorectal cancer.) Still, bone pain is a classic symptom of bone cancer (if a tumor is near a joint, you may notice swelling as well), and it's often worse at night or when you're active. Remember that symptoms can be similar to other conditions, like arthritis. And don't fear the worst—that it's cancer—if joint pain pops up. If the discomfort lingers longer than two weeks, see your doctor. It's likely that something else other than cancer is at the root of your pain, but it's best to have it checked out either way.
MORE: The Best Foods To Ease Arthritis
Video: Mayo Clinic uses stem cell therapy to treat arthritis in knee
How to Pack for a Weekend Trip
Powerful Kettlebell Workout Routines
How to Make Glitter Candlesticks
Watch Gisele Apply Her Own Makeup
7 Logo Belts That Youll Wear Just as Much as Your Gucci One
W Magazine, February 2010: Rihanna
6 Cute DIY Toddler Halloween Costumes
How to Remove Paint from Clothes
The Must-Have Top You Need Now (And The Most Flattering Way To Wear It)
How Ebony Horton paid off 220,000 worth of student loans in 3 years
Stephen Kings Pet Sematary Is Getting a Horrifying Remake
Meet the inspirational teacher helping children in conflict zones
5 Blood Tests You Need After Age 50