If you suffer sudden joint pain, you’re not alone. A lot of people are going through the very same thing. Stiffness, swelling, and other types of discomfort may be a part of your everyday experience.
You might have suffered some sort of injury, such as a tendon or ligament injury, that could affect your wrist or some other joint. You might have suffered an ACL injury to your knee, or damaged the posterior cruciate ligament.
But an injury is just one reason for sudden joint discomfort. Many conditions can, seemingly out of the blue, make you feel miserable.
In order to assess the type of treatment you require, your doctor will need to determine what is causing your specific joint pain.
In the meantime, here are some possible causes of your discomfort.
Gout is a type of arthritis caused by an excess of uric acid.1 The body needs uric acid in order to help digestion. But if you have too much, that can lead to an accumulation of crystals in your joints. When this happens, you may suffer sudden joint discomfort, joint swelling, and stiffness.2
If you’ve received a diagnosis of gout, there are some things your doctor may recommend that might help manage your discomfort. This will likely include a diet change. Drinking too many sugary drinks and alcohol are risk factors for gout. Maintaining a healthy weight and activity could support normal uric acid levels.3
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA for short) can lead to sudden flares of joint discomfort that can make it hard just to get out of bed. Rheumatoid arthritis RA is an autoimmune disorder that occurs when fluid in the joints that lubricate ligaments become inflamed. This leads to swelling and discomfort in the joints and tissues.4
A doctor will typically confirm an RA diagnosis through a c-reactive protein test. It measures the amount of this protein in the blood. The protein is a marker for issues such as RA.5
One way your doctor may suggest you manage rheumatoid arthritis discomfort is to try to exercise on a regular basis. It will be uncomfortable in many instances, but it can strengthen joints and might help you manage symptoms. There are several low-impact exercises, such as swimming, that could help. Be sure to check with your doctor before beginning any sort of new exercise regimen.
Losing weight may also help bring relief. If you are overweight, that puts more pressure on joints. This, in turn, may increase discomfort.6
This is another type of arthritis that can lead to severe discomfort. The main cause is an infection due to bacteria. If you develop an infection that turns into reactive arthritis, your doctor might recommend physical therapy to help you manage your discomfort.8
Osteoarthritis is very common, affecting as many as 27 million people in the U.S. alone. This type of arthritis will typically affect the knees as well as the back, neck, fingers, and big toe. It’s caused by a breakdown of cartilage that cushions the bones.9
Your doctor may recommend certain exercises and lifestyle changes to help you manage this condition. Simply walking around the neighborhood, for example, may help reduce osteoarthritis symptoms. As with many other types of arthritis, losing weight may help take the pressure off joints and reduce discomfort.10
This is another type of arthritis that is caused by an infection due to a virus, fungus, or bacterium. It occurs when the infection is carried through the blood to the joints. Septic arthritis can be caused by an injury that breaks the skin, allowing the infection to get into the blood.
Medications will often help clear up certain types of infections. Check with your doctor to see which medications are right for you. Other methods used to address septic arthritis symptoms include physical therapy and splints, as suggested by a medical professional.11
Other Causes of Sudden Joint Discomfort
These are just some of the issues that can result in sudden joint discomfort. Here are a few others your doctor may consider:
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – People with carpal tunnel often suffer severe discomfort to the hand and arm due to compression of nerves going through the wrist. Wearing a wrist splint can sometimes help reduce symptoms.15
Polymyalgia Rheumatica – This leads to widespread stiffness that can occur quickly. Medications will sometimes help reduce symptoms.16
Monoarticular Arthritis – This is a type of arthritis that affects only one joint, leading to swelling and redness.17
Ilotibial Band Syndrome – The iliotibial band is a tissue running outside the thigh from the hip to the shinbone. When this tissue becomes irritated, that can cause knee discomfort. Ice, rest, and medications may help.18
Lupus Erythematosus – Commonly referred to as lupus, this is an autoimmune disorder that affects the tissues.19 A doctor will typically confirm a diagnosis of lupus through a blood test known as an erythrocyte sedimentation rate test.20Lupus sufferers can often find relief through rest, exercise, and following a healthy diet.21
Even if you receive a diagnosis of one of these conditions, there are many things you can do that might help reduce your discomfort.
Talk to your doctor to determine the best way to address whatever joint health issues you may be experiencing.