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Arthralgia - Risk Factors, Symptoms, and Treatment

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Arthralgia - Risk Factors, Symptoms, and Treatment

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Joint stiffness is called arthralgia. There can be many causes, such as overuse of joints, injury, and infections. Read the article to know more.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Suman Saurabh

Published At August 2, 2022
Reviewed AtMay 29, 2024

What Is Arthralgia?

Joint pain and joint stiffness are referred to as arthralgia or arthritis. It can occur in any part of the joint as pain or inflammation.

What Are the Causes and Risk Factors of Arthralgia?

Joint injury, obesity, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, strain or joint sprains, joint dislocation, tendinitis, hypothyroidism, and bone cancer are the various causes and risk factors of arthralgia.

  1. Adult Still’s Disease: This is a rare form of inflammatory arthritis. It includes fever, rash, and joint discomfort. This disease affects some individuals only once, but the condition recurs or continues in others. This inflammation might destroy joints, especially the wrists. Prednisone and other anti-inflammatory drugs are used in treatment.

  2. Ankylosing Spondylitis: Ankylosing spondylitis is an inflammatory condition that, over time, may lead to the fusion of certain vertebrae in the spine. As a result of this fusing, the spine becomes less flexible, which may cause a hunched posture. It could be challenging to breathe deeply if the ribs are hurt. Ankylosing spondylitis has no known cure; however, treatments can alleviate symptoms and possibly halt the disease's progression.

  3. Avascular Necrosis: Avascular necrosis is the death of bone tissue due to the limited or absence of blood flow. It is also known as osteonecrosis, and it can result in minor fractures and bone collapse. Typically, the procedure takes months to years. A shattered bone or dislocated joint can stop blood flow to a portion of bone. Additionally, excessive alcohol consumption and long-term usage of high-dose steroid medicines are linked to avascular necrosis. Anybody may be impacted. However, individuals between 30 and 50 years have the highest prevalence of the illness.

  4. Bone Cancer: Cancers that start somewhere else in the body and "metastasize" (spread) to the bone are not considered to be "bone cancer." Instead, those tumors are given their original starting points as names, such as bone metastasizing breast cancer. Although some forms of bone cancer usually affect adults, others mostly affect youngsters. The most common form of treatment is surgical removal, but chemotherapy and radiotherapy are other options. The form of bone cancer being managed determines whether surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy should be used.

  5. Bursitis: Bursitis is a severe ailment that affects the bursae, which are tiny sacs filled with fluid that cushions the muscles, tendons, and bones close to the joints. Bursitis develops when bursae swell up. Bursitis most frequently develops in the shoulder, elbow, and hip, but it can also occur around the base of the big toe, the heel, and the knee. Near joints that experience regular repetitive motion, bursitis frequently develops. Resting the injured joint and shielding it from additional harm are often the mainstays of treatment. Bursitis discomfort typically disappears after a few weeks with the right care, but flare-ups are frequent.

  6. Complex Regional Pain Syndrome: A common area of pain for people with complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is an arm or a leg. CRPS frequently occurs following an injury, surgery, stroke, or heart attack. In comparison to how severe the initial injury was, the pain is excessive. The cause of CRPS is unknown, and it is a rare condition. The best probability of a cure is with early treatment. In these circumstances, recovery and even recurrence are feasible.

  7. Fibromyalgia: An illness called fibromyalgia is characterized by significant musculoskeletal pain along with problems like sleep, memory, and mood. According to researchers, fibromyalgia alters how the nerve cells receive painful and non-painful impulses, amplifying painful sensations.

After any kind of trauma, symptoms frequently start to appear. In other situations, symptoms develop gradually over time without a particular cause, as in fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is more common in women than in men. Numerous patients with fibromyalgia also experience tension headaches, temporomandibular joint issues, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, and depression. Although there is no known remedy, several drugs can help manage symptoms. Exercise, rest, and stress-reduction techniques may also be beneficial.

Other risk factors are as follows:

  1. Gonococcal Arthritis: Joint infection in gonorrhea.

  2. Gout: Joint inflammation due to increased uric acid level.

  3. Hypothyroidism: Deficiency of thyroid hormone.

  4. Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis: Arthritis in kids and teens.

  5. Leukemia: Cancer of blood-forming tissues like bone marrow.

  6. Lupus: Inflammatory auto-immune disease.

  7. Lyme Disease: Caused by Borrelia burgdorferi.

  8. Osteoarthritis: Degeneration of bone cartilage.

  9. Osteomyelitis: Infection of bone.

  10. Paget’s Disease: Alteration in bone metabolism.

  11. Polymyalgia Rheumatica: Muscle pain and stiffness due to inflammation.

  12. Pseudogout: Acute pain and swelling in one or more joints.

  13. Psoriatic Arthritis: Arthritis when associated with psoriasis.

  14. Reactive Arthritis: Joint inflammation when triggered by infection from other parts of the body.

  15. Rheumatic Fever: Inflammation of the heart, blood vessels, and joints.

  16. Rheumatoid Arthritis: Inflammatory joint disease.

  17. Rickets:Vitamin D deficiency.

  18. Sarcoidosis: Collection of inflammatory cells.

  19. Septic Arthritis: Infectious arthritis due to bacterial infection.

  20. Sprains: Degeneration of ligaments.

  21. Tendinitis: Inflammation of the tendon, the tissue connecting muscle and bone.

What Are the Symptoms of Arthralgia?

Joint stiffness, joint pain, redness, reduced joint movement, joint deformation, bone loss and loss of cartilage, complete joint immobility, and intense pain when bones scrape against each other.

When to Consult a Doctor?

Whenever one sees signs of joint inflammation, such as tenderness, swelling, and redness, one should consult a doctor. In conditions such as intense pain, inability to move, and sudden joint swelling, consult a doctor immediately.

What Are the Possible Home Remedies for Arthralgia?

  • Pain-relieving medications can be used.

  • Avoid overuse of joints.

  • Ice fermentation or with frozen peas for 15 to 20 minutes on the painful joint.

  • A heating pad and a warm shower are used to increase blood circulation.

How to Diagnose Arthralgia?

By doing the following tests, arthralgia can be diagnosed:

  • Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR).

  • C- reactive protein (CRP).

  • Anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (anti-ccp) antibody tests.

  • Rheumatoid factor (RF) tests.

  • Bacterial culture of joint fluid and crystal analysis.

  • Biopsy.

How to Treat Arthralgias Medically?

The treatment for arthralgia mainly includes disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and drugs such as Adalimumab or Certolizumab for psoriatic arthritis.

Home Treatment:

  • Regular exercise.

  • Follow relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation.

  • Hot and cold compressors can be used to relieve pain and stress.

  • Join support groups.

  • Rest frequently to avoid weakness in the muscles.

  • Over-the-counter pain relievers can be taken to manage pain.

What Are the Complications of Arthralgia?

The complication caused by this condition is not very serious until the underlying inflammatory health issue results in arthralgia. This is just a symptom so complications will be caused only due to the pain in the joint.


Arthralgia is the most common disorder with the various causes described above. Its management seems simple and irreversible. Though the symptoms seem simple, they can lead to discomfort even when performing daily routine activities, leading to setbacks and affecting patients mentally. Hence, prevention is better than curing this disease.

Frequently Asked Questions


How Is Arthralgia Caused?

The risk factors and causes of arthralgia include:
Infectious diseases.
Joint sprain.
Bone cancer.
Joint dislocation.


What Are the Features of Arthralgia?

The characteristic features of arthralgia are:
Pain in joints.
Limited joint movement.
Loss of cartilage.


What Is the Best Option to Treat Arthralgia?

The following are the best treatment options for arthralgia:
Anti-inflammatory medications.
Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (Certolizumab, Adalimumab, etc).
Physical therapy.
Warm or cold compresses.


How Do Arthritis and Arthralgia Differ?

Arthralgia is characterized by a dull or sharp pain in a particular joint, while arthritis is known to involve many joints. Arthritis comprises many symptoms like swelling, stiffness, pain, limited joint movement, joint deformation, and synovial thickening. Patients diagnosed with arthritis may have arthralgia (joint pain) but not vice-versa.


Does Sleeplessness Cause Joint Pain?

According to several studies on joint pain, improper or lack of proper sleep may eventually increase the severity of joint pain. This is because it occurs due to improper sleep, which may elevate the inflammatory markers in the body. In addition, for a few others, severe joint pain may disturb sleep and lead to depression.


Is Arthralgia Curable?

Arthralgia is treatable with physical therapy, over-the-counter medications for pain, and other conservative methods. However, in case of severe joint pain caused by arthritis remains for a long time, and it may not be curable. In addition, components like infections, systemic disorders, etc., are a few of the risk factors that even worsen arthralgia.


Does Arthralgia Lead To Stress?

No studies are put forward to prove that arthralgia leads to stress. However, increased pain in joints may disturb sleep, and over time, it causes stress. In addition, stress is one of the risk factors for arthralgia, as it elevates the inflammatory response. During the flare-ups of joint pain, the body becomes fatigued and stressed.


Are Arthralgia and Fibromyalgia the Same?

Arthralgia and fibromyalgia are not the same; fibromyalgia is also a painful condition, but it is related to the musculoskeletal part of the body. In addition, fibromyalgia also causes mood, sleep, and memory problems. Whereas arthralgia causes pain and stiffness in specific joints, it can be treated with over-the-counter analgesics and rest.


When Does Arthralgia Heal?

Arthralgia may heal independently over a few days, while others may require medications and physical therapy and are treated within a few weeks. Severe arthralgia caused by arthritis may last for several months, which leads to stress and affects regular life. However, they may heal entirely within three to six months.


Is Arthralgia a Disease or Disability?

Arthralgia is not a disease or a disability but a disease manifestation. When arthralgia leads to severe stiffness and impairs joint mobility, it may be considered a dysfunction. Arthralgia is mainly treated with medication; when they are not treatable and persist for prolonged periods, it may be a symptom of an underlying chronic disorder.
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Dr. Suman Saurabh
Dr. Suman Saurabh

Orthopedician and Traumatology


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