What Causes Joint Pain & Stiff Joints? & Best Treatment

It’s a complaint orthopedic specialists are all too familiar with— “My joints hurt”.

Stiff joints can make completing even the most menial of tasks an uncomfortable undertaking. From reaching into cupboards to grab dishes to walking up stairs or getting dressed in the morning, we depend on the functionality of our joints for nearly everything we do.

Thus, when an individual begins to experience joint pain and stiffness, these symptoms should be taken seriously.

Our mobility is a major contributor to our overall health and well-being. Without it, we become more likely to gain weight, lose muscle strength, and experience symptoms of anxiety and depression.

By seeking medical attention as soon as stiff joints arise, patients can reduce the likelihood of these unwanted outcomes and improve the odds of maintaining their quality of life.

What Causes Joint Pain?

Unfortunately, there are numerous conditions that can make joints hurt, and some are more complex to treat than others.

This is why it is so important to speak with an orthopedic doctor. These physicians specialize in conditions related to the musculoskeletal system and are most qualified to accurately diagnose the reason for your stiff joints.

Below are a few of the most common causes of joint stiffness and pain:

Rheumatoid Arthritis

This is one of the most concerning aching joint causes since rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory condition that requires on-going treatment. Essentially, when a person has this condition, their immune system works against their own body, wrongfully attacking the joints and causing them to swell. While there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, there are several medications and treatment options that can alleviate symptoms, including stiff joints. As with any chronic illness, early detection is key. The sooner professional care is received, the more likely it is that debilitating pain and discomfort can be avoided.


Tendonitis is a common condition that develops when a particular joint has been overburdened. Tennis players, for example, often develop tendonitis in the elbow and shoulder, since they repeatedly swing their arms while playing the sport. Tendonitis can develop in any joint, but the shoulder, elbow, and knee joints are most frequently affected. If tendonitis goes untreated it can lead to more serious injuries, including a ruptured tendon. But overall, tendonitis is a highly treatable health problem, with more than 80 percent of those who experience it reaching a full recovery.


Also known as the “wear and tear disease”, osteoarthritis is a medical condition that occurs when the cartilage that surrounds the joints in our body begins to diminish. It can affect any joint, but symptoms customarily impact the hands, knees, hips, and spine the most. In severe cases, osteoarthritis patients experience joint aches that are incapacitating, making it difficult to complete most daily activities. Fortunately, however, there are treatment options that can reduce the intensity of a patient’s pain and discomfort, including cortisol injections, anti-inflammatory drugs, and joint replacement surgery.

If you’ve been wondering “Why do my joints ache?”, don’t ignore your symptoms. No matter what is causing your discomfort, early detection is a crucial part of diagnosing the cause and getting you the relief you need.

What are the Most Common Treatments for Painful Joints?

The treatment options for sore joints have become more advanced and effective over time. Today, there are many possible actions that can be taken to provide patients with symptom relief.

Of course, pain in joints can be an indication of a wide range of health concerns, so the treatment method your physician recommends will depend entirely on what is triggering the irritation and discomfort.

Below are some of the most effective treatments for stiff joints:

Cortisone Injections

Cortisone injections are administered by using a syringe to insert steroid hormones directly into the affected joint. These steroid hormones begin to work much more quickly than oral medications, reducing swelling and inflammation in just a matter of days. Unfortunately, however, cortisone shots do not work for everyone (specifically for those with more severe joint pain) and should not be used repeatedly. Thus, it’s important to speak with your physician to determine if this is the right treatment option for you.

Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

NSAIDs are used to treat pain in those experiencing joint stiffness. While there are over-the-counter versions, including Advil and Aleve, most patients with severe cases of joint pain and stiffness require stronger prescription NSAIDs like Diclofenac or Celecoxib. These medications do come with side effects, though, so it is always advised that patients take the minimum amount that provides adequate relief.

Joint Replacement Surgery

For patients who are unable to find relief from other forms of treatment, joint replacement surgery may be required. These procedures remove the affected joint entirely and replace it with a prosthetic one that is made from metal, ceramic or plastic. The procedure itself is completed in just a few hours, but the recovery time associated with surgery is extensive, with many patients needing six months or more before they regain a full range of motion. Despite the recovery process, a high percentage of patients experience a reduction in their symptoms post-surgery, with some patients enjoying full functionality for as long as 20 years after their procedure.

How Dr. Schwartz Can Help

With 20 years of experience studying and treating orthopedic conditions, Dr. Schwartz is completely board certified (American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery), is a Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, and is also a candidate member of the American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons Society.

But the most compelling proof of Dr. Schwartz’ skill and knowledge comes from his patients, who have witnessed first-hand just how dedicated he is to provide specialized, industry-leading care. We encourage you to browse our testimonials page and see for yourself.

Book a Consultation Today

Our team of personable and well-versed professionals would be happy to assist you in arranging your appointment. Call or fill out the contact form on our website to get in touch.

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