Maybe you’ve grown used to that persistent creaking in your knees. Or maybe the ache in your hips is new to you. No matter what kind of pain you’re feeling, you may be wondering why you’re feeling it and if there’s a way to ease or stop it.

Pain in the joints is extremely common. Severe joint pain affects more than 14.6 million people in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Knee and hip pain are the most common type of joint pain, but it can exist in any of the body’s joints, including the hands, wrists, elbows, shoulders, ankles, feet, jaw, and neck.

Uncovering the source of your joint pain is the first step in effectively treating or reducing it. Treatment methods vary depending on the underlying cause contributing to the pain.

There are a number of conditions that cause pain in the joints including…

This occurs when the cartilage around the joints breaks down. It can then cause the bones to rub against one another, triggering swelling and pain. The risk of developing osteoarthritis is higher as you age and can be caused by overuse of a certain joint.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
This type of arthritis is a chronic disease that impacts the immune system. It causes inflammation to the joints which leads to pain, swelling, and stiffness, among other symptoms. These effects can be chronic and progressively worsen.

This is also a condition that impacts the immune system, and joint pain is one of the most common symptoms. Along with pain in the joints, lupus can cause the joints to stiffen, swell, and feel tender and warm.

Lyme disease
Once you’re infected with this tick-borne illness, the condition can linger, with symptoms appearing for months or even years. Joint pain, most commonly in the knees and other large joints of the body, is one symptom caused by this condition.

Gout is a type of arthritis that’s caused by high levels of uric acid in the blood. The condition can be extremely painful, often affecting the big toe.

Researchers are still struggling to identify what causes fibromyalgia. The condition causes pain throughout the body, including the joints.

If you’re just beginning to feel joint pain, basic, at-home treatment may help you find relief. Over-the-counter pain reliever like acetaminophen or an anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen may help ease your pain.

If at-home treatment doesn’t seem to help your pain, talk with your doctor. He or she can work to uncover the cause of your pain. An acute injury or a chronic condition may involve different treatment options.

Erlanger Western Carolina Hospital is home to an exceptional orthopaedic care team, with broad expertise. Treatment can include arthroscopy of the knee and shoulder, joint replacement surgery, and care of hand and upper extremity disorders as well as fractures. Board-certified and fellowship trained physicians Drs. Stephen Purvis and Dale Ingram and nurse practitioner Jesse Mayo are ready to help if you are feeling persistent joint pain.

To make an appointment with Erlanger Western Carolina Hospital in Murphy or Hayesville, call 828-837-9181.