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Common arthritis symptoms of pain and stiffness are usually caused by degenerative arthritis (osteoarthritis). The more than 100 types of arthritis include rheumatoid arthritis and gout. A diagnosis is necessary in order to develop a treatment plan.
Back pain includes lower back pain, middle back pain, upper back pain or low back pain with sciatica. Nerve and muscular problems, degenerative disc disease, and arthritis can result in back pain. Back pain symptoms may be relieved with pain medication or painkillers.
Bursitis is the inflammation or irritation of the bursa. The bursa is a sac filled with lubricating fluid, located between tissues such as bone, muscle, tendons, and skin, that decreases rubbing, friction, and irritation.
Bursitis is most often caused by repetitive, minor impact on the area, or from a sudden, more serious injury. Age also plays a role. As tendons age they are able to tolerate stress less, are less elastic, and are easier to tear.
Overuse or injury to the joint at work or play can also increase a person’s risk of bursitis. Examples of high-risk activities include gardening, raking, carpentry, shoveling, painting, scrubbing, tennis, golf, skiing, throwing, and pitching. Incorrect posture at work or home and poor stretching or conditioning before exercise can also lead to bursitis.
The knee is a joint which has three parts. The thigh bone (femur) meets the large shin bone (tibia) forming the main knee joint. This joint has an inner (medial) and an outer (lateral) compartment. The kneecap (patella) joins the femur to form a third joint, called the patellofemoral joint.
The knee joint is surrounded by a joint capsule with ligaments strapping the inside and outside of the joint (collateral ligaments) as well as crossing within the joint (cruciate ligaments). These ligaments provide stability and strength to the knee joint.
The meniscus is a thickened cartilage pad between the two joints formed by the femur and tibia. The meniscus acts as a smooth surface for the joint to move on. The knee joint is surrounded by fluid-filled sacs called bursae, which serve as gliding surfaces that reduce friction of the tendons. There is a large tendon (patellar tendon) which envelopes the knee cap and attaches to the front of the tibia bone. There are large blood vessels passing through the area behind the knee (referred to as the popliteal space). The large muscles of the thigh move the knee. In the front of the thigh, the quadriceps muscles extend, or straighten, the knee joint by pulling on the patellar tendon. In the back of the thigh, the hamstring muscles flex, or bend, the knee. The knee also rotates slightly under guidance of specific muscles of the thigh.
About 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain, defined as pain that lasts longer than six months. Chronic pain can be mild or excruciating, episodic or continuous, merely inconvenient or totally incapacitating.
With chronic pain, signals of pain remain active in the nervous system for months or even years. This can take both a physical and emotional toll on a person.
The most common sources of pain stem from headaches, joint pain, pain from injury, and backaches. Other kinds of chronic pain include tendinitis, sinus pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and pain affecting specific parts of the body, such as the shoulders, pelvis, and neck. Generalized muscle or nerve pain can also develop into a chronic condition.
Degenerative disc disease is not really a disease but a term used to describe the normal changes in your spinal discs as you age. Spinal discs are soft, compressible discs that separate the interlocking bones (vertebrae) that make up the spine. The discs act as shock absorbers for the spine, allowing it to flex, bend, and twist. Degenerative disc disease can take place throughout the spine, but it most often occurs in the discs in the lower back (lumbar region) and the neck (cervical region).
The changes in the discs can result in back or neck pain and/or:
These conditions may put pressure on the spinal cord and nerves, leading to pain and possibly affecting nerve function.
Fibromyalgia syndrome affects the muscles and soft tissue. Symptoms include chronic muscle pain, fatigue, sleep problems, and painful tender points or trigger points, which can be relieved through medications, lifestyle changes and stress management.
A fracture (broken bone) is a common injury caused when a force exerted on a bone causes it to break. A closed fractures occurs when the broken bone does not puncture the skin. If it does protrude through the skin, it is called an open fracture.
Golfer’s elbow is pain or soreness in the inner part of the elbow from movement of muscles and tendons in the arm. A tendon is tissue that connects your muscles to bone. Golfer’s elbow isn’t just a problem with the elbow. It also involves the wrist. When the wrist moves, it affects the tendons that attach to the elbow.
Golfer’s elbow is an overuse injury. These kinds of injuries are caused by putting too much stress on your muscles, joints, or other tissues without allowing them to recover. Golfer’s elbow is seen most often in people who garden, bowl, play golf, or play baseball.
Golfer’s elbow causes pain on the inside of your elbow. Your elbow may feel stiff, and it may hurt when you make a fist. Some people with golfer’s elbow feel weakness and tingling in the arm and fingers. These symptoms can happen slowly or quickly. The pain may get worse when you swing a racket or golf club, squeeze a ball, shake hands with someone, turn a doorknob, lift weights, or flex your wrist.
A herniated disc occurs when the spongy, soft material that cushions the bones of the spine (vertebrae) slips out of place or becomes damaged. You can have a herniated disc in any part of your spine. When a herniated disc presses on a nerve, it can cause pain, numbness, and weakness in the area of the body where the nerve travels.
The iliotibial band is a band of fibrous tissue that runs down the outside of the thigh. It provides stability to the knee and hip and helps prevent dislocation of those joints. The band may overdevelop, tighten, and rub across the hipbone or the outer part of the knee. Each time the knee is bent or the hip flexed, the band rubs against bone. This is particularly common in runners, cyclists, and people who participate in otheraerobic activities.
Symptoms of iliotibial band syndrome include:
Iliotibial band syndrome is treated with rest, medicines to relieve swelling and pain, and stretching exercises as instructed by a physical therapist or sports medicine doctor. Steroid injections at the most tender spot are sometimes helpful.
Shoulder impingement syndrome is a common cause of shoulder pain. It occurs when there is impingement of tendons or bursa in the shoulder from bones of the shoulder. Overhead activity of the shoulder, especially repeated activity, is a risk factor for shoulder impingement syndrome. Examples include: painting, lifting, swimming, tennis, and other overhead sports. Other risk factors include bone and joint abnormalities.
With impingement syndrome, pain is persistent and affects everyday activities. Motions such as reaching up behind the back or reaching up overhead to put on a coat or blouse, for example, may cause pain.
Over time, impingement syndrome can lead to inflammation of the rotator cuff tendons (tendinitis) and bursa (bursitis). If not treated appropriately, the rotator cuff tendons can start to thin and tear.
If you have hypermobile joints, you are able to extend them easily and painlessly beyond the normal range of motion. Hypermobility of the joints occurs when the tissues holding a joint together—mainly ligaments—are too loose. Often, weak muscles around the joint also contribute to hypermobility.
The joints most commonly affected are the knees, shoulders, elbows, wrists, and fingers. Hypermobility is a common condition, especially in children, since their connective tissues are not completely developed. According to the Mayo Clinic, a child with hypermobile joints may lose the ability to hyperextend as he or she ages.
Hypermobility of the joints may also be called:
Your back is like a team. Just as one player can’t be solely blamed for a loss, back pain usually can’t be chalked up to a single cause. Several different factors — including muscles, ligaments, and bones — are often at work.
Lumbar discs — the thin layers of cartilage separating the five vertebrae between your ribs and pelvis — are often accused of being the culprit in low back pain. But one study showed that nearly two-thirds of people without back pain had disc abnormalities visible on an MRI, which suggests something besides discs may be involved in this nagging pain.
Recent reports point to a muscle group called the multifidus as a potential player in back pain. These small muscles cross along each of your vertebrae, and they have a tough job to do: They provide stability, enable the spine to extend and rotate, and protect against degeneration of the joints that connect the vertebrae.
Research has found that people with back pain tend to have a smaller multifidus at the site of their pain. Abnormal contractions of the multifidus are also associated with low back pain.
Myofascial pain syndrome (MPS) is a fancy way to describe muscle pain. It refers to pain and inflammation in the body’s soft tissues.
MPS is a chronic condition that affects the fascia (connective tissue that covers the muscles). It may involve either a single muscle or a muscle group. In some cases, the area where a person experiences the pain may not be where the myofascial pain generator is located. Experts believe that the actual site of the injury or the strain prompts the development of a trigger point that, in turn, causes pain in other areas. This situation is known as referred pain.
Weakness and fatigue are terms that are often used as if they mean the same thing. But in fact they describe two different sensations. It is important to know exactly what you mean when you say “I feel weak” or “I am fatigued” because it can help you and your doctor narrow down the possible causes of your symptoms.
General weakness often occurs after you have done too much activity at one time, such as by taking an extra-long hike. You may feel weak and tired, or your muscles may be sore. These sensations usually go away within a few days.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) affects the brain and spinal cord. Early MS symptoms include weakness, tingling, numbness, and blurred vision. Other signs are muscle stiffness, thinking problems, and urinary problems. Treatment can relieve MS symptoms and delay disease progression.
Neck pain can occur anywhere in your neck, from the bottom of your head to the top of your shoulders. It can spread to your upper back or arms. It may limit how much you can move your head and neck.
Neck pain is common, especially in people older than 50.
Most neck pain is caused by activities that strain the neck. Slouching, painting a ceiling, or sleeping with your neck twisted are some things that can cause neck pain. These kinds of activities can lead to neck strain, a sprain, or a spasm of the neck muscles.
Neck pain can also be caused by an injury. A fall from a ladder or whiplash from a car accident can cause neck pain. Some less common medical problems can also lead to neck pain, such as:
You may feel a knot, stiffness, or severe pain in your neck. The pain may spread to your shoulders, upper back, or arms. You may get a headache. You may not be able to move or turn your head and neck easily. If there is pressure on a spinal nerve root, you might have pain that shoots down your arm. You may also have numbness, tingling, or weakness in your arm.
If your neck pain is long-lasting (chronic), you may have trouble coping with daily life. Common side effects of chronic pain include fatigue, depression, and anxiety.
Your doctor will ask questions about your symptoms and do a physical exam. He or she may also ask about any injuries, illnesses, or activities that may be causing your neck pain.
During the physical exam, your doctor will check how well you can move your neck. He or she will also look for tenderness or numbness, tingling, or weakness in your arms or hands.
If your pain started after an injury, or if it doesn’t improve after a few weeks, your doctor may want to do more tests. Imaging tests such as an X-ray, an MRI scan, or a CT scan can show the neck muscles and tissues. These tests may be done to check the neck bones, spinal discs, spinal nerve roots, and spinal cord
Osteoporosis, or thinning bones, can result in painful fractures. Risk factors for osteoporosis include aging, being female, low body weight, low sex hormones or menopause, smoking, and some medications. Prevention and treatment include calcium and vitamin D, exercise, and osteoporosis medications.
An overuse injury is damage to a bone, muscle, ligament, or tendon due to repetitive stress without allowing time for the body to heal. Shin splints are an example of an overuse injury.
The following are the 4 stages of overuse injuries:
Female pelvic pain is pain below a woman’s belly button. It is considered chronic (which means long-lasting) if you have had it for at least 6 months. The type of pain varies from woman to woman. In some women, it is a mild ache that comes and goes. In others, the pain is so steady and severe that it makes it hard to sleep, work, or enjoy life.
If your doctor can find what’s causing the pain, treating the cause may make the pain go away. If no cause is found, your doctor can help you find ways to ease the pain and get back your quality of life.
Some common causes include:
Doctors don’t really understand all the things that can cause chronic pelvic pain. So sometimes, even with a lot of testing, the cause remains a mystery. This doesn’t mean that there isn’t a cause or that your pain isn’t real.
Sometimes, after a disease has been treated or an injury has healed, the affected nerves keep sending pain signals. This is called neuropathic pain. It may help explain why it can be so hard to find the cause of chronic pelvic pain.
Minor leg problems, such as sore muscles, are common. Leg problems commonly occur during sports or recreational activities, work-related tasks, and work or projects around the home. Leg problems also can be caused by injuries. If you think your leg problem is related to an injury, see the topic Leg Injuries.
Leg problems may be minor or serious and may include symptoms such as pain, swelling, cramps, numbness, tingling, weakness, or changes in temperature or color. Symptoms often develop from exercise, everyday wear and tear, or overuse.
Piriformis syndrome is an uncommon neuromuscular disorder that is caused when the piriformis muscle compresses the sciatic nerve. The piriformis muscle is a flat, band-like muscle located in the buttocks near the top of the hip joint. This muscle is important in lower body movement because it stabilizes the hip joint and lifts and rotates the thigh away from the body. This enables us to walk, shift our weight from one foot to another, and maintain balance. It is also used in sports that involve lifting and rotating the thighs — in short, in almost every motion of the hips and legs.
The sciatic nerve is a thick and long nerve in the body. It passes alongside or goes through the piriformis muscle, goes down the back of the leg, and eventually branches off into smaller nerves that end in the feet. Nerve compression can be caused by spasm of the piriformis muscle.
Piriformis syndrome usually starts with pain, tingling, or numbness in the buttocks. Pain can be severe and extend down the length of the sciatic nerve (called sciatica). The pain is due to the piriformis muscle compressing the sciatic nerve, such as while sitting on a car seat or running. Pain may also be triggered while climbing stairs, applying firm pressure directly over the piriformis muscle, or sitting for long periods of time. Most cases of sciatica, however, are not due to piriformis syndrome.
There is no definitive test for piriformis syndrome. In many cases, there is a history of trauma to the area, repetitive, vigorous activity such as long-distance running, or prolonged sitting. Diagnosis of piriformis syndrome is made by the patient’s report of symptoms and by physical exam using a variety of movements to elicit pain to the piriformis muscle. In some cases, a contracted or tender piriformis muscle can be found on physical exam.
Because symptoms can be similar in other conditions, radiologic tests such as MRIs may be required to rule out other causes of sciatic nerve compression, such as a herniated disc.
Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain. It is caused by repeated strain on the plantar fascia, the ligament that connects the heel bone to the toes, supporting the arch of the foot. A strained plantar fascia causes weakness, swelling, and inflammation, especially in one or both heels. Causes of plantar fasciitis include rolling the feet inward while walking; having high arches or flat feet; and running, walking, or standing for along periods of time. Symptoms include pain upon waking and pain while walking and climbing stairs. Treatment includes resting the feet, doing calf stretches and towel stretches several times daily, and wearing shoes with good arch support and a cushioned sole.
The average hospital stay after knee joint replacement is usually three to five days. The vast majority of people who undergo knee joint replacement surgery have dramatic improvement. This improvement is most notable one month or more after surgery. The pain caused by the damaged joint is relieved when the new gliding surface is constructed during surgery.
After knee joint replacement, people are standing and moving the joint the day after surgery. At first, you may walk with the help of parallel bars, and then a walking device — such as crutches, walker, or cane — will be used until your knee is able to support your full body weight. After about six weeks, most people are walking comfortably with minimal assistance. Once muscle strength is restored with physical therapy, people who have had knee joint replacement surgery can enjoy most activities (except running and jumping).
Your physician may refer you physical therapy prior to your scheduled surgery. The purpose of pre-surgical physical therapy will vary. At minimum, your therapist will discuss your post-surgical precautions and/or restrictions. You may be instructed on how to safely move in bed, get in and out of a chair, and use an assistive device, such as crutches or a walker. You may be given exercises to perform at home in order to maximize your range of motion before surgery. Depending on your needs, you may be seen for one visit or you may be seen for multiple visits before your surgery.
Pregnancy is a time of change. Your entire body adapts to the new life growing within you. You also face important life changes at home or at work, with family or friends. You need and deserve support, especially since two people depend on your health and well-being.
Radiculitis is not really a condition but terminology used to describe the neurological symptoms felt as a nerve is pinched, compressed, irritated, or inflamed. Although it is true that radiculitis can affect any nerve traveling out from the spine, it is most commonly seen in the lower back or the neck.
Repetitive motion injuries are tissue injuries that occur as a result of repeated motions. They are among the most common injuries in the United States. All of these disorders are made worse by the strains of daily living.
Repetitive motion injuries make up more than half of all athletic-related injuries seen by doctors and result in huge losses in terms of cost to the workforce. Simple everyday actions, such as throwing a ball, scrubbing a floor, or jogging, can lead to this condition.
The most common types of repetitive motion injuries are tendinitis and bursitis, injuries to tendons and bursae, respectively. These disorders are difficult to distinguish and often coexist.
The rotator cuff is made up of four muscles that help move and stabilize the shoulder joint. Damage to any or all of the four muscles and the ligaments that attach these muscles to bone can occur because of acute injury, chronic overuse, or gradual aging. This damage can cause significant pain and disability with range of motion and use of the shoulder joint.
The shoulder is a ball-socket joint that allows the arm to move in many directions. It is made up of the humeral head (the upper end of the bone of the upper arm) fitting into the glenoid fossa of the scapula (shoulder blade). The humeral head is kept in place by the joint capsule and labrum, thick bands of cartilage that form an elongated cone where the humeral head fits. The rotator cuff muscles are the dynamic stabilizers and movers of the shoulder joint and adjust the position of the humeral head and scapula during shoulder movement.
The four rotator cuff muscles include the
Other muscles that help move and stabilize the shoulder include the deltoid, teres major, corachobrachialis, latissimus dorsi, and pectoralis major.
When the rotator cuff is damaged, a variety of issues arise:
The severity of injury may range from a mild strain and inflammation of the muscle or tendon, that will lead to no permanent damage, to a partial or complete tear of the muscle that might require surgery for repair.
If you stand up from your chair and feel a pain in your lower back, it could be your SI joint acting up. Don’t let it get the best of you! Take charge with a treatment plan that brings relief.
Its full name is the sacroiliac joint. There are two of them in your lower back, and they sit on each side of your spine. Their main job is to carry the weight of your upper body when you stand or walk and shift that load to your legs.
What Does the Pain Feel Like? It could be a dull or sharp. It starts at your SI joint, but it can move to your buttocks, thighs, groin, or upper back.
Sciatica is pain originating in the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower back down the back of your legs. Symptoms of sciatcia include burning in the leg, pain in the back of the leg when sitting, leg weakness, shooting pain, and more. Causes of sciatica may include lumbar spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, pregnancy, and other factors. Treatments may include medications, steroid injections, physical therapy, or surgery. Many times, sciatica will ease on its own.
Scoliosis is a lateral curvature in the normally straight vertical line of the spine. When viewed from the side, the spine shows a mild roundness in the upper back and inward curvature of the lower back. The most common type of scoliosis is idiopathic; it is present at birth and may be inherited. Other types include neuromuscular scoliosis and degenerative scoliosis. Idiopathic scoliosis usually affects those ages 10-16, progressing during the growth years. Some clues that a child may have scoliosis include uneven shoulders, a prominent shoulder blade, uneven waist, or leaning to one side. Diagnosis includes a bone exam and an X-ray to evaluate the magnitude of the curve. Treatment for scoliosis includes back braces, and in more severe cases, surgery that involves joining the vertebrae together permanently (spinal fusion).
All people need spinal cord injury rehabilitation to optimize recovery and, if necessary, adapt to a new way of life after a spinal cord injury. Mayo Clinic’s comprehensive spinal cord injury rehabilitation team works with you and your family to meet your ongoing needs, provide emotional support, improve your physical, mental and emotional functioning, and help you successfully re-enter your community.
A sprain is a stretched or torn ligament. Ligaments are tissues that connect bones at a joint. Falling, twisting, or getting hit can all cause a sprain. Ankle and wrist sprains are common. Symptoms include pain, swelling, bruising, and being unable to move your joint. You might feel a pop or tear when the injury happens.
A strain is a stretched or torn muscle or tendon. Tendons are tissues that connect muscle to bone. Twisting or pulling these tissues can cause a strain. Strains can happen suddenly or develop over time. Back and hamstring muscle strains are common. Many people get strains playing sports. Symptoms include pain, muscle spasms, swelling, and trouble moving the muscle.
At first, treatment of both sprains and strains usually involves resting the injured area, icing it, wearing a bandage or device that compresses the area, and medicines. Later treatment might include exercise and physical therapy.
Muscle strain, muscle pull, or even a muscle tear refers to damage to a muscle or its attaching tendons. You can put undue pressure on muscles during the course of normal daily activities, with sudden heavy lifting, during sports, or while performing work tasks.
Muscle damage can be in the form of tearing (part or all) of the muscle fibers and the tendons attached to the muscle. The tearing of the muscle can also damage small blood vessels, causing local bleeding, or bruising, and pain caused by irritation of the nerve endings in the area.
A subluxation is a partial dislocation of the shoulder, where the humerus does not completely come out of the glenoid fossa. This is most common after trauma to the shoulder or from a fall (often on an outstretched hand.) People with loose or lax ligaments are most susceptible to this type of instability. It can even get to the point where these incidents occur while performing simple activities like putting on a shirt.
Tendinitis is most often caused by repetitive, minor impact on the affected area, or from a sudden more serious injury.
There are many activities that can cause tendinitis, including:
Incorrect posture at work or home or poor stretching or conditioning before exercise or playing sports also increases a person’s risk. Other risk factors for tendinitis, include:
Tennis elbow refers to overuse of arm muscles that creates elbow pain. Tennis elbow pain occurs in the area at the outside of the elbow, where tendons and muscles attach to it. If the pain is on the inner elbow, it is referred to as “golfer’s elbow.” Symptoms of tennis elbow include pain around the outer elbow, made worse by squeezing, lifting, opening things, and other symptoms. While tennis elbow will affect up to 50% of tennis players, you do not have to play tennis to get it. Treatments include rest, ice, and pain medications. Most people will recover by using these guidelines.
Urinary incontinence, or loss of bladder control, is a frustrating problem for millions of Americans. Never knowing when and where you might have an accident can affect everything from work to exercise to your social life. It happens to both men and women, but it’s more common in women. Studies show that at least half of older women may have some form of incontinence.
When a woman has vaginismus, her vagina’s muscles squeeze or spasm when something is entering her, like a tampon or a penis. It can be mildly uncomfortable, or it can be painful. There are exercises a woman can do that can help, sometimes within weeks. Painful sex is often a woman’s first sign that she has vaginismus. The pain happens only with penetration. It usually goes away after withdrawal, but not always. Women have described the pain as a tearing sensation or a feeling like the man is “hitting a wall.” Many women who have vaginismus also feel discomfort when inserting a tampon or during a doctor’s internal pelvic exam.
Women with vulvodynia have chronic vulvar pain with no known cause. Until recently, doctors didn’t recognize this as a real pain syndrome. Even today, many women do not receive a diagnosis. They may also remain isolated by a condition that is not easy to discuss. Researchers are working hard to uncover the causes of vulvodynia and to find better ways to treat it.