Acute Joint Pain vs. Arthritis

If you're experiencing joint pain, it’s natural to wonder if it will pass or when it’s a sign of something more serious, like arthritis. At Town Center Orthopaedic Associates, our team of highly skilled orthopedic experts helps patients in the Centreville and Reston, Virginia areas by diagnosing and treating common causes of joint pain and arthritis. 

About 55 million Americans live with arthritis; and osteoarthritis, one of the most common forms of arthritis, is a leading cause of joint pain. But other factors can trigger acute joint pain, mimicking the swelling and achiness arthritis brings. 

Take a moment to learn the difference between acute joint pain and arthritis. 

What is acute joint pain?

Acute joint pain is pain in your joints that comes on suddenly. Most of the time, acute joint pain isn’t the result of an underlying condition or permanent damage to the joint. Possible causes of acute joint pain include:

Treatment for acute joint pain depends on the underlying cause and severity of your pain. Most of the time, our team recommends treating acute joint pain with rest, icing, compression, elevation, medication, and physical therapy, if needed. 

Acute joint pain shouldn’t last, and depending on the root cause, should resolve in weeks. 

What is arthritis?

Joint pain that persists for weeks or months (chronic joint pain) may be a sign that you have arthritis and/or joint damage. Over 100 types of arthritis exist, and it requires a medical evaluation to determine which you have. 

Osteoarthritis is the most common and develops from wear and tear on the joints. Another common type is rheumatoid arthritis, which results from an autoimmune disorder.

Some signs and symptoms of arthritis-related joint pain include:

Because it's difficult to know at first if your joint pain is acute or the result of arthritis, keeping track of your symptoms, when they occur or feel worse (e.g., time of day, after physical activity or rest), and how long your symptoms last can help your provider at Town Center Orthopaedic Associates diagnose the root cause of your pain. 

If your joint pain lasts more than a few weeks, gets progressively worse, or if you develop other symptoms such as a rash or fever, seek medical help as soon as possible. 

For more information about treating acute joint pain or to learn more about arthritis, call our office most convenient for you or request an appointment online today!

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