Joints are the structures connecting two or more bones in the body. They are found in the feet, ankles, knees, hips, hands and many other parts of the body. The joints are surrounded and lined by soft tissues. Swollen joints occur when the volume of fluid in the tissues surrounding the joints increases.
Swollen joints are usually accompanied by pain, stiffness, or both. You may also notice that the affected joint is larger than normal or has an irregular shape. Swelling of the joints can be a symptom of a chronic condition, such as arthritis or injury that requires medical attention, such as dislocation.
A SWOLLEN JOINT MAY BE A SYMPTOM OF THE FOLLOWING MEDICAL CONDITIONS:
- Osteoarthritis (OA) usually occurs at an older age or after injury, when articular cartilage, lining the ends of the bones, wears out. OA can cause swelling of joints that carry body weight such as knees, hips, feet and spine. Apart from the pain in the affected swollen joint, the person does not feel sick or tired.
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is inflammatory arthritis that can occur at any age, even in young children. RA causes painful, stiff and swollen joints. Usually RA affects the hands, feet and knees, but it can affect most joints in other parts of the body. The symptoms of RA can interfere in everyday activities.
- Gout – usually occurs suddenly with severe joint pain, swelling, heat and redness, often in the thumb (in about 50 percent of cases). Gout causes a sore, swollen joint so strong that even the weight of the bedsheet can be very painful. Usually the patient suffers from pain in only one joint, but sometimes gout can affect more than one joint. In gout, uric acid, which is naturally found in the body, starts forming the crystals that precipitate in the joints, causing inflammation and pain. Crystals can also appear in other areas and become lumps under the skin or kidney stones.
- Ankylosing spondylitis – is a chronic inflammatory rheumatic systemic disease. The word ankylosis means stiffness, and spondylitis indicates inflammation of the vertebrae, that is, the spine. In addition to the spine, the condition can also be manifested on tendons and even cause changes on the skin. A disease is a group of diseases called seronegative spondyloarthritis. The disease can occur at any age, and is more common in men.
- Psoriatic arthritis – Psoriatic arthritis is an inflammatory joint disease that affects people with psoriasis, a skin condition. Up to 30 percent of people with psoriasis will develop psoriatic arthritis. Symptoms are pain and numbness due to inflammation that occurs in the morning or after a break, but the symptoms can last all day. The joints can be swollen and warm to the touch.
- Infectious arthritis – or septic arthritis occurs as a result of a bacterial, viral or fungal infection of tissue and fluid in the joint. It affects the joints usually after a previous infection in the body. The infection spreads to the joint tissue throughout the bloodstream from another part of the body, such as the skin, nose, throat, ears, or open wound. Within a few hours or days, pain, inflammation, swollen joints and fever occur. The joints most commonly affected with infectious arthritis are the knees, hips, shoulders, ankles. Damaged joints are more susceptible to infection. Common bacterial causes of infectious arthritis are Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Staphylococcus aureus. Some joint infections can be caused by more than one organism.
- Joint injuries – can cause painful, swollen joints and stiffness. Sometimes, joint pain can be caused by injured or torn muscles, tendons, and ligaments that surround the joint, bursitis (inflammation of small fluid-filled sacs in the joints), tendonitis (damage and inflammation of the tendon), dislocation, strain, sprains, and fractures.
HERE ARE SOME OF THE SYMPTOMS OF SWOLLEN JOINTS:
Deep, severe pain – there are many causes of pain. Pain cause can be easily distinguished if we divide it into nociceptive and neuropathic pain. How to treat pain depends mostly on what kind of pain it is. Examples of nociceptive pain are injury or broken bone. Tissue damage or injury initiates signals that are transmitted through the peripheral nerves to the brain via the spinal cord, and we become aware of pain. Neuropathic pain is pain caused by damage or disease affecting the nervous system. Sometimes there is no obvious source of pain, and this pain can occur spontaneously. A classic example of this pain is shingles (an infectious group of disease caused by infection) and diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Pain can occur after nerve damage or after a stroke.
Warm joints to the touch – appears as a symptom in many normal and abnormal conditions. For example, joint warmth is a normal part of the healing process after joint replacement (arthroplasty). Injuries, including fractures, bruises and bleeding into a joint, can lead to joint warmth. Wrist warmth can also be a result of joint disease or injury that causes inflammation. These diseases and injuries include arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis, as well as an infection that directly or indirectly involves the joint, such as from bacteria or viruses and septic arthritis, Osgood-Schlatter’s disease, repetitive motion injuries, cellulitis, fractures, dislocated knees, sickle cell disease, abscesses, obesity, knee strain, rheumatic fever, torn meniscus, patellofemoral pain syndrome.
Joint stiffness – is a feeling of difficulty in movement of the joint or an apparent loss of range of motion of the joint. Joint stiffness is often accompanied by joint pain and/or swollen joints. Depending on the cause of joint stiffness, these symptoms can occur: redness, tenderness, heat, tingling, or numbness of the affected area. Joint stiffness can be caused by injury or joint pain and is a common symptom of arthritis. Joint damage, including stiffness, can also occur after a joint injury. Sometimes injuries or inflammation of surrounding areas, such as bursitis, can cause pain that can restrict joint movement and be perceived as joint stiffness. Joint pain is also called arthralgia.
Joint redness – refers to the redness of the skin around the joint. It can often be accompanied by heat, joint swelling, limited range of motion, joint stiffness, or joint pain. Joint redness is common in active arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis. Redness can also develop due to injury to the joint or surrounding structures. Depending on the exact cause, joint redness may occur in a single joint or multiple joints in the body. Arthritis can be caused by many reasons and all can cause joint redness. Tumors of the bone or joint lining (synovium) are very rare causes of joint symptoms, including redness.
SWOLLEN JOINTS CAN BE A SYMPTOM OF VERY SERIOUS ILLNESSES
Leg edema can be a symptom of some more serious kidney, liver and heart disease. Patients who are affected usually know their diagnosis and are aware that swelling is a consequence of the disease.
It is also important to know that not every swelling is due to a serious and hard illness, the joints can swell due to prolonged sitting or standing and because of the heat. But if the joints are swollen for a long time and this is accompanied by other symptoms, it is imperative to seek medical advice.
Not all swollen joints are treated in the same way and the treatment depends on the problem or diagnosis. But for all those affected, it is recommended a lifestyle change that involves moving or adjusted exercising and changing eating habits, which includes excluding foods that promote inflammation in the body as well as the use of dietary supplements as well as creams that relieve pain and reduce inflammation.