The Most Common Causes of Joint Pain

Joints are complex mechanisms that require multiple parts to work together flawlessly. When one of them malfunctions, they’re all affected. That’s why joint pain is so common and why there are so many different conditions that cause it. 

If you have joint pain and live in the Cedar Rapids, Iowa, area, you have access to one of the leaders in pain management. Dr. Stanley Mathew at American Rehabilitation Medicine is triple-board certified by the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, the American Board of Disability Analysts, and the American Board of Pain Medicine. 

His signature approach to diagnosis and treatment is multidisciplinary and highly individualized. You can trust him to identify the root cause of your joint pain and develop a custom treatment just for you. Here are some of the most common conditions that might be causing the pain and stiffness in your joints.

A word about joint pain

Because there are so many potential reasons for joint pain, it’s important to know how to categorize it so you can know when to treat it at home, when to see a doctor, and when to go to the emergency room. 

Treat at home

Make a doctor’s appointment

Get immediate help

If you have any doubts or questions about the nature of your joint pain, call us right away.


The leading cause of joint pain is arthritis, an umbrella term used to describe over 100 different joint conditions. The most common type is osteoarthritis, followed by rheumatoid arthritis. 

Osteoarthritis is often called the wear-and-tear disease because it involves the gradual deterioration of the protective cartilage inside your joints over years of use. 

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that causes chronic inflammation. It can attack your eyes, heart, lungs, and blood vessels, as well as your joints. 


Any repetitive use of a joint can cause tendinitis — swollen, irritated tendons. This usually occurs in the joint where the tendons connect your muscles to your bones. Because athletes repeat certain movements over and over again, tendinitis is a frequent problem, and some forms of it are named after specific sports, like swimmer’s or pitcher’s shoulder, tennis or golfer’s elbow, or jumper’s knee.


Another condition caused by repetitive motion is bursitis. Each of your joints is cushioned by bursae, small sacs filled with fluid. Bursae are meant to protect your bones, muscles, and tendons where they meet in your joint, but with overuse, they can become inflamed. You might notice that it hurts to press on the area. It might be red, warm, and swollen. And it will definitely be achy and stiff. 


Clearly, an injury to your joint will be painful. Examples of common joint injuries include: 

Most people know when they’ve had an injury. You may have fallen, been in an auto accident, or been tackled in a football game, and you know exactly what happened. The nature of your accident and injury helps Dr. Mathew make his diagnosis.

Chronic diseases

Long-term health conditions can also be the culprit in your joint pain. Diseases like fibromyalgia, lupus, gout, Lyme disease, and sarcoidosis (to name a few) can all include joint pain as a symptom. 

The right treatment for your joint pain

Some joint pain is temporary and can be completely eliminated with treatment; other conditions are incurable, but the pain and related symptoms can be managed.

Dr. Mathew starts with a conservative approach when warranted. This often includes traditional therapies like applying the RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) treatment, as well as physical therapy, chiropractic care, and heat. 

If needed, the next step may involve ultrasound, medications, electrical stimulation, and trigger-point therapy.

Steroid shots or peripheral nerve block injections can offer relief when other efforts aren’t helping. These typically allow you enough pain-free time to participate in the therapies that will help rehabilitate your joint.

Hyalgan® for knee pain

If you have osteoarthritis in your knee, Dr. Mathew offers a treatment that has shown to be very effective in alleviating this particular type of pain. It’s called Hyalgan, and it acts as a replacement for the fluid that normally surrounds your knee joint. When you have osteoarthritis, you lose this critical liquid.

Dr. Mathew injects the solution directly into your joint, where it goes to work lubricating your stiff, painful knee with hyaluronate, the same substance your joint once had when it was healthy and pain-free.

If any of your joints are stiff, achy, and painful, give us a call at 319-369-7331 or request an appointment online to get to the bottom of it — and the end of it — as soon as possible. 

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