What's Causing Your Unexplained Joint Inflammation?

What does it mean when your joints get puffy and sore?  If you've had an injury or accident, you know what caused it, but what if it comes out of nowhere?  Here, our list for what causes unexplained joint inflammation.

What is Joint Inflammation?

Joint Inflammation is caused by the buildup of fluid in the soft tissue surrounding the joint. Sometimes it comes with pain and stiffness; other times not. The joint may look abnormally shaped, enlarged, bumpy, red and swollen.  Sometimes, joint inflammation is a clear indication that the bones or tissues associated with it have been broken, torn, irritated or damaged in some other way. Other times, the cause isn't obvious, but indicates there's some kind of health problem. 

Arthritis is the official term for joint inflammation and it can be caused by many different conditions including:

Osteoarthritis is the most common joint disorder is caused by wear and tear on the joint as the cartilage cushion between two bones breaks down or bone spurs appear. 

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that causes joint inflammation, pain, stiffness, fatigue and sometimes, organ damage. Women get it more often than men and it usually occurs on both sides of the body.

Ankylosing spondylitis causes inflammation of the joints between the spinal bones, and joints connecting the spine and pelvis. It's a long-term disease that eventually causes the affected spinal bones to fuse together. It's painful and can cause severe disability.

Gout is a painful form of arthritis that occurs when uric acid builds up in the joints. Acute gout  usually affects only one joint but Chronic gout is repeated episodes that may involve multiple joints.

Systemic lupus erythematosus is a chronic autoimmune disorder that may affect skin, joints, kidneys, and other organs. It occurs more commonly in women then men and typically starts between ages 10 and 50. Almost everyone with Lupus gets joint inflammation, but they may also experience a wide range of other symptoms including chest pain, hair loss, cardiac damage and infertility.

Psoriatic arthritis is an uncommon manifestation of psoriasis (a common chronic skin condition that causes red patches on the body).  In about 1 in 20 cases, psoriasis affects the joints along with the skin. Mild cases of psoriatic arthritis involved only a few joints like in the fingers or toes. More severe cases affect multiple joints including the spine and sacrum, with pain, burning, and stiffness.

Joint inflammation can also be the result of allergic reactions, infections and a host of other diseases and conditions.  Contact your physician any time you experience joint swelling. Even if you know it's caused by a direct injury, your physician may be able to treat the swelling to prevent further joint damage. 


National Institutes of Health

Medline Plus

Joint Swelling