Joint Pain

Joints in the human body are situated along the back bone (spine) and other parts of the body (shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, ankles and small joints of hands and feet).

A joint is formed where two or more bones meet and designed to provide movement. Joint pain affects all ages. Pain is a sensation of perception and it signals physical, mental disturbances or underlying diseases. It varies in location, duration, severity and among individuals.

Causes of Joint Pain

Most people with joint pain do not have any damage to their joints. The pain may come from the outer layer tissue, muscles, ligaments, joints and nerve roots. Bones rarely cause pain.

  • Simple pain can be due to sprain or minor tear to a ligament or muscle contributed by strenuous activity, heavy lifting, bad posture, injury or awkward twisting movement.
  • Overweight
  • Spine and limbs deformities
  • Injuries ( accidents, sports etc)
  • Joint diseases such as arthritis
  • Nerve root pain ( nerve coming from the spine is irritated or trapped)
  • Bone Disorders
  • Tumours
  • Infections
  • Mental problem such as stress, depression, etc
  • Chronic diseases
  • Drugs


Joint pain is usually not due to serious diseases.

  • Mild and simple pain always goes away by simple measures such as adequate rest of the joint by splint or using crutches.
  • Apply cold packs (towel wrapped with ice) to immediately injured joints frequently for at least 30 minutes to reduce swelling and redness (imflammation)
  • After a few days, alternate cold and heat packs and gentle massage is helpful
  • Apply heat packs to provide relief for joint stiffness.
  • Use simple pain killers such as paracetamol (panadol) or NSAID group (if paracetamol is not helpful)
  • Lose weight
  • Wear flat shoes
  • Manage stress
  • Treatment for specific diseases

When to see a doctor?

  • If pain persists despite self treatment
  • When the pain gets worse and no improvement with painkillers
  • Immediately after severe injury
  • Pain preventing you from work
  • Pain accompanied by fever, vomiting, breathlessness, numbness and weakness
  • Significant weight loss
  • Loss of bladder control or bowel control
  • Blurring of vision
  • Abdominal pain or diarhoea
  • Swelling and redness of the joint
  • Having HIV or cancer


    • Posture – avoid standing or walking in a bent-forward position
    • Sleeping on a bed with a firm mattress
    • Avoid lifting heavy objects
    • Exercise regularly – good to maintain muscle and joint function
    • Losing weight will help
    • Take regular breaks including a few stretches-when driving, standing or sitting for long periods of time
    • Stress management.


Long term use of painkiller has no effect on health. Is it true?

No, prolonged use without medical advise is dangerous

Is application of cream form of pain killer helpful?

Maybe helpful for mild pain.

Is self medication from various traditional healers (Taking ‘tonic’ or ‘jamu’) safe?

It may be dangerous if the products and premises are not registered with National Pharmaceutical Control Bureaur.

Last Reviewed : 28 August 2020
Writer : Dr. Jamilah Abdullah
Reviewer : Dr. Nor Faizah bt. Ghazali