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Home working

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If you work from home, you might not have had a workplace occupational health assessment. This makes you more vulnerable to musculoskeletal problems caused by poor posture, inadequate breaks, or an inappropriate workstation. Not addressing sore joints may ultimately threaten your ability to work at all.


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One of the most common causes of sore joints, osteoarthritis is also the most common type of arthritis. As well as sore joints, you may notice swelling around the affected area and a grating noise when you move. Exercise, weight loss and supportive devices for the affected joints are the first line of treatment.


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Signs of bursitis include an aching, dull pain around a joint, and skin that feels warmer or more tender than usual. Bursitis is inflammation of the fluid-filled sac around the joint. It can affect any joint but is most common in the shoulder, hip, knee, and elbow. Ice and rest are two treatments to try at home.

Rheumatoid arthritis

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Usually affecting the feet, wrists, and hands, rheumatoid arthritis is a long-term condition that can be very disabling. Affected joints are painful, frequently swollen, and often very stiff. Sufferers may also experience flare-ups when symptoms become more acute. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder, and early diagnosis and treatment is essential to minimize its effects.


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Joints naturally suffer from age-related deterioration. Noticeable effects may include stiffness, pain, and loss of flexibility. Moderate exercise and a good diet, including plenty of calcium, can help to slow down the rate of deterioration. However, before changing your diet or exercise routine, it’s sensible to see a medical practitioner to rule out anything else that may be contributing to the problem.

Old injury

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It’s possible for an old injury, even one you thought was resolved, to flare up and cause joint problems. Sometimes these problems are minor and, for example, easy to resolve with physiotherapy. However, occasionally, an old injury may have a more systemic and serious effect. Possible consequences include post-traumatic arthritis. This is a sub-type of osteoarthritis that’s most commonly seen in children and adolescents.


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If you have a diagnosis of lupus, you need to know that this autoimmune disease causes joint problems in as many as 95% of sufferers. For some people, this presents as arthritis. For others, it presents as arthralgias, which is joint pain without swelling. Only medical diagnostics can confirm which type is causing any problems that you develop and, hence, what treatment is most appropriate.


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Gout is yet another type of arthritis. It causes sudden, very severe joint pain – typically in the big toe. You may also notice that the skin around the joint becomes very hot and inflamed. Gout affecting the big toe is usually easily identifiable but it’s worth knowing that the condition can also affect other joints, including the feet, knees, wrists, hands, and elbows.

Thyroid problems

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A malfunctioning thyroid gland can cause many problems. For instance, untreated hypothyroidism (when the body doesn’t produce enough of the thyroid hormone) can cause joint pain and swelling, especially in the hands, knees, and feet. Over-the-counter painkillers may help settle the problem but it’s essential that the underlying cause is correctly diagnosed and treated.

Lyme disease

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This tick-borne disease carries many potential health implications for anyone unlucky enough to be bitten by an infected tick. Lyme arthritis causes swelling of the large joints. Usually, it’s the knees that are affected but shoulders, hips, wrists, elbows, ankles and jaw are all vulnerable. Oral antibiotics is the standard treatment but referral to a rheumatologist may be necessary.

Septic arthritis

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Usually located in just one joint, septic arthritis is severe pain that starts very suddenly. Sufferers may also experience swelling around the joint, discoloration of the skin, and a high fever. Caused by pathogens getting into the joint, perhaps following injury or surgery, septic arthritis is a life-threatening emergency. It needs urgent treatment with antibiotics given in hospital.

Lack of fitness

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As you’ll know, inactivity can cause all kinds of problems. This includes weaker joints and stiffness. Although it may seem counterintuitive if you’re already in pain or discomfort but gentle exercise, which is gradually increased in both duration and intensity, is the best treatment for this joint-related issue.

Poor workstation set-up

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Long hours spent at a computer cause a variety of health issues. One of the most common are postural problems caused by a seat that doesn’t provide adequate support, a screen or keyboard that’s at the wrong height, or both. Setting up an ergonomic workstation and supporting the lower back with a lumbar cushion can help, as can taking regular breaks.


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This sexually-transmitted disease can cause a variety of problems throughout the body. Gonorrheal arthritis is a complication that’s most common in teenage girls. It occurs when the gonorrheal bacteria spread from the blood into a joint. The result is swollen, painful joints, skin lesions, and, without treatment, chronic joint problems.

Osgood Schlatter’s disease

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Common in young people who participate in a lot of sport, Osgood Schlatter’s disease is inflammation of part of the knee joint. It often presents with a painful bump, palpable through the skin, that hurts more during activity. Rest frequently eases the problem. Osgood Schlatter’s disease tends to be self-limiting, with most cases resolving as the sufferer’s growth rate slows.

Excess weight

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Excess weight places considerable strain on the body, including its joints. As well as increasing the risk of arthritis, bursitis and tendonitis, excess weight is often associated with inflammation of the cartilage at the ends of the long bones of the body. The resulting pain and stiffness is frequently felt in the nearby joints. Appropriate weight loss is the best solution.

Sports’ injury

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For most professional sportspeople, injury is an occasional – if unwelcome – inevitability. However, their training and dietary regimes, plus the support of medics and physiotherapists, is designed to reduce the risks and make recovery as swift as possible. Without this support structure, amateur sportspeople are even more prone to injury, including joint injuries. Knees are commonly affected and may require physiotherapy or other medical care.


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Did you know that this common childhood illness can also affect the joints? That’s because the virus can sometimes cause infectious arthritis. If this happens, it tends to do so before the development of the classic symptom of the swollen parotid glands. Prevention in the form of vaccination is the best way of avoiding mumps and all its potential complications.


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Joint and muscle pain is a common influenza symptom. Essentially, this is a sign that the body’s immune system is attacking the virus. However, particularly when coupled with fever, the pain can be debilitating. Over the counter pain relief may help relieve symptoms but medical advice should be sought if joint pain persists for more than a week or two once the flu has disappeared.


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Herpes simplex is a common virus that’s spread most easily via skin-to-skin contact. It’s treatable but not curable and, once infected, sufferers may experience periodic outbreaks. Mostly, this consists of painful ulcers or blisters. However, sometimes, the virus can cause acute monoarticular arthritis. This usually presents as swollen and painful joints.


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More commonly known as “runner’s knee”, this is the softening of the cartilage in the knee cap. It’s usually a result of over-training, particularly on hard surfaces. Symptoms include pain and a grinding sensation but often ease or lift entirely following a few days’ rest. Chondromalacia is usually seen in younger people but occasionally also presents in older ones with pre-existing arthritis.


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This is a chronic condition that causes a variety of symptoms. These frequently include musculoskeletal and joint pain. Symptoms are frequently worse when the sufferer is tired so rest may help alleviate pain. Diagnosis is difficult as there are no specific tests to confirm it definitively.


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When the tough cords that connect bones to muscles become inflamed, the result is tendinitis. This is a condition that can cause very acute pain, and make moving the affected area difficult. Any tendon can be affected but the condition is most commonly seen in the shoulder, elbow, wrist, knee, or heel.


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Rickets is a vitamin D deficiency. It’s most common in dark-skinned young children, living in northern climes, where sunlight is less strong. It’s also found more frequently in children who eat a diet that includes no meat, fish, milk or eggs. Early symptoms can include joint pain and, left untreated, the condition can cause serious and permanent skeletal deformities.


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This is an inflammatory disease caused by the body’s own over-reaction to an infectious agent, such as a virus or bacteria. The result is inflammation of one or more of the body’s organs. Symptoms vary but may include joint pain. Diagnosis and treatment are difficult but the condition frequently spontaneously improves.


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Although Covid-19 is not known to cause permanent joint damage, the long-term effects of the illness are unclear. What is certain, however, is that muscular and joint pain is common during the duration of an infection. Over-the-counter painkillers can help alleviate this pain. Joint problems that persist after infection has cleared may warrant referral to a Long Covid specialist.

Palindromic rheumatism

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This is a type of inflammatory arthritis that characterized by episodic bouts of inflammation, pain and tenderness. Although palindromic rheumatism itself does not cause permanent damage to the affected joints, around half of all sufferers will go on to develop the more serious rheumatoid arthritis.


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Many of the sub-types of vasculitis are implicated in joint pain. For instance, rheumatoid vasculitis is a rare complication of rheumatoid arthritis. Although this form of vasculitis is rarely directly responsible for joint pain, a sufferer will already have been experiencing it thanks to the arthritis. Meanwhile, giant cell arteritis, another type of vasculitis, may cause pain in the joints in the jaw.

Whipple’s disease

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Whipple’s disease is a systemic – whole body – disease caused by a bacteria. Joint pain is often a result of the nutritional deficiencies common in sufferers. It’s unlikely, therefore, to be the first sign of the disease but may indicate the progress of the disease. Left untreated, Whipple’s disease can be fatal.


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Shigella are bacteria that cause an easily transmissible infection called shigellosis. It’s relatively common among travelers to third world countries and is also sometimes found in childcare settings. Symptoms are mostly gastrointestinal but a small percentage of those infected will go on to develop reactive arthritis – and this may cause joint pain.


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A dislocation, sprain or even a fracture can go overlooked for hours or even days. Any swelling that doesn’t go down with rest, ice, compression, and elevation, or any pain that persists, are signs that it’s time to seek medical advice. Joints are delicate structures and, without the right treatment, may suffer permanent damage following an injury.


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Although a rare cause of joint pain, cancer remains a possibility. Primary bone cancer may cause joint pain if the cancer begins in or spreads to a joint. Furthermore, some secondary cancers have a tendency to affect the bones and joints. These include breast cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, and multiple myeloma.


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This is another bacteria that, if ingested – usually in undercooked pork – can cause serious infection. The result is known as Yersiniosis. Symptoms are mostly abdominal and feverishness. However, a small percentage of those affected will go on to develop reactive arthritis, which causes joint pain. Affected individuals may also experience a skin rash over their legs and torso.

Periodontal disease

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Health really does begin in the mouth. Unchecked periodontal disease can have a variety of unpleasant effects elsewhere in the body. These effects may include joint pain and tenderness. What’s more, experts have long known that there’s a relationship between periodontal disease and rheumatoid arthritis, and dental problems are common during even the earliest stages of rheumatoid arthritis.


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Infection by the salmonella bacterium usually results in unpleasant gastrointestinal symptoms. However, eating raw or undercooked eggs, poultry or meat that’s carrying the bacteria can mean more than diarrhea and vomiting. Some sufferers will go on to experience joint pain as a consequence of reactive arthritis triggered by the infection.


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Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, remains a largely misunderstood and little-known condition. Sufferers experience a range of symptoms, which may appear episodically. Joints are commonly affected, resulting in aches and pains so severe that the sufferer may not be able to get out of bed.


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Like some other sexually transmitted infections, chlamydia can sometimes affect the joints. It does this by triggering reactive arthritis. If the initial infection is treated speedily with antibiotics, reactive arthritis is less likely to develop. However, chlamydia is often symptomless, particularly in women, making diagnosis and treatment harder.

Hereditary angioedema

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This rare disorder affects the blood and lymphatic system. It causes blood and lymph fluid to accumulate outside their normal vessels, resulting in swollen tissues. These swellings may be large, itchy and even painful. They can also last for several days. Where they occur over joints, sufferers may experience joint pain.

Psoriatic arthritis

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This form of arthritis is characterized by the itchy, raised skin rash that accompanies it. However, as with other forms of arthritis, psoriatic arthritis also causes swollen, inflamed and painful joints. The condition is usually seen in people with pre-existing psoriasis of the skin. Warning signs of an attack include a joint that feels warmer than usual, fatigue, and blurred vision.


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Yet another bacterium with the potential to cause reactive arthritis as well as gastrointestinal symptoms, infection with Camphylobacter results in camphylobacteriosis. Most infections are mild although young children, the elderly, and the immunosuppressed need greater care. If reactive arthritis develops, it normally does so within four weeks of initial infection.