At Dr. Rogers Centers in San Antonio, TX, we know a thing or two about joint pain, including that which afflicts multiple joints at one time. It’s one of the most common reasons patients come to our offices, each with a unique situation and eager to find relief. To treat the many different culprits behind this frustrating pain, we offer several regenerative medicine options.
What Can Cause Pain in Multiple Joints?
The most common chronic joint condition is osteoarthritis (OA), affecting 27 million people across the U.S. It is the result of eroding cartilage – a strong and flexible fibrous tissue found between joints. Without this cushion, bones rub directly against each other to ignite joint pain and swelling.
We tend to think of OA as a condition that only afflicts older people, but it can appear at any age. Risk factors include:
- Being overweight
- Overuse of a joint, such as playing sports
- Repeatedly placing stress on the joint
- Being female
Those places most commonly affected by osteoarthritis include the fingers, neck, lower back, hips, and knees. Activity often aggravates symptoms, so if you find yourself feeling more pain after rising from bed and moving around, that is usually a sign of OA. Exercise is a known way to keep the joints loose so patients don’t lose mobility. The goal of treatment, therefore, is to ease the pain so patients can resume normal activities.
This chronic, inflammatory disease impacts the joints, specifically where tendons and ligaments connect to bone. It affects around 30% of patients with psoriasis, a skin disease that causes scaly red patches. Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) can develop at any age, including in children, although it is commonly diagnosed in people between the ages of 30 and 50.
Early recognition and diagnosis are key to limiting the joint damage PsA can cause in later stages. It’s important to know the symptoms of PsA can appear before those of psoriasis. This means that even if you’re not aware you have psoriasis, you can still be at risk for PsA and should see a doctor for proper diagnosis.
What to Look For
Some people develop PsA symptoms slowly, while others experience them quickly and with great severity. The most common signs to look for include:
- Swelling in the fingers and toes
- Pain, tenderness, and swelling over tendons
- Throbbing, swelling, stiffness, and pain in one or more joints
- Morning joint stiffness and fatigue
- Reduced range of motion
- Redness and pain in the eye
- Changes to your nails, such as pitting or separation from the nail bed
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is known for causing intense pain in multiple joints. This disease takes hold when the immune system functions improperly and attacks the body’s joint linings. The most common places RA develops include the ankles, knees, and hands, with the same joint on either side of the body usually affected.
While researchers don’t fully understand why, women are at greater risk for RA than men, and it often develops in middle age. Having a family member with RA increases your own likelihood of developing the condition.
The immune system in a healthy person works to fight such invaders as viruses and bacteria. But RA is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system perceives the body’s cells as trespassers and releases chemicals that attack them. In the case of RA, the immune system mistakenly goes after the synovium. This tissue lines every joint and produces fluid to help them move more smoothly.
Once inflamed, the synovium becomes thicker and causes pain, swelling, and tenderness. In turn, the joint becomes stiff and difficult to move. Researchers believe those who develop RA have specific genes activated by one of the following factors:
- Physical trauma or injury
- Emotional stress
- Presence of a certain virus or bacteria, such as those involved with periodontal disease
- Smoking cigarettes
- Being overweight
Joint pain, swelling, tenderness, and stiffness that persists for longer than six weeks are among the earliest clues to RA. Many people additionally feel significant fatigue, and some experience a low-grade fever. Symptoms usually come and go, and periods of inflammation and pain are known as flares. Depending on a person’s body, one flare can last for days or months.
Recognized as an extremely painful form of arthritis, gout can be severe enough to wake you in the middle of the night. It often affects the big toe, but chronic gout can also impact multiple joints. Episodes usually last between three and 10 days and can be triggered by alcohol or stress. Men are more susceptible to gout than women, and excess body weight is another risk factor.
This condition is marked by insufficient levels of thyroid hormone. The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped organ located at the back of the neck; the hormones it releases help regulate body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. You can therefore see how hypothyroidism quickly becomes problematic when left untreated.
Surprisingly, the condition can also cause musculoskeletal symptoms that range from dull joint and muscle pain to diagnosable arthritis or muscle disease. Thyroid hormones are crucial to the development of many body tissues, including the cellular growth and reproduction of bone and cartilage. In adult hypothyroidism, most cases of joint pain involve the knees and hands.
This disorder causes extreme fatigue and pain throughout the body – including in multiple joints, soft tissues, and muscles. It is often confused with arthritis, but doctors consider fibromyalgia to be a pain disorder. Those with autoimmune disorders like RA are more likely to develop this disease, and symptoms commonly appear between the ages of 30 and 55.
While the exact causes are unclear, researchers believe those with a specific gene experience a trigger, such as illness or physical or emotional stress. Pain signals that travel through the central nervous system then get ramped up to extremely high levels. This explains why people with fibromyalgia also react very strongly to elements like light, sound, heat, and pressure.
At our office, patients can choose from four different treatment options to ease joint pain and inflammation. Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is perhaps the most well-known of these therapies and involves injections of concentrated platelets derived from your own blood. Platelets are specialized blood cells that arrive first at the site of an injury. In addition to forming clots, they contain a variety of growth factors and healing proteins that help repair damaged tissues.
Currently used to treat pain in the ankles, knees, hips, and shoulders, Microfat has shown to be a promising therapy. We harvest a small sample of fat, usually from the flank area, and mechanically emulsify it using highly sophisticated equipment. The fat is rich in stem cells, and when injected into a painful joint, can help regenerate damaged tissues. We follow this treatment with PRP to achieve broad, comprehensive results for those with chronic pain.
Amniotic fluid contains an abundance of cytokines and growth factors associated with soft tissue regeneration, repair, and replacement, When injected into the body in targeted areas, these cells can ease the pain associated with a variety of conditions, including:
- Sports injuries
- Muscle tears
- Ligament and tendon sprains
- Joint pain
Involved with cell communication within the body, exosomes represent a new path for regenerative medicine. They are uniquely derived from stem cells and deliver a range of growth factors to areas of pain. In terms of healing, they recruit cells for tissue remodeling and block the inflammatory process. The exosomes used in our office are isolated from donated bone marrow and boast a much higher safety profile than those derived perinatally.
The Path to Pain-Free Living
Pain does not have to be an inevitable part of life. The therapies we offer have been widely studied and yield proven, long-lasting results even for patients who have unsuccessfully tried other treatments. Schedule your consultation today by contacting Dr. Rogers Centers in San Antonio, TX.