Is it Joint Pain or Bone Pain?

by Jsantos, January 3, 2014

Is it Joint Pain or Bone Pain?

Most people don”t realize that the bone is actually living tissue. Any injury or infection of the bone is quite painful. A bone may be bruised from any blunt injury.

If severe, such bruises may take several weeks to heal. Persistent pain, localized in a particular bone or area of a bone, may also be a symptom of something more serious, such as bone infection or even a tumor.

Most people tent to confuse bone pain with joint pain. Generalized bone pain is often a vague symptom that accompanies viral infections such as the flu. You may also have a low-grade fever and muscle aches and pains. The union of two or more bones forms your joints. Most of your joints are supported by tough fibrous bands -ligaments- and enclosed  in capsules -bursa- that protect and lubricate them.

Localized joint pain is a symptom that follows an injury to a ligament or cartilage or an inflammation of a bursa. Another cause of localized joint pain is a condition called gout (Which sometimes appears during pregnancy as a side effect of the hormone adaption process). If you have gout, you have probably had attacks before. The pain is usually localized in one joint, which is often red and swollen.

Generalized joint pain is usually not a serious symptom unless it persists for more than several days or comes and goes. Usually it is one symptom of a viral illness, along with fever and muscle aches. When joint pain do persist, they may be a symptom of a generalized infection, arthritis or other serious illness and you should contact an orthopedic doctor as soon as possible.


Home treatment for a bruise consists of cold packs to relieve the swelling. Avoid further injury to a bruised area. If your physician suspects an infection or a tumor, he will order X-rays to confirm his diagnosis.

Bone infections may require hospitalization and intravenous antibiotics. Localized joint pain due to trauma usually requires splinting of the injured joint. Avoid putting weight or further strain on the joint. Cold packs may help reduce the swelling. Your doctor will check the injured joint and order X-rays if he suspects a fracture or dislocation. If your pain is severe, he may prescribe pain medication and possibly an anti-inflammatory drug. If your joint is infected or you have gout your doctor will diagnose and treat the underlying disease.

When do Bone or Joint Pain Should Become a Concern

If you have localized bone pain that did not result from a bruise, and it persists for more than a week, you must go see your doctor. When you also have symptoms of fever, weight loss, or redness and swelling over the bone, immediate care is required. Generalized bone pain that persists or is associated with fever and weight loss should definitively be reported to your doctor.

Sudden severe pain in a single joint following an injury or strenuous activity should be checked. Sudden pain with redness and swelling (particularly in your big toe) should make you suspect gout. Your doctor will do special tests to confirm this diagnosis.

Generalized joint pain of a few days” duration as one symptom of a cold or flu is usually nothing to worry about. If it persists, suspect a form of arthritis or a more serious condition. Fever, chest pain and shortness of breath associated with generalized joint pain likewise require prompt medical evaluation and treatment.

We at our Naples Orthopedic Doctor”s office are willing to help you answer any questions you may have if you find yourself suffering from some of the symptoms described. Don”t hesitate to contact us at 239.262.1119 or make an online appointment if you need further assistance.


Orthopedic Corner | Leon Mead MD Orthopedic Doctor | 730 Goodlette Road North, Suite 201  Naples Florida 34102 | Phone: (239) 262-1119

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