Identifying the many causes of joint pain

Whether it's sore shoulders from leaning over a desk at work, stiff knees first thing in the morning or creaking ankles during marathon training season, most people have experienced joint pain at some point.

Joint pain can range from mild discomfort to pain so severe you can’t move the joint. Pain can last for hours, weeks or months at a time.

In the case of arthritis, joint pain can be a disease on its own, but it's often a symptom of some type of illness or injury. Lots of different things can cause joint pain including:

  • Arthritis
  • Broken bones or fractures
  • Bursitis
  • Dislocation
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Tendon or ligament injury
  • Lupus
  • Lyme disease
  • Strain or overuse

If you have joint pain, talk to an orthopaedic doctor about your symptoms. They'll ask you questions about your health and perform a physical exam. You might also need blood tests or imaging tests to help figure out a diagnosis.

While joint pain can get worse or more frequent as you get older, it can also affect children. If your child has pain, make an appointment with a pediatrician to figure out the root cause.

Choosing the right treatment for your pain

Treatment for joint pain depends on what's causing it. In many cases, over-the-counter medicines like NSAIDs and home care with rest, ice, elevation and braces or wraps can help control your pain.

Sometimes, you might need other medicines, physical therapy or even surgery to treat the underlying cause of your pain. Orthopaedics at Main Line Health offers a team of orthopaedic experts who can quickly diagnose your issues and develop a personalized treatment plan.


Ankle Joint Replacement

As an alternative to ankle fusion, which locks the joint in a fixed position and does not permit ankle motion, ankle replacement replaces the arthritic surfaces with metal and plastic low-friction implants.

Arthroscopy and Arthroplasty

Arthroscopic surgery, also known simply as arthroscopy and arthroplasty are two minimally invasive surgical types. A traditional or open surgical procedure is one that opens up an area fully. Minimally-invasive procedures encompass both small incision surgeries and those with minimally invasive techniques that do not open up an area fully. Arthroscopic surgery

Elbow Replacement

People with arthritis or other conditions that may have severely damaged the elbow joint can experience relief with corrective elbow replacement surgery.

Epidural Corticosteroid Injections

Your doctor may recommend epidural steroid injections after other noninvasive treatment approaches have failed to relieve your pain.

Foot and Ankle Surgery

Hip Fracture Surgery

The type of hip fracture repair surgery you may have generally depends on the location and severity of the fracture, whether the broken bones aren't properly aligned (displaced fracture), and your age and underlying health conditions.

Hip Injections

Hip Replacement

Total hip replacement surgery is an operation that removes the arthritic ball of the upper thigh bone as well as the damaged cartilage from the hip socket. This hip replacement operation creates a new weight-bearing surface and a smoothly functioning joint to relieve pain and allow you to return to daily activities

Hip Resurfacing Procedure

Hip resurfacing or resurfacing hip surgery is an alternative to hip replacement surgery. It is a bone conserving procedure that places a metal cap on the femoral head instead of amputating it.

Joint Aspiration

This procedure is used to relieve pain and swelling by removing fluid from the joint space but also allows for fluid analysis to diagnose gout, arthritis and joint infection.

Joint Distension

Joint distension, or hydrodilitation, involves injection of sterile water into the joint to expand the area and help the adhesions loosen and pull away so the shoulder is no longer restricted.

Joint Manipulation

Joint manipulation under anesthesia is performed by an orthopedist skilled at stretching and maneuvering parts of the body to break up scar tissue “adhesions” in major joint locations such as elbow, knee, pelvis and shoulder.

Joint Replacement

Whether your journey leads to hip or knee replacement or some other type of treatment that relieves your day-to-day pain and improves mobility, Main Line Health walks with you from pre-op arrangements to on-site physical therapy to recovering soundly at home—and everything in between.

Knee Replacement

Knee replacement surgery, also called total knee replacement surgery, often involves “resurfacing,” a procedure in which the damaged cartilage surfaces at the ends of the femur and tibia are removed.

Non-Surgical Orthopaedic Treatments

Some orthopaedic conditions are first treated with non-surgical procedures followed by surgery as the next step.

Orthopaedic Surgery

Platelet-Rich Plasma Treatment

One of the newest treatments for various orthopaedic problems and injuries ranging from sprained knees to chronic tendon injuries is platelet-rich plasma, or PRP.

Orthopaedic Rehabilitation

As one of the most extensive programs at Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital, our primary focus is to help patients build strength, mobility and endurance for a variety of orthopaedic conditions.

Physical Therapy

Each inpatient and outpatient physical therapy rehab is individually designed and administered by a licensed physical therapist who consistently guides you from that first visit all the way through recovery.

Shoulder Joint Replacement

Learn more about the total shoulder joint replacement and reverse total shoulder replacement surgeries offered and Main Line Health.

Shoulder Surgery, Revision

Wrist Joint Replacement

The procedure involves surgical removal of damaged bones and replacement with artificial (prosthetic) wrist parts made of plastic and metal, which restore movement to the wrist and can help relieve pain.

Elbow Surgery


Pain Management

Discover how Main Line Health experts serve Philadelphia by treating a wide range of conditions, including back, neck and oncology-related pain.

Comprehensive Weight and Wellness

The weight loss doctors and specialists at Main Line Health in the western suburbs of Philadelphia want you to know that we can help—and we are experts in weight loss that actually works, for a lifetime. Find a weight loss doctor near me.


Rheumatic conditions can significantly impact your daily life. Our experts are here for you every step of the way. Our rheumatologists have years of experience, treating all musculoskeletal and autoimmune diseases with compassionate and personalized care.

Sports Medicine

If you’ve had a sports-related injury or have a condition that’s keeping you out of the game, our sports medicine expert physicians and specialists are here to help you get back to doing the things you love.