Merck Manual

Please confirm that you are not located inside the Russian Federation

honeypot link

Joint Pain: Single Joint

By

The Manual's Editorial Staff

Medically Reviewed Jul 2021 | Modified Sep 2022
VIEW PROFESSIONAL VERSION
Get the full details

Joints are places in your body where two bones come together, such as your wrists, elbows, shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles.

Joints also exist where you might not think. For example, there are joints between the many bones in your feet, hands, pelvis, and spine.

What causes pain in a single joint?

At all ages, the most common cause of sudden pain in one joint is:

  • Injury

If you haven't been injured, the most common causes depend on your age.

Among young adults:

Among older adults:

Less common causes of pain in one joint include:

Osteonecrosis is when bone dies and collapses. Bone can die as a result of serious injury (such as a broken hip) or as a side effect of some medicines (such as corticosteroids).

When should I see a doctor?

What will happen at my doctor’s visit?

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history and do a physical exam.

Doctors may do tests such as:

How do doctors treat joint pain?

Doctors will treat the cause of your pain. For example, if you have a bone fracture, doctors may put your joint in a cast. If you have a joint infection, they will give you antibiotics and often do surgery to drain the infection.

Doctors may also treat your joint pain with:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or acetaminophen

  • A splint or sling

  • Applying heat or cold—sometimes doctors will have you alternate heat and cold

Drugs Mentioned In This Article

Generic Name Select Brand Names
7T Gummy ES, Acephen, Aceta, Actamin, Adult Pain Relief, Anacin Aspirin Free, Apra, Children's Acetaminophen, Children's Pain & Fever , Comtrex Sore Throat Relief, ED-APAP, ElixSure Fever/Pain, Feverall, Genapap, Genebs, Goody's Back & Body Pain, Infantaire, Infants' Acetaminophen, LIQUID PAIN RELIEF, Little Fevers, Little Remedies Infant Fever + Pain Reliever, Mapap, Mapap Arthritis Pain, Mapap Infants, Mapap Junior, M-PAP, Nortemp, Ofirmev, Pain & Fever , Pain and Fever , PAIN RELIEF , PAIN RELIEF Extra Strength, Panadol, PediaCare Children's Fever Reducer/Pain Reliever, PediaCare Children's Smooth Metls Fever Reducer/Pain Reliever, PediaCare Infant's Fever Reducer/Pain Reliever, Pediaphen, PHARBETOL, Plus PHARMA, Q-Pap, Q-Pap Extra Strength, Silapap, Triaminic Fever Reducer and Pain Reliever, Triaminic Infant Fever Reducer and Pain Reliever, Tylenol, Tylenol 8 Hour, Tylenol 8 Hour Arthritis Pain, Tylenol 8 Hour Muscle Aches & Pain, Tylenol Arthritis Pain, Tylenol Children's, Tylenol Children's Pain+Fever, Tylenol CrushableTablet, Tylenol Extra Strength, Tylenol Infants', Tylenol Infants Pain + Fever, Tylenol Junior Strength, Tylenol Pain + Fever, Tylenol Regular Strength, Tylenol Sore Throat, XS No Aspirin, XS Pain Reliever
NOTE: This is the Consumer Version. DOCTORS: VIEW PROFESSIONAL VERSION
VIEW PROFESSIONAL VERSION
quiz link

Test your knowledge

Take a Quiz!
iOS ANDROID
iOS ANDROID
iOS ANDROID
TOP