Joint pain can occur at any age, but generally tends to affect older people.
It may be the result of an existing injury, but in most cases, it's caused by arthritis.
There are three common types of arthritis: osteoarthritis, which can affect the hands, knees and feet; rheumatoid arthritis, caused by inflammation in the joints as a result of damage to the immune system; and gout, which is often localised to the big toe, and is caused by uric acid crystals forming in the joints.
Joint pain can be frustrating and painful - and in severe cases, it has a very negative impact on mobility and quality of life.
Osteoarthritis usually occurs as the joints age - and is the most common form of arthritis. It affects older people especially, as their joints begin to suffer from 'wear and tear'. Osteoarthritis usually crops up in the fingers, base of the thumb, in the knees, big toe and feet.
Rheumatoid arthritis is caused by white blood cells producing antibodies which cause inflammation in the joint itself. The inflammation makes mobility difficult and causes pain and discomfort. The swelling in the joint usually feels soft to touch. It usually affects the knuckles or fingers, but the cause is unestablished. It usually affects people aged 25 to 55, but can develop at any age (even childhood).
Gout is extremely painful, and can occur in any joint. Most commonly, it affects the big toe. Gout is caused by uric acid crystallisation in the joint itself, and is often blamed on diet. Gout is often episodic, and may cause intensely painful periods before disappearing after a few days.
Many people try to alter their diet as they get older to help supplement the vital nutrients needed for healthy joint function. That may be in the form of tablets, or dietary supplements. A variety of products are available designed to help prevent or mitigate joint pain.
Some people choose to take daily supplements, such as cod liver oil, or take vitamin tablets to help increase their flexibility and fitness.
Painkillers can help to take the edge off the pain, but if you choose to take ibuprofen or paracetamol, be sure not to over-exert yourself - you could cause further damage by mistake.
Osteoarthritis is incurable, but treatments are available to ease the pain and limit disability as a result of the condition. Getting regular exercise and losing weight is a good place to start as this will help keep your body functioning properly and promote mobility.
Rheumatoid arthritis is often treated with painkillers such as ibuprofen. Ibuprofen is an anti-inflammatory, so this can help ease pressure in the affected joints. Corticosteroids may also be prescribed in some cases, along with disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs.
Gout medication includes painkillers like ibuprofen. Preventative medicines are also available on prescription. You can help limit gout attacks by changing your lifestyle, too - cutting down on meat, seafood, some vegetables and yeasty foods may help. Try to cut out alcohol altogether - binge drinking can accelerate a gout attack. Losing weight is also advised.