Joint Injuries

What is a joint injury?

Joints are the places in the body where different parts of your skeleton come together. Joint injuries occur at these intersections. There are four main types of joint injuries:

  • Strains: occur when muscles and/or tendons are overextended
  • Sprains: injuries to ligaments that hold bones together
  • Fractures: breaks, chips or cracks in bones
  • Dislocations: separation of a bone its normal position at a joint

Causes of joint injury

Joint injuries can be the result of direct trauma, overuse, or repeated wear and tear.

Symptoms of joint injury

Symptoms vary, depending on the type of joint injury you have:

  • Strain: pain, swelling, muscle spasms and difficulty moving the affected joint
  • Sprain: pain, swelling, bruising, difficulty with motion and (possibly) a popping sound at the time of injury
  • Fracture: swelling, loss of function in the injured area, pain that intensifies when you move or apply pressure to the injured area, or bone visibly poking out of your skin (in the case of an open fracture)
  • Dislocation: visible displacement of the joint, intense pain, swelling, discoloration, total immobility of the affected area


For strains and sprains, use the RICE method:

  • Rest: avoid use of the injured joint
  • Ice: apply an ice or cold pack to reduce swelling in the joint
  • Compression: wrap the injured joint with an elastic bandage, also to reduce swelling
  • Elevation: raise the injured area while sitting or lying down and icing it; ideally, the joint should be above the level of your heart

Several rounds of the RICE method should lead to recovery, and pain medicine can ease your discomfort.

If you’re unable to move the joint at all or feel numbness around your injured area, arrange to see your physician as soon as possible.

If you see signs of a broken bone or dislocated joint, you should also seek emergency medical assistance. Treatment options for fractures can range from immobilization or splinting of the injured area to surgery. Dislocations may be treated by resetting the joint, immobilizing it or performing surgery on it.

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Treatments for Joint Injuries

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Symptoms and Screenings for Joint Injuries

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Causes and Preventions for Joint Injuries

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Education and Resources for Joint Injuries

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Support groups for Joint Injuries

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Learn More about Joint Injuries

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