Pharmacy Learning Centre
Joint pain glossary
Definitions of common medical and related terms used to describe joint pain, including its effects and management.
Activity-limiting joint pain
Participation in an activity limited by the joint pain itself or avoided owing to fear of inducing joint pain.
Activity-related joint pain
Joint pain brought on by movement or activity (e.g. high impact from running, which can cause knee pain).
Exercises that increase breathing and heart rate (e.g. swimming, cycling, walking).
Pain located at a site other than the joint line and associated with bone as the source. Often experienced as a dull pain that cannot be localised accurately by the individual.
Joints located between two or more bones without cartilage (e.g. synovial joints, such as the knee).
Chronic peripheral joint pain
Pain associated with the peripheral joints lasting more than three months (see ‘Peripheral joint‘).
Chronic joint pain
Pain associated with any joint lasting more than three months.
A painful, subjective symptom that is mild (<4/10 pain severity).
Activities designed to increase range of movement in a joint or muscle (e.g. stretching).
The body’s natural immune response to trauma or cell damage involving increased blood flow to the site of injury and the release of proteins and antibodies to prevent further harm. However, long-term or chronic inflammation can be harmful.
Inflammation of the joints associated with an underlying auto-immune response.
Pain felt acutely following onset of a trigger (e.g. following weight bearing exercise).
Local pain present in one or more joints. Also known as arthralgia.
A feeling of tightness in the joint resulting in limited or restricted movement of a joint.
Local strengthening exercises
Targeted, resistance exercises designed to enhance muscle strength.
Prolonged pressure or tension on nervous tissue (e.g. joints, bones or soft tissue) that is movement or activity related with no acute inflammation or acute tissue damage.
Mechanical joint pain
Activity or movement-related joint pain.
A clinical syndrome of joint pain accompanied by varying degrees of functional limitation and reduced quality of life (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence). A common form of arthritis typically with onset during middle or old age that is characterised by progressive degenerative changes in the cartilage of one or more joints (as of the knees, hips, and hands) accompanied by thickening and overgrowth of adjacent bone. Generally marked symptomatically by stiffness, swelling, pain, deformation of joints and loss of range of motion.
Participation restriction (joint pain-related)
Limited participation in an activity owing to fear of triggering joint pain or following the onset of joint pain.
Joints not in and around the spine (e.g. shoulder, knee, ankle).
Pain which is present for longer than expected after injury or illness.
Pain that noticeably becomes severe enough to interfere with a person’s day.
Affecting or relating to the root of the spinal nerve.
Sensation of tightness or difficulty moving experienced in certain parts of the body (e.g. joints or muscles).
Exercises designed to increase muscle strength, size, power and endurance (e.g. climbing stairs, weight-bearing exercises, heavy gardening, hill walking).
Associated with use or movement.
Pain that is felt in a specific limb.
Mild pain (<4/10 pain severity) felt in a specific limb.
Tightness felt in a specific limb.
An individual’s ability to support the weight of their body.
An activity that requires movement against gravity while staying upright.