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General Medical Questions
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Question : Over the past 3 weeks, I’ve developed pain in my ankles, Achilles tendon, knee and elbows. The pain is minor to severe, and it feels like the pain moves from joint to joint. I haven’t changed my routine or had any injuries. So what could cause this?
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The Trusted Source
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Howard LeWine, M.D.

Robert H. Shmerling, M.D. is associate physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and associate professor at Harvard Medical School. He has been a practicing rheumatologist for over 20 years at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. He is an active teacher in the Internal Medicine Residency Program, serving as the Robinson Firm Chief. He is also a teacher in the Rheumatology Fellowship Program.

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December 09, 2011
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A:

There are literally dozens of possible causes of your symptoms. These include:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Reactive arthritis (joint inflammation that follows a few weeks after an infection)
  • Other diseases marked by joint inflammation (such as arthritis associated with psoriasis or inflammatory bowel disease)
  • Rheumatic fever
  • Infection (especially viral infections, such as Parvovirus, certain sexually transmitted diseases, and Lyme disease)
  • Joint inflammation caused by uric acid or other crystals in one or more joints (gout, for example)
  • Tendonitis or ligament strain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Endocrine disorders (including thyroid disease)
  • Vitamin D deficiency

It’s impossible to narrow down this long list without more specific information.

Many causes of joint pain will go away with time. But since you’ve had symptoms for over 3 weeks, it’s worth getting checked out. By reviewing details of your medical history and a physical exam, your doctor may be able to narrow down this list quickly. Blood tests and x-rays may also help.

If the diagnosis is not clear and your symptoms persist, consider making an appointment with a rheumatologist, an arthritis expert.

Early diagnosis and treatment of your joint pain can get you feeling better quickly. It may also help protect your joints from damage.

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