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Aching joints: what's the cause?

Siski Green / 19 October 2015 ( 14 July 2017 )

There are many causes for joint ache - find out if yours is anything to worry about.

Woman with knee pain
A night of tossing and turning, or even just sleeping awkwardly can make joints ache. Photo posed by model.






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There are many different types of arthritis but the one thing they all have in common is painful and stiff joints.

Depending on which type you have, symptoms and treatment will vary.

Rheumatoid arthritis, for example, is an autoimmune disease where your body’s immune system attacks the linings of your joints making movement painful.

Find out what you can do to help your rheumatoid arthritis

In osteoarthritis it’s inflammation that causes the joints in your body to be painful during movement.

With gout too much uric acid is in the blood causing sharp crystals to form in your joints causing swelling and intense pain. 

Arthritis: what you need to know


An innocent-seeming twist of the ankle can have lasting repercussions with pain or aches being felt for weeks afterwards if it’s not allowed to heal properly.

Bursitis, where the fluid-filled sacs (bursae) that protect the joints are injured in some way, usually through overexertion or an accident, can also cause joint ache.

Check for swelling or any other symptoms that could indicate an injury rather than something more serious.


Whether you’ve spent the night tossing and turning because the mattress or pillow was uncomfortable, or you’ve simply slept incredibly deeply, your night-time activity – or lack of it – can make joints ache.

For example, if you take a sleeping tablet you might sleep more deeply and move less as you sleep, which can result in joint pain (and potentially muscle ache too) the next day.

And, if a mattress or pillow, or even lack of warm bed clothes, causes you to sleep in an awkward position you might suffer with pain afterwards. 

Sleep: strategies for a better night's rest


This is a debilitating condition that is characterised by musculoskeletal pain, as well as fatigue, sleep issues, memory problems and mood changes.

There is no cure for it but treatments to control symptoms include medications and lifestyle changes such as doing more exercise, focusing on relaxation and stress reduction. 

What is fibromyalgia: symptoms and causes explained


One of the main distinguishing features of flu compared to a standard cold is an aching feeling in your bones.

If that feeling is combined with a fever and extreme fatigue, it’s possible you’ve been knocked out by a flu virus.

A virus usually clears up after two weeks however so if you’re still suffering with joint pain, see your GP. 

How to recover from colds and flu

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.