Contrary to popular belief, aches and pains are not a typical part of aging. Age alone does not mean a person automatically experiences aches and pains. Pain can be a red flag that points to a disease, illness or injury. Any pain that interferes with the activities of daily life is worthy of attention. highlights a number of conditions that can cause major aches and pains as a person ages, and offers information on diagnosis, treatment, self-care and coping.


Osteoarthritis, sometimes called degenerative joint disease or osteoarthrosis, is the most common form of arthritis. Osteoarthritis occurs when cartilage in joints wears down over time.

Osteoarthritis can affect any joint in the body, though it most commonly affects joints in the hands, hips, knees and spine. Typically, just one joint is affected, though in some cases, such as finger arthritis, several joints can be involved.

Osteoarthritis gradually worsens with time, and no cure exists. But treatments can relieve pain and help an individual remain active. Taking steps to actively manage osteoarthritis may help individuals control osteoarthritis pain.

Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory form of the disease that causes joint pain and damage. Rheumatoid arthritis attacks the lining of the joints (synovium) causing swelling that can result in aching, throbbing and eventually deformity. Sometimes rheumatoid arthritis symptoms make even the simplest activities -- such as opening a jar or taking a walk -- difficult.

Rheumatoid arthritis is two to three times more common in women than men and generally occurs between the ages of 40 and 60. The disease also can affect young children and older adults.

Psoriatic arthritis

Psoriatic arthritis is an inflammatory condition that affects the joints of children and adults who have psoriasis. A skin condition, psoriasis causes patches of thick, red skin to form on certain areas of the body. Not everyone with psoriasis develops psoriatic arthritis, but everyone with psoriatic arthritis has psoriasis.

Most people develop signs of psoriasis first and are later diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. Joint pain in people with psoriatic arthritis can range from mild to severe. Signs and symptoms often change as the disease continues.


Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition characterized by widespread pain in muscles, ligaments and tendons, as well as fatigue and multiple tender points -- places on the body where even slight pressure causes pain. Fibromyalgia is more common in women than men. Previously, the condition was known by names such as fibrositis, chronic muscle pain syndrome, psychogenic rheumatism and tension myalgias.

Although the intensity of symptoms may vary, they'll probably never disappear completely. Perhaps reassuring to know, however, is that fibromyalgia isn't progressive or life-threatening.


Coping with aches and pains is a constant challenge. Individuals should try to learn as much about their conditions from health care providers, support groups and health associations.

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What is pain?

For more information on what pain is and possible treatments, please see:
What is Pain? What Causes Pain?