An elderly woman with sudden wrist pain

Many types of joint pain associated with arthritis are slow to develop and get worse over time if an effective treatment strategy is not in place. However, other types of joint pain occur unexpectedly and are a major cause of concern among people who don’t normally experience painful joints.

Here is some information about sudden joint pain all over, including what it feels like, sudden joint pain causes, and how to treat the pain when it strikes without warning.

We’ll address the areas of the body where sudden severe joint pain is commonly felt and when it may be time to consult a doctor about the joint pain symptoms.

What Is Sudden Joint Pain?

Sudden joint pain is a type of pain that isn’t knowingly associated with a chronic condition, but rather comes on quickly for one or more reasons. This sudden joint pain is typically sharp and acute, and it is felt in commonly overused joints, such as the hands and knees. Individuals who experience sudden severe joint pain may be able to pinpoint the cause of the pain, or it could be a mystery that has yet to be diagnosed.

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Sudden Joint Pain Causes

Sudden joint pain could be caused by an injury that affects a single large joint in the body,1,2,3 such as sudden joint pain in the hands. This type of pain occurs immediately following an injury and should subside once the injury naturally heals.2 An infection can also cause sudden joint pain and start causing pain within a few hours of being infected.4 Joint pain caused by an infection will often be accompanied by swelling, redness, and immobility of the joint.

Another issue that can cause sudden and severe joint pain is joint crystals caused by gout or other conditions that cause the crystals to form in the joint fluid due to uric acid build-up.5 This type of sudden joint pain commonly occurs in the big toe, instep of the foot, and ankle. Other sudden joint pain causes include tendonitis, lupus, other autoimmune diseases, measles, mumps, and chicken pox.

Sudden Joint Pain in Hands

One common place for sudden joint pain to occur is in the hands because of how many daily activities require the use of the hands.2 Lupus is a possible cause of sudden joint pain in the hands,6 as well as overuse disorders that suddenly hit their peak, like carpal tunnel syndrome.7,8,9

Sudden Joint Pain All Over

It is also possible to feel sudden joint pain all over, and not just in one singular part of the body. This type of sudden pain is often due to the start of a chronic joint disorder or due to inflammation. The pain is usually acute and affects multiple joints.4 Septic arthritis is a possible cause of sudden joint pain all over because this type of arthritis is caused by inflamed joints that are affected by bacteria or fungi in the bloodstream.10,11

How to Treat Sudden Severe Joint Pain

To help treat sudden severe joint pain, try applying fast-acting JointFlex to the site of pain for immediate and long-lasting relief. It may help to increase physical activity after the sudden joint pain begins to stretch and mobilize the joints.4 Consuming more omega-3 fatty acids and getting a massage may help with the sudden pain as well. 12,13 If your sudden joint pain is severe, or you’re unsure of the cause, seek medical attention.

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3. Knee pain. MedlinePlus. Retrieved October 18, 2018
4. Villa-Forte, A. (2017 December). Joint pain: Many joints. The Merck Manual: Consumer Version. Retrieved October 20, 2018 from,-joint,-and-muscle-disorders/symptoms-of-musculoskeletal-disorders/joint-pain-many-joints.
5. Edwards, N. L. (2018 May). Gout. The Merck Manual. Retrieved October 18, 2018 from,-joint,-and-muscle-disorders/gout-and-calcium-pyrophosphate-arthritis/gout.
6. Nevares, A. M. (2018 April). Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE). The Merck Manual: Consumer Version. Retrieved October 18, 2018 from,-joint,-and-muscle-disorders/autoimmune-disorders-of-connective-tissue/systemic-lupus-erythematosus-sle.
7. Steinberg, D. R. (2018 August). Carpal tunnel syndrome. The Merck Manual: Consumer Version. Retrieved October 17, 2018 from,-joint,-and-muscle-disorders/hand-disorders/carpal-tunnel-syndrome.
8. Carpal tunnel syndrome fact sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Retrieved October 18, 2018 from
9. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. American College of Rheumatology. Retrieved October 18, 2018 from
10. Infectious Arthritis. MedlinePlus. Retrieved October 18, 2018 from
11. Shirtliff, M. E. & Mader, J. T. (2002 October). Acute septic arthritis. Clinical Microbiology Reviews, 15, 527-544. Retrieved October 18, 2018 from National Center for Biotechnology Information
12. Omega-3 fatty acids: Fact sheet for consumers. National Institutes of Health. Retrieved October 19, 2018 from
13. Bernstein, S. Benefits of massage. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved October 20, 2018 from