What can cause the onset of sudden joint pain?

Updated July 19, 2017

The onset of sudden joint pain can be seen in acute conditions such as fractures or in chronic diseases such as lupus. The pain is usually severe and can affect the shoulders, fingers, elbows, hips, knees and toes.

Traumatic Fractures

Traumatic fractures (acute fractures) are caused by a direct impact to the bone. The direct impact can come from car accidents, falls or sports injuries. The result is not only a broken bone but sudden, severe joint pain in the extremities, as well.


A dislocation is a joint injury in which the ends of the bones are moved from their normal position due to trauma. This type of injury can immobilise the joints, resulting in sudden and severe pain to the shoulder, hips, pelvis, knee, ankle and fingers.


Gout or gouty arthritis is an inflammation of the joints characterised by sudden and severe attacks of pain and tenderness at the base of the big toe. This condition is caused by an accumulation of uric acid crystals that eat away at the cartilage, making the joints feel hot and swollen.


Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disorder. An autoimmune disorder is one in which the body's immune system attacks its own tissues and organs. These attacks come on suddenly and can be characterised with episodes of severe joint pain, stiffness and swelling in the fingers, shoulders, elbows and knees.

Sickle Cell Anemia

Sickle cell anaemia is a chronic heredity condition in which the red blood cells resemble a crescent or sickle shape due to abnormal haemoglobin. Haemoglobin is an oxygen-carrying protein within the red blood cells. The abnormal haemoglobin causes the cells to burst, leading to anaemia. Similar to lupus, sickle cell anaemia is also characterised by sudden attacks of severe pain, swelling, and inflammation of the joints. These episodes can last from a few minutes to several days.

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About the Author

Mindy Schwartz is a freelance writer who regularly contributes to eHow and Answerbag. She has also been a copywriter for more than five years. Her product ad copy has been featured in several trade, online, and local publications, such as GiftWare News,, Woman's World, and The NH Mirror.