There are eight types of herpes simplex, and each can cause joint pain. These include HSV-1 (cold sores) and HSV-2 (genital), chicken pox and shingles, Epstein-Barr virus, cytomegalovirus, roseola (a type of measles), and HSV-8 (which causes skin cancer).
When a person is first infected with herpes, the virus travels to nerves located in the base of the spine. There are no symptoms such as joint pain during the initial latent stage.
The first outbreak of herpes is usually the most severe. For some people, this can include joint pain, blisters and flu-like symptoms such as swollen and tender lymph nodes, fever and headache.
Some types of herpes involve recurrences. These episodes are typically less severe than the initial one and it is less common for joint pain to be involved.
Shingles is a particularly painful form of herpes and is related to chicken pox, according to the National Institutes of Health. Symptoms usually involve the outbreak being localized to one side of the body as well as joint pain, abdominal pain, fever and chills, vision difficulties, and muscular difficulties.
Joint pain from herpes usually lasts about 10 days to three weeks. Because herpes is a virus, symptomatic pain relief is recommended until the virus clears on its own. Antivirals, antihistamines, pain medications and capsaicin cream have been found to be helpful.