Understanding Joint Pain: Its Symptoms, Treatments, and Goals

joint pain

Joint pain can be felt in different parts of the body. It can be caused by several factors, including injuries, age, weight, too much physical exertion, and certain types of medical conditions. Most common causes include gout, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, bursitis, tendonitis, injuries, and viral infections.

In rare instances, joint pain can be caused by cartilage tear, bone tumor, and synovial sarcoma. Joint pains are commonly felt in the hands, knees, spine, hips, and feet. At times, the joint pain can be constant, while at other times, it can come and go.

Discovering Symptoms

There are several signs and symptoms associated with joint pain. A person suffering from such a condition may experience a reduced range of motion of the joint. Joint weakness and stiffness may also be a common occurrence.

Swelling, enlarged joints, difficulty bending or straightening the joint, and numbness are also very common signs. Noisy, snapping, clicking, or grinding sounds may also occur. Joint pains can cause difficulty in walking. They may even cause a person to limp. Oftentimes, limping can be caused by sprains, strains, and fractures. It may also be caused by pain due to arthritis.

Applying Treatment

Treatment for joint pains can vary depending on the reason behind them. Some joint pains may not require the need to visit a physician, and they may be treated with over-the-counter medications.

But if the pain becomes unmanageable, seeing a doctor is recommended. Doctors who can help with diagnosing and treating joint pain include orthopedists, rheumatologists, and chiropractic experts. Orthopedists specialize in the care of joints, tendons, muscles, bones, ligaments, and the entire skeletal system. Rheumatologists specialize in the treatment of arthritis, systemic immune diseases, and musculoskeletal conditions. Chiropractors, on the other hand, specialize in treating certain conditions that involve the body’s structure. Unlike orthopedists and rheumatologists, chiropractors do not perform surgery, nor do they prescribe medications. Their primary goal is to relieve the patient’s pain and improve the body’s function.

But when should you see a doctor? Is it always necessary to see a doctor when you feel a surge of pain in your joints? Typically, you should already schedule a doctor’s visit when the pain has become extremely unbearable and when it no longer responds to over-the-counter drugs. You should also see a doctor when the pain is accompanied by fever. Additionally, you should see a doctor when you have difficulty walking or experiencing unexplained weight loss of around 10 pounds or more.

joint pain

Typically, the doctor will perform several examinations to diagnose the problem correctly. The doctor may ask several questions to figure out the cause of the problem. Information, such as the type of pain experienced, when the pain started, family history related to joint pain, and possible injuries to the joint that may have happened previously, may also be asked. Certain types of medical examinations, such as blood tests and X-rays, may also be performed.

Once the doctor has come up with a diagnosis, proper treatment may take place. Below are some of the most common types of treatment used to relieve joint pains.

  • Physical therapy
  • Topical medication
  • Injections
  • Surgery
  • At-home treatments

Understanding the Goal

The goal of physical therapy is to strengthen the muscles surrounding the joints. It also focuses on stabilizing, thereby improving the patient’s range of motion. Standard physical therapy techniques used include manipulation, electrical nerve stimulation, heat or cold therapy, and ultrasound.

Topical medications include topical agents, such as those with methyl salicylate or capsaicin as their primary ingredient. Capsaicin triggers the release of endorphins in the body, blocking pain in the process.

When topical medications are not enough to relieve the pain, doctors may use steroid injections. This form of treatment is usually used on patients that are suffering from tendinitis or arthritis.

The most invasive form of joint pain treatment is surgery. This is done as a last resort when the pain does not go away with other types of medications and when the damage to the joint is critical.

Sometimes, at-home care may be done to patients suffering from joint pains. This is done for joint pains caused by injuries that have just happened or pain caused by sprains, strains, and other minor injuries. At-home care includes the PRICE method, which stands for protection, rest, ice, compression, and elevation.

If you are suffering from joint pain, it is critical to know the causes. Doing so can help address the problem. When the pain is unbearable, always remember to see the right doctor instead of treating the pain by yourself at home.

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