When Should I See My Doctor
Joints get sore and swollen for many reasons. It could be due to an injury, overuse, or doing a new type of physical activity.
See your doctor if you have pain and stiffness that starts with no clear reason, lasts for more than a few days, and also causes swelling, redness and warmth. It is important to start treatment as soon as possible to prevent the condition from getting worse and causing long-term damage.
Should I See A Doctor
Its common to have aches and pains in your muscles and joints from time to time. This may especially be true if you take part in unusual or strenuous physical activities.
So, how can you tell the difference between the early signs of arthritis and normal pain and stiffness? And, how do you know when you should see a doctor about your symptoms?
If you have swelling or stiffness that you cant explain and that doesn’t go away in a few days, or if it becomes painful to touch your joints, you should see a doctor. The earlier you get a diagnosis and start the right type of treatment, the better the outcome will be.
Here are some other things to think about that might help you decide whether you need to see a doctor:
What Happens While Conducting An X
All the X-Ray tests are the part of a radiology department. The beam will be sent by an X-Ray machine for ionizing radiation via an X-Ray tube. The energy produced by the machine will pass through the body part that is being X-rayed.
After the energy is passed through the body part, the part of the body is captured on a digital camera or a film for the creation of a picture. The bones along with various other dense areas will be showed up as lighter shades of grey to white. There are some areas, which do not absorb the radiation. These areas will appear as dark grey to black color.
The X-Ray will not take much time. The entire test will be completed within 15 minutes, and there will be no discomfort during the test.
Spinal Arthritis: What You Need To Know
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis to affect the spine.
Arthritis can occur anywhere along the spine, but is more frequent in the lower back and neck.
Pain and stiffness are the most common symptoms of spinal arthritis.
Causes of spinal arthritis are still largely unknown except for osteoarthritis, which is typically a result of wear and tear.
Spinal arthritis treatment may include pain medications, steroid injections, physical therapy and surgery in severe cases.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Of The Spine
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder, meaning that the immune system turns on itself. It attacks synovium the lining of the joints. Although rheumatoid arthritis is more common in other joints, it can also affect the spine, specifically the cervical region . Rheumatoid arthritis of the spine is not caused by wear and tear, so its considered an inflammatory arthritis. It may cause back pain even when these joints are not in use. It tends to affect women more than men.
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Stop Withholding Info From Your Healthcare Provider
It’s tempting not to tell your healthcare provider everything, especially if you’re afraid you’ll have to go through unpleasant testing or have to change the treatment regimen you’re comfortable with.
But in order for your healthcare provider to have the best chance of helping you, he needs to know everything. Talk openly about what makes your condition better or worse, what concerns you have, and what you don’t understand.
When You Know You Have The Right Match
Traci Lynn Martin, a neonatal ICU nurse and expedition kayaker from Lees Summit, Missouri, found out she had rheumatoid arthritis, she went to a few rheumatologists before she found the right chemistry.
The first person I saw I didnt like, Martin says, because I didnt feel like he was listening to me. He had a formula with questions and it wasnt personalized. It was important for me to stay active, to be able to do my triathlons, and long distance kayaking that I had done my whole life.
Friends referred her to other specialists, but she knew right away when she found the right rheumatologist. He sits down and doesnt rush in and out and doesnt leave the room until I am happy, Martin says. I walked out of there so happy after the first visit, I felt like I had someone who was listening to me for the first time since my diagnosis.
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How Is Arthritis Diagnosed And Evaluated
When diagnosing arthritis, your doctor will likely do a complete physical examination of your entire body, including your spine, joints, skin and eyes. You may undergo blood tests to detect markers of inflammation. In cases where an infection or gout is suspected, it may be useful to draw some fluid from a joint with a needle in order to analyze the contents of the material. In addition, your physician may order one or more of the following imaging tests:
What Are The Parts Of A Joint
Joints get cushioned and supported by soft tissues that prevent your bones from rubbing against each other. A connective tissue called articular cartilage plays a key role. It helps your joints move smoothly without friction or pain.
Some joints have a synovial membrane, a padded pocket of fluid that lubricates the joints. Many joints, such as your knees, get supported by tendons and ligaments. Tendons connect muscles to your bones, while ligaments connect bones to other bones.
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Can I Claim Benefits If I Have Arthritis
There are a number of benefits and grants you may be able to claim if you have arthritis.
Benefits for mobility problems
If you’re over State Pension age and you need help with your personal care, such as washing, dressing and going to the toilet, because of your symptoms of arthritis, you may be able to claim Attendance Allowance.
Disabled Facilities Grants
You may be eligible for financial support for home adaptations to help you manage better. This could include installing ramps and handrails, and getting specialist equipment to help you in the kitchen or bathroom.
If you have a friend or family member who looks after you for at least 35 hours a week, they may be able to claim Carers Allowance.
Physical Activity For Arthritis
If you have arthritis, participating in joint-friendly physical activity can improve your arthritis pain, function, mood, and quality of life. Joint-friendly physical activities are low-impact, which means they put less stress on the body, reducing the risk of injury. Examples of joint-friendly activities include walking, biking and swimming. Being physically active can also delay the onset of arthritis-related disability and help people with arthritis manage other chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
Learn how you can increase your physical activity safely.
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Stay as active as your health allows, and change your activity level depending on your arthritis symptoms. Some physical activity is better than none.
For substantial health benefits, adults with arthritis should follow the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommendations for Active Adult or Active Older Adult, whichever meets your personal health goals and matches your age and abilities. Learn more at the Physical Activity GuidelinesExternal website.
Learn how you can safely exercise and enjoy the benefits of increased physical activity with these S.M.A.R.T. tips.
- Start low, go slow.
- Modify activity when arthritis symptoms increase, try to stay active.
- Activities should be joint friendly.
- Recognize safe places and ways to be active.
- Talk to a health professional or certified exercise specialist.
Start low, and go slow
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How Can You Treat Arthritis Pain
Arthritis treatment depends on the type of arthritis you have. So, the first step is to get an accurate diagnosis. Your age when you first develop arthritis and the joints involved can help diagnose the type of arthritis you have. X-rays and blood tests can also help. Its possible to have both inflammatory arthritis and noninflammatory arthritis.
If you have osteoarthritis, medications like ibuprofen, naproxen and acetaminophen can help reduce pain. Treatment for inflammatory or autoimmune arthritis includes steroids, disease-modifying antirheumatic agents and biologic medications that can decrease inflammation.
Eating a healthy diet can help decrease pain and inflammation. And maintaining a healthy weight is essential since excess body weight can make a big difference in the pain you feel in weight-bearing joints like the hips, knees and spine.
Assessing Your Physical Ability
If you have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, your specialist will do an assessment to see how well you’re coping with everyday tasks.
You may be asked to fill in a questionnaire on how well you can do things like dress, walk and eat, and how good your grip strength is.
This assessment may be repeated after your treatment, to see if you have made any improvements.
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Whats The Outlook For Someone Living With Arthritis
Since theres no cure for arthritis, most people need to manage arthritis for the rest of their lives. Your healthcare provider can help you find the right combination of treatments to reduce symptoms. One of the biggest health risks associated with arthritis is inactivity. If you become sedentary from joint pain, you may face a greater risk for cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other serious conditions.
Knowing If You Have Arthritis Of The Knee
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Stop Avoiding Mobility Aids
A cane, walker, or wheelchair may be necessary for some people with arthritis to stay independent and get around on their own. Understandably it can be tough to think about needing some sort of mobility aid, but if you do need one and don’t use it you risk missing out on things you would enjoy.
A cane or wheelchair doesn’t define who you are, and no one will judge you or think less of you for using one. In fact, you’ll probably be admired for getting out there and having fun in spite of needing a little help.
What Does An Orthopedist Do
Orthopedists handle the disorders, injuries, prevention, treatment, and repair of the skeletal system and its related joints, ligaments, and muscles.
Orthopedists and orthopedic surgeons are specially trained in the diagnosis and treatment of bone and joint disease. They use an array of testing modalities to aid in diagnosis and treatment.
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Arthritis Treatment: Occupational Therapy
Protecting your joints is an important part of arthritis treatment. With the help of an occupational therapist, you can learn easier ways to do your normal activities. An occupational therapist can teach you how to:
- Avoid positions that strain your joints
- Use your strongest joints and muscles while sparing weaker ones
- Provide braces or supports to protect certain joints
- Use grab bars in the bath
- Use modified doorknobs, canes, or walkers
- Use devices to help you with tasks such as opening jars or pulling up socks and zippers
Other Possible Causes Of Hand Pain
Hand pain is also a sign of Dupuytrens contracture, a condition in which the tissue of the palm and fingers becomes thickened and tight, causing the fingers to curl inward. Its not clear why Dupuytrens contracture develops, though those who smoke, drink a lot of alcohol, and have seizures or diabetes are more vulnerable to developing it.
Your doctor will also consider whether your hand pain could be due to carpal tunnel syndrome, says Dr. Byram. RA can be a cause of carpal tunnel syndrome, so if we see someone who has carpal tunnel, well want to make sure they dont have RA. Carpal tunnel is a condition that occurs when one of the major nerves to the hand the median nerve is squeezed or compressed as it travels through the wrist, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
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How Is Arthritis Treated
The goal of treatment is to provide pain relief, increase joint mobility and strength, and control the disease as much as possible. Your doctor has a number of options to help you manage pain, prevent damage to the joint, and keep inflammation at bay.
Treatment of arthritis could include rest, occupational or physical therapy, hot or cold compresses, joint protection, exercise, drugs, and sometimes surgery to correct joint damage. Your treatment plan may involve more than one of these.
Treatments for osteoarthritis generally can help relieve pain and stiffness, but the disease may continue to get worse. The same was true for rheumatoid arthritis in the past, but treatments are now able to slow or stop the progression of arthritis damage.
Will I Need Surgery For Arthritis
Healthcare providers usually only recommend surgery for certain severe cases of arthritis. These are cases that havent improved with conservative treatments. Surgical options include:
- Fusion: Two or more bones are permanently fused together. Fusion immobilizes a joint and reduces pain caused by movement.
- Joint replacement: A damaged, arthritic joint gets replaced with an artificial joint. Joint replacement preserves joint function and movement. Examples include ankle replacement, hip replacement, knee replacement and shoulder replacement.
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Stop Fearing Medications That May Help
Arthritis patients sometimes avoid painkillers because they’re afraid they’ll become addicted to them, or they choose not to use biologic drugs because they fear potential serious side effects. Remember that your healthcare provider would never prescribe something that might hurt you or that you could become dependent on as long as you take it as directed.
Make sure you understand when and how much of your medication you should take, and how you should take it and your arthritis meds should do nothing more than make it easier for you to live comfortably.
What Can I Do To Make Living With Arthritis Easier
Changing your routine can make living with arthritis easier. Adjust your activities to lessen joint pain. It may help to work with an occupational therapist . An OT is a healthcare provider who specializes in managing physical challenges like arthritis.
An OT may recommend:
- Adaptive equipment, such as grips for opening jars.
- Techniques for doing hobbies, sports or other activities safely.
- Tips for reducing joint pain during arthritic flare-ups.
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Get A Professional Diagnosis
Although these symptoms are all present with arthritis, they dont definitively diagnose you. Only a trained medical professional like Dr. Kimes can do that. He uses X-rays and CT scans to either pinpoint your arthritis or rule it out.
If you dont have arthritis, he gets to the bottom of your pain and other symptoms so he can identify and treat the underlying cause.
These Doctors May Be Your Doctor For Life
Some specialists consult on your diagnosis and treatment plan, then send you back to your primary care doctor for most follow-up care. Not true for rheumatologists.
After making sure we have the right diagnosis, we obtain the appropriate lab work to make sure youre safe starting medication, and then see you every two to three months. Some people require less frequent follow-up, but we typically see patients more than their primary care doctors. In fact, we might become their primary care doctors, says rheumatologist Liana Fraenkel, MD, MPH, adjunct professor of medicine at the Yale University School of Medicine.
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