When two bones meet painfully it is called joint pain. Other terms for joint pain include arthralgia and arthritis. Mild joint pain can produce a bit of soreness each time you move that joint. But sometimes the pain is so severe it becomes impossible to use that joint.
What are the common symptoms of joint pain?
Soft tissue called cartilage covers the ends of our bones and serves as a shock absorber when two bones meet at a joint. The cartilage helps the joints move smoothly; however, with the normal wear and tear of aging, the cartilage wears down and can adversely affect the underlying bone.
When should I see my doctor for joint pain?
If your joint pain was caused by an injury and a tendon or bone is exposed or if there is bleeding, get emergency medical help immediately. Have someone help you to an emergency room if you’ve had an injury that visibly deforms the joint, makes it impossible for you to use that joint, you see sudden swelling, or feel intense joint pain.
If your joint pain is less severe, but you still see redness and swelling, and feel unusual warmth and tenderness around the affected joint, call your doctor’s office to make an appointment. In the meantime, a non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory, over-the-counter medication will help you reduce the swelling and minimize the pain. Don’t use the affected joint if at all possible as that will only create or intensify your pain. Apply an ice pack for 15 minutes a few times a day to help manage the situation until you see your doctor.
What is the cause of joint pain?
There are many causes of joint pain. These include: broken bones, bone cancer, fibromyalgia, bursitis, gout, Lyme’s disease, lupus, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, pseudogout, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, strains and sprains, rickets rheumatoid arthritis, and tendinitis.
What complications are related to joint pain?
Not all joint pain is considered serious. However, if left untreated complications can develop, including increased pain and joint damage.
How is joint pain diagnosed?
A physical examination and study of your medical history will help your OC pain management doctor accurately diagnose the cause of your joint pain. Take note of your symptoms. Keep track of when they occur and how often. Differentiate between stiff joints, aching, or sharp pain; these details will help your doctor with your diagnosis.
Swelling and redness are clearly visible and x-rays provide evidence of structural damage including fractures and signs of degenerative joint diseases. Computerized tomography (CAT scan) features a combination of x-rays from various different angles to produce images of your joints in cross-sectional views. Ultrasound uses sound waves to generate real-time images of your joints as they move.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) creates 3-D images of your joints which are especially useful in examining soft tissue injuries in your muscles, cartilage, tendon, and ligaments. Lab tests help zero in on possible infections, pseudogout or doubt. With over 100 different types of arthritis, getting the correct diagnosis will enable your doctor to plan the most appropriate treatment.
How is joint pain treated?
Over-the-counter medication can be helpful in minimizing moderate pain and swelling; however large doses have been known to cause liver damage or gastrointestinal bleeding. When over-the-counter medications fail to provide relief, your pain management doctor in OC doctor may prescribe narcotics for a brief period of time. However, possible side effects may include constipation, confusion, nausea, or sedation.
Cortisone injections can suppress inflammation around irritated nerves. HMuscle relaxants may help with muscle spasms, and certain antiepileptic and antidepressant drugs are known to inhibit pain signals. Certain topical medications can be helpful in reducing joint pain. Some contain capsaicin, derived from chili peppers, which blocks the transmission of pain signals and stimulates chemicals in the brain called endorphins, our natural pain blockers.
When topical and oral medications fail to relieve joint pain, your OC pain clinic doctor may recommend steroid injections directly into the joint every few months. These injections are most often used to treat arthritis, inflammation,
and joint disease. Other injections can remove fluid from a painful joint while others add hyaluronan, a man-made substitute for our natural joint fluid.
Your Santa Ana pain management doctor may recommend you working with a physical therapist to stabilize your joint, strengthen the muscles which support the joint, and improve your range of motion. Your physical therapist has a variety of techniques to incorporate into your regimen including cold or heat therapy, ultrasound, manipulation, and electrical nerve stimulation.
Losing weight may be essential to relieving excess pressure on your painful joints. Your doctor will guide you toward low impact exercises to help you lose weight loss without putting additional strain on your painful joints.