Whether you have a chronic ache in your knee or hip, a stiff shoulder, a problem with your hand or elbow, or a deformity in one of your joints, you need to see a joint doctor.
The right joint doctor will treat your symptoms and give you a plan of care to help you get better. It’s important to find a specialist that you trust and work with.
Identifying the Cause
Damage to your joints can cause pain, hamper movement and keep you from doing the things you enjoy.
Joints connect bone, cartilage, ligaments, tendons and bursae (fluid-filled sacs) to allow your bones to move together. These structures may become irritated or inflamed in response to a variety of mild to serious diseases, disorders and conditions.
Some are simple overuse injuries that can be treated at home with RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation). Other problems require more immediate treatment.
Your health care provider will review your medical history and do a physical exam. They may also order blood tests and imaging, such as x-rays, to help pinpoint the source of your pain.
Depending on the cause, you may be prescribed medication, physical therapy or alternative treatments, including yoga and acupuncture. In some cases, surgery is needed to treat the underlying problem. But many other issues can be managed with over-the-counter medications, exercise and lifestyle changes.
Diagnosing the Symptoms
When you experience joint pain, the first thing you should do is go to a doctor. This is so they can determine the cause of the pain and start treatment right away to alleviate it and maintain your joint health.
Joint pain is a common problem and can affect many different joints in the body. The most common type of joint pain is osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis is a condition that causes the cartilage to wear down over time. It can also lead to damage of the underlying bones.
The most common symptoms of arthritis are pain, stiffness, and swelling. The pain is usually worse when you move the affected joint, or during activity and after resting.
X-rays, blood tests and laboratory tests of fluid removed from the joints can help diagnose the disease. These tests can help identify the specific type of arthritis and other health problems that may be causing the inflammation.
Treating the Symptoms
If you have joint doctor problems, you should talk to your doctor about treatment options. You may need anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce pain and swelling, or a medication to treat the cause of the problem.
You may also need physical therapy to restore your strength and mobility. Try gentle stretching exercises, or walking, swimming, or other low-impact aerobic exercise.
The pain and swelling you feel in your joints can be caused by overuse injuries, arthritis or infections. These injuries are a result of moving your joints too much for long periods of time, such as after playing sports or working out with weights.
If you have a bacterial infection, your doctor may recommend antibiotics or other medications to treat the infection. Tuberculosis, a serious lung disease, can also damage the bones around your joints and spread to them. In some cases, a fungal infection called coccidioidomycosis can also affect your joints. Other infectious diseases can cause joint inflammation, including gonorrhea and streptococcal bacterial infections.
Preparing for Surgery
Preparing for surgery can be a very difficult thing to do, but your joint doctor can help you prepare in many ways. He or she will work with you to schedule your surgery and make sure you have everything prepared to get you through the operation and recovery process.
The first step is to complete your preoperative medical evaluation. This will help your surgeon and his or her team determine if you are a candidate for joint replacement surgery.
During this appointment, your surgeon will review your medical history and other health issues you have that may impact your surgery. In addition, you will receive a comprehensive physical exam.
You may also be asked to obtain additional imaging in preparation for your surgery, such as X-rays with sizing markers or a specialized MRI.
Taking care of yourself before surgery will lower your risk for complications, such as blood clots and bleeding. In addition, losing weight before your surgery can reduce stress on your new joint and promote the best possible healing outcome.