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When Should You See a Doctor About Joint Pain?

Source: Mayo Clinic
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Joint pain is incredibly common, but that doesn’t mean that it’s totally normal. While joint pain may be due to overuse, or simply sleeping on a joint wrong, it’s not something you should just write off as getting older. We tend to think that we’ll just get over it, the pain will abate on its own, and that we’ll see a doctor at some point in the future if it gets worse or we can’t live with it any longer. Oftentimes, that’s too late.


Stunningly, up to one in five adults may suffer from chronic pain, and 84% of those adults reported to be taking over the counter pain medications.

So When Should You Make an Appointment?

If your painful joints are also swollen, red, warm to the touch, or very tender to touch, you should make an appointment with your doctor. Seeing your doctor soon after the onset of joint pain can prevent further joint damage from being done. There are many types of diseases that cause joint pain, and though they’re rarely cause for an emergency, speedy diagnosis may be important to future quality of life.

When Should You See a Doctor Immediately?

If you can’t use a joint or it appears to be physically deformed, you should see your healthcare provider immediately. You should also see your doctor post haste if you’re in intense pain or the joint swells suddenly. If your healthcare provider is unavailable, find someone to drive you to an urgent care clinic or the emergency room.

Self-Care Treatment Options

For mild joint pain or before you’re able to get in to see your doctor, you can work to care for your painful joint at home. Start by icing the injured joint for ten to fifteen minutes a few times a day, taking care to make sure your skin is protected from the direct cold. Keep the joint elevated above your heart. Be sure to give painful joints ample rest, and take over the counter pain medications like acetaminophen to reduce pain, or ibuprofen to reduce pain and swelling. Be sure to inform your doctor if you’ve taken these medications, and don’t take them for long periods of time without your doctor’s okay.