When to See a Doctor About Joint Pain
Joint pain is a common physical ailment. It can develop from overuse or simply sleeping in an awkward position; however, it can also be caused by an underlying medical condition.
When to make an appointment
Although joint pain rarely requires a visit to the emergency room, a proper diagnosis is important to future quality of life. Various health conditions can cause joint pain. If painful joints are swollen, red, warm or tender to the touch, a health care provider should be consulted. Seeing a doctor soon after the onset of joint pain can prevent further joint damage.
When to seek immediate medical care
If a joint causes intense pain, suddenly swells, becomes immobile, or appears to be physically deformed, a health care provider should be seen immediately.
Self-care treatment options
For mild joint pain, self-care may help. Icing the injured joint for 15 to 20 minutes a few times a day, taking care to make sure the skin is protected from the direct cold, can help reduce inflammation. Alternating heat therapy with cold therapy is also helpful and can be started 48 hours after an injury. Applying a heating pad or taking a warm bath or shower can relax the muscles and increase circulation. Resting the joint and taking over-the-counter pain medication, such as ibuprofen or naproxen sodium, can help reduce pain and swelling. It is important to consult a doctor before taking any medication on a regular basis as continued use can cause other health issues.