Joint pain – when to see a doctor

Radio silence.  I am embarrassed to explain why I have been out of YesFive commission.   I am quite sure you were on the edge of your seat awaiting the next entry on joint pain and therefore, deserve an explanation.  I would love to say that I was feeding the homeless or building shelters in Japan.  The sad truth is that I was planning a party.  Fairly pathetic, I realize.  Every day when I sat down to write, I ended up checking weather.com instead.  That little gray rain cloud just wouldn’t go away no matter how many times I clicked on weekend forecast and screamed at the screen. The anxiety that followed prevented me from thinking clearly enough to organize any thoughts not party or tent-rental related.  You can imagine why I couldn’t think clearly yesterday if you have read any of YesFive.  I am an old lady but still love to get my groove on.  The post-party fog has finally lifted.  Luckily the weather didn’t ruin the party but don’t let that stop me from complaining.  Here in the Northeast, we had an Alaskan winter and we are now puddling through a Seattle spring.  This type of damp air can be awful for people who suffer with certain types of joint pain like osteoarthritis which, if you can remember that far back, is the last topic we covered.  Joint pain can be a sign of something benign and temporary or it can be a symptom of a more serious condition.

When should you see a doctor?

1.  Go immediately to an emergency room or call 911 if you sustain an injury to a joint that results in exposed tendon and bone.

2.  If you experience sudden intense pain and swelling, sudden joint deformity or a drastic reduction in range of motion, go to an ER or urgent care center as soon as you are able.

3.  If you have chronic joint pain, accompanied by swelling, redness or warmth, make an appointment to see your doctor.

4.  If you have joint pain accompanied by rashes, fatigue, abdominal pain, swollen lymph nodes or muscle pain, you may have a more serious autoimmune, tick-borne or viral illness.

5.  If your child has joint pain accompanied by fever, weight loss and rash, call your pediatrician.

The above may seem obvious to a lot of people but this depends on someone’s overall attitude toward illness.  My mother’s response to a complaint of pain was always, “It will be fine.  Everybody gets little aches now and then.”  This has served me well as I tend not to dwell on my own or my children’s minor discomforts.  Everybody does get an occasional twinge or pang.  If an appointment was made for each of these minor pains, the health care system would be crippled and doctors would have to be institutionalized.  There are times, though, that it is important to err on the side of caution.  If your joint pain persists or has any of the above characteristics, get a medical evaluation.  Like my “light at the end of the tunnel glass of wine” at the end of the night, you may also need your joints to hold it all together.  Tomorrow, what else might be wrong.  Warning:  if you are a hypochondriac, avoid tomorrow’s entry.

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