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Living with painful joints can be difficult and limiting – so do something about it.
It’s very common to experience minor joint pain from time to time. According to the NHS, 3 in 10 adults experience some joint pain in any given year1. An aching knee, for example, or a sore shoulder. Usually you can just take an anti-inflammatory painkiller such as ibuprofen and wait for it to go away. However, if severe or persistent joint pain is holding you back, it’s time to do something about it.
Do you need to see a doctor?
Although you’re unlikely to need medical attention for every tiny niggle and ache, seeing a doctor
earlier rather than later is a good idea. You should make an appointment with your GP or with a specialist if:
- the pain is severe
- you have had persistent joint pain for more than five days
- the pain is recurrent, i.e. if it keeps coming back
- your joint gives way, catches or locks
- you have a fever or if the joint is hot, red or swollen – as this could indicate that you have an infection which would require urgent medical attention
However, even if your joint pain is mild and it comes and goes it may still be worth seeing a doctor to put your mind at ease. Seeing a doctor sooner rather than later might also mean a condition is picked up early, making it easier to manage or treat. Many conditions begin with mild symptoms, such as osteoarthritis which starts with mild aching which comes and goes. An early diagnosis can help to stop the problem – and therefore the pain – from getting worse or slow down the progression of a condition.
What to expect
Taking the first step to dealing with your joint pain can be as simple as making an appointment to see your GP. If you need to see a specialist, they will refer you to the right person or department.
Your doctor will examine you and ask you a series of questions to determine the likely cause of your joint pain. Ahead of your appointment, make some notes to help you answer in as much detail as possible and avoid leaving anything out. Consider these questions:
- How severe is the pain on a scale of 1-10?
- When did it start?
- Did anything specific happen to cause the pain initially?
- Have you tried anything so far to make the pain go away?
- Does the joint feel as though it’s giving way, catching or locking?
Having answers to these questions ready will make sure your doctor has as much information as possible to diagnose the cause of your joint pain. Your doctor will also ask you about your medical history. Following a consultation, they might refer you to a specialist for another consultation or treatment. They might also recommend some medication or exercises to help you manage your joint pain.
Treating joint pain
Joint pain has many possible causes, but it’s often a result of injury or arthritis. Each case is unique, and a specialist will be able to help you decide on the best course of action to treat the cause of your pain.
Physiotherapy can help you recover from sporting and other injuries. It can also help you strengthen a joint after surgery. Physiotherapy involves an initial consultation followed by an ongoing treatment programme to support you in your recovery.
Orthopaedic surgery – that is, an operation to treat the cause of joint pain – can successfully repair damage to the knees, ankles, shoulders, wrists, hips and spine. Whether your joint pain is caused by injury, arthritis, or another condition, surgery may be the best option to manage it long term.
Find out more
If you are experiencing joint pain or you’re concerned about a recent injury, seeing a doctor is the first step to taking action.
To find out more call us on 0808 101 0337
or make an online enquiry.