Don’t Ignore Joint Pain: Get Screened for Arthritis
It’s a fact of life that the older you get, the more accustomed you become to nagging aches and pains. A popular joke you’ll find on the internet, usually in the form of a meme, is that you know you’re in your late 20s when you start waking up with lower back pain for no reason. We laugh because we can relate. It’s accepted that things are just going to hurt sometimes because you’re not so young anymore and the body wears down. This is true within reason, but there are some misconceptions out there about what’s an acceptable amount.
Let’s use joint pain as an example. At one point or another, everyone can experience some stiffness in their joints. Maybe even the occasional ache or pain if they had a heavy workout or exerted themselves in a way they usually don’t. But, many people chalk up chronic joint pain as just a natural part of getting older. It is not. Chronic pain is rarer and more avoidable than you may think. To take this a step further, many people think arthritis is a natural part of getting older and it happens to everyone. It does not.
Arthritis is not an inevitable, normal condition that comes about just from age. It’s important to speak to your doctor if you notice you are developing continuous joint pain. Arthritis requires active treatment and there are different kinds of arthritis, with some being more potentially dangerous than others. Here is what you need to know about joint pain and why you’ll want to pursue imaging services to make an arthritis diagnosis.
Is joint pain always arthritis?
If you’re experiencing joint pain right now, is it definitely arthritis? The short answer is: no. Not all joint pain is automatically arthritis. That’s why it’s important to get it checked out. Arthritis pain tends to be rather distinctive in comparison to how your ankles might feel after running a half-marathon or the pain you might feel after sleeping in an awkward position. While it’s not good practice to try and self-diagnose because only a medical professional and imaging services can tell you exactly what’s going on in your body, there are telltale signs to keep an eye out for. For example, symmetrical pain (both of your wrists or elbows hurting, for example) is often a sign of rheumatoid arthritis. The type of pain itself can also be telling. Words like dull, burning, or grinding may come to mind. If you’re experiencing these kinds of symptoms, you need to ask your doctor about them.
What are the different kinds of arthritis?
There are over 100 types of arthritis related conditions, though to list them all would be excessive. Most people would be covered by a couple main types.
The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis. This is what one generally associates with the umbrella term of arthritis. It’s characterized as joint pain that has occurred over the course of years of wear and tear. That’s why it’s assumed it’s just a natural part of getting old. Injuries, repetitive motions, and lifestyle factors like weight can all play a role in developing osteoarthritis. While it can be very painful, especially if the joint has been so worn down that you’re bone on bone, it’s not life threatening. That is, unlike the next type.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a serious condition that requires early intervention care in order to maintain quality of life. Unlike osteoarthritis, this is not wear and tear. This is actually an autoimmune illness where the body attacks its own joints. This can lead to health complications including cardiovascular conditions and even organ failure. That’s why getting an early diagnosis of your joint pain is so crucial.
Then there are conditions like gout, lupus, and several others which fall under the umbrella of arthritis, though many may not think of them that way.
How is arthritis treated?
Once you’ve received your diagnosis, treatment will begin. Treatment is different for everyone depending on the progression of the condition and the type. Pain medication both over the counter and prescription can help. Topical ointments may be used to block pain. If the pain and damage are severe enough, surgery may be recommended. Your doctor will go over all of the treatment options with you after properly evaluating your condition.
If you just accept your joint pain as a normal fact of life, you could be doing yourself a real disservice. You may be presenting the early symptoms of arthritis. With the right care and early intervention, you could improve the quality of your life. Remember that arthritis is degenerative, so the longer you let it go, the worse your symptoms will be. Contact us today to schedule an appointment. The team at First Choice Medical Group is here to provide you with the answers and the care you need so you can live a life free of debilitating pain.