Recurring joint pain can limit an individual’s physical activity and reduce quality of life when symptoms are not managed effectively. Whether these symptoms are mildly irritating or debilitating, joint pain that doesn’t go away or keeps coming back can put a serious strain on one’s health.1 There are serious implications of recurring joint pain, especially when undiagnosed. This is why seeking timely medical treatment is so important when joint pain persists with no relief.
Dangers of Prolonging Treatment
Waiting to treat joint pain can be very damaging to the body in the long-term. Many people do not realize that they have a joint condition like osteoarthritis until they fall and break a bone.2 With knowledge of one’s condition and proper diagnosis, individuals with joint pain can effectively manage their symptoms and take extra precautions to remain safe.
When joint pain persists for an extended period of time, other complications may arise as well. Many people who suffer from long-term joint pain develop depression due to feelings of hopelessness about their conditions.3 Limited mobility can cause weight gain and create excess stress on other parts of the body that aren’t experiencing pain yet.4
People who have untreated rheumatoid arthritis are also at a higher risk of infection since this condition is an autoimmune disease.5,6 Additionally, untreated joint pain can lead to a hunched posture and spine fractures that result in a loss of body height. All of these factors can contribute to an increased number of hospital stays and long-term nursing home care.
When to See a Doctor
Since feelings of pain are highly relative and personal, it can be difficult to know what type of pain is serious enough to warrant a doctor visit. If joint pain is accompanied by tenderness, warmth, swelling, or redness around the joint, it is time to make an appointment.1,2,5 These are early warning signs that require medical attention to prevent further damage and prolonged pain.
Immediate attention is required if joint pain is accompanied by a deformity of the joint or if the joint cannot be used.6,7 Very intense pain and sudden swelling also indicate that it’s time to see a doctor. Pain that persists more than two weeks, unexplained pain, and pain that does not subside with over-the-counter medications like JointFlex require a doctor visit as well. The cause of some types of joint pain can be diagnosed without any tests; however, a blood test or x-ray may be required to confirm the diagnosis.6
Arthritis Management with Age
The earlier that one begins prevention, management, and treatment for arthritis, the better chance of reducing joint pain over time. In general, arthritis becomes more difficult to treat and manage with age.
This is because osteoporosis and arthritis conditions become more likely and widespread in older adults.9 Bones become more brittle and joints become weaker over time, which makes these parts more likely to fracture. Some treatment options like surgery may not be viable options during old age due to high risks involved. Physical therapy may be more difficult and painful if joint pain is ignored until old age, and certain medications may not be advisable because of possible interactions with other prescriptions being taken. At the first signs of recurring joint pain, see a doctor to assess your condition and begin treatment for a long and healthy life.
REFERENCES FOR RECURRING JOINT PAIN AND SEEKING TREATMENT
1. Understanding chronic pain. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved November 10, 2018 from https://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/pain-management/chronic-pain/understand-chronic-pain.php.
2. Chu, C. R., Williams, A. A., Coyle, C. H., & Bowers, M. E. (2012 June). Arthritis Research & Therapy, 14, 212. Retrieved November 10, 2018 from BioMed Central https://arthritis-research.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/ar3845.
3. The arthritis-depression connection. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved November 10, 2018 from https://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/comorbidities/depression-and-arthritis/depression-rheumatoid-arthritis.php.
4. Exercising with osteoarthritis. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved November 10, 2018 from https://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/exercise/benefits/osteoarthritis-exercise.php.
5. Rheumatoid arthritis. Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center. Retrieved November 10, 2018 from https://www.hopkinsarthritis.org/arthritis-info/rheumatoid-arthritis/.
6. Rodriguez, D. (2017 October 23). The risks of untreated rheumatoid arthritis. Everyday Health. Retrieved November 10, 2018 from https://www.everydayhealth.com/hs/rheumatoid-arthritis-treatment-management/untreated-ra-risks/.
7. Kontzias, A. (2017 July). Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The Merck Manual: Consumer Version. Retrieved November 10, 2018 from https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/bone,-joint,-and-muscle-disorders/joint-disorders/rheumatoid-arthritis-ra.
8. When to make an appointment with your doctor. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved November 10, 2018 from https://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/understanding-arthritis/when-to-see-a-doctor-about-arthritis.php.
9. Osteoporosis. MedlinePlus. Retrieved November 10, 2018 from https://medlineplus.gov/osteoporosis.html.
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