Arthritis isn’t a diagnosis—most people are surprised to find this out. It’s a general term covering over 100 diseases and related conditions. Determining the cause is the first step to treating arthritis and getting the right management plan.
Infrequent or mild joint pain may not require prompt action, but other kinds of arthritis cause permanent damage to the joint, meaning prompt treatment is essential to preserving joint function. There are three important warning signs you should talk to your health care provider about.
Is the skin around the affected joint becoming red and swollen or feeling warm to the touch? Swelling that occurs more than three times a month or swelling that lasts for three days or longer should prompt a visit to your physician.
Many people with arthritis notice stiffness when waking up in the morning or after sitting for a long period of time. Morning stiffness lasting an hour or longer or joint stiffness that impacts your daily life is something that should be discussed with your doctor.
With over 100 conditions associated with arthritis, it should come as no surprise that there’s a vast variety of pain under the umbrella of arthritis. Constant joint pain; joint pain that comes and goes; joint pain while resting; and joint pain while moving could all be signs of arthritis. It could be in one spot or in many different spots. The rule of thumb is this: if the pain is impacting your daily life or is noticeable for more than three days, it’s probably worth discussing with your physician.
It's important to track the symptoms you’re experiencing as they occur. Information pertaining to the length, severity, and location of symptoms will help your doctor pin down the type and extent of the arthritis present. We’ve found that patients find it beneficial to keep a journal in which they record when joint pain occurs, what is swollen and stiff, and what helps ease the symptoms. If there are any other symptoms, such as rashes or fatigue, it’s important to track that as well. If a fever accompanies any of these symptoms, you may need to seek immediate medical attention.
If you’re having arthritic symptoms that cause concern, contact the Mid-Maryland Musculoskeletal Institute. Our rheumatologists are trained to make and treat difficult diagnoses spanning all types of arthritis and joint pain. If arthritis is suspected, they will perform a variety of tests, including a range of motion test for physical pain and lab tests to determine any other underlying factors. For the best results, contact The Mid-Maryland Musculoskeletal Institute today.