What symptoms of joint pain are causes for concern?

Symptoms of joint pain range from mild to disabling. Without cartilage, bones rub directly against each other as the joint moves. Symptoms can include:

  • Swelling
  • Stiff or enlarged joint
  • Numbness
  • Noisy joints, or clicking, grinding, or snapping sounds when moving the joint
  • Painful movement
  • Difficulty bending or straightening the joint
  • Loss of motion
  • A red and hot and swollen joint (This should be evaluated quickly by a doctor)

When should I see a doctor?

If pain is interfering with normal daily life activities, it is time to talk to a doctor about the problem. It is important to diagnose the cause of the pain quickly and begin treatment to relieve pain and maintain healthy, functioning joints.

You should see a doctor if:

  • Pain is accompanied by a fever
  • There is unexplained weight loss (10 pounds or more)
  • Pain is preventing you from walking normally

During the appointment, the doctor will ask many questions to figure out what may be the cause of the pain. The patient should be ready to answer questions about previous injuries to the joint, when the joint pain began, a family history of joint pain, and the type of pain experienced.

An examination of the affected joint will follow to see if there is pain or limited motion. The doctor will also look for signs of injury to the surrounding muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

If necessary, the doctor may also order X-rays or blood tests. X-rays can show if there is joint deterioration, fluid in the joint, bone spurs, or other issues that may be contributing to the pain. Blood tests will help confirm a diagnosis or rule out other diseases that may be causing the pain.

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