When to See a Doctor for Orthopaedic Pain

November 22nd, 2021

Aches and pains may become a prevalent part of your daily life as you get older, but it doesn’t always mean it’s normal. Athletes may also shake off injuries that they attribute to typical training aches and pains when they require attention. The truth is it can be difficult to know for sure if you’re okay or if you’re in need of a doctor. 

Athletes or those who suffer from chronic injuries may be more familiar with when an injury is worthy of a visit to an orthopaedic doctor, or if your family practice will suffice. An orthopaedic doctor specializes in the health of your bones and joints, and the doctor you are used to visiting for a cold may not be as qualified to diagnose your condition. 

The primary care physician is likely your first stop, but if you want to bypass that step and save yourself a copay, there are some signs that signal a trip to the orthopaedic doctor will be necessary. 

Persistent Soft Tissue Injury 

A soft tissue injury, such as a sprained ankle, twisted knee or sore wrist should be treated immediately using the RICE method - rest, ice, compression and elevation. If after 48 hours, pain persists and swelling is still visible, set up an appointment with an orthopaedic doctor. 

Chronic Joint Pain

Consistent pain in the joints or bones, specifically the neck, back, elbows or knees, can mean a serious orthopaedic issue. You may be suffering from osteoarthritis or an inflammatory disorder. An orthopaedic doctor will be able to understand your symptoms and provide an accurate diagnosis so you can be on your way to relief. 

Decreased Range of Motion

Your joints allow you to move your limbs freely and with ease, so when these motions become difficult, it’s a sign something is wrong. Decreased range of motion can signify arthritis, another joint disease or a joint injury. If it continues to persist, it’s likely it won’t go away on its own and you’ll need to see a doctor. Left untreated, this type of injury can get worse or cause other issues. 

Everyday Tasks Are Affected 

Common run-of-the-mill joint pain can be normal, but not so normal that it’s affecting your daily tasks. Regular activities such as walking short distances, climbing stairs, getting in and out of bed, brushing your teeth - these should all be done without any pain. The same lingering pain sticking around while you perform a certain task can mean a more serious injury than you may have thought. 

Tingling in Hands or Fingers 

A numbness in your hands or your thumb, pointer or middle fingers, or a tingling sensation, can mean you’re dealing with carpal tunnel syndrome. Dropping things often can also be a telling sign. Carpal tunnel syndrome affects the nerve that runs through your wrist to your forearm and allows your four fingers to feel, except for your pinky. There are many factors that can result in this condition, but mostly include flexing the wrist repeatedly over longer periods of time.

Your Orthopaedic Doctor Visit

You’ll discuss your pain and discomfort with your orthopaedic doctor and they will proceed to examine whatever is ailing you. They will be looking at your range of motion, strength and that everything is functioning normally. If more information is needed, the doctor may order more tests to further diagnose your condition or injury, like an x-ray or MRI.

After your doctor has learned more about your injury or condition, and has evaluated the findings of any tests, they will work with you to determine the best course of action when it comes to a treatment program. Often, you'll be able to treat your injury with nonoperative methods such as rest, medication, injections or a physical therapy and rehabilitation program. Your doctor will work with you to optimize your strength and flexibility, and put together a program that may combine several treatment methods to have you feeling back to normal.

Orthopaedic Care in Urgent Care Centers Walk-In Clinics

When you’re dealing with pain, you may not find it severe enough to visit the emergency room, but relief still can’t come soon enough. Rothman Orthopaedics Center City Walk-In Clinic offers medical care specifically for patients ages 16 years and older with non-life threatening orthopaedic injuries. Unlike emergency rooms or urgent cares that treat a broad range of urgent health problems, Rothman Orthopaedics walk-in clinic will focus on treating acute orthopaedic issues including sprains, strains, fractures and tears.

Visit the Rothman Orthopaedics Center City Walk-In Clinic at 925 Chestnut Street, 5th Floor for immediate treatment, or make an appointment with a Rothman physician here.

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