Arthritis Basics- When to See the Doc?


The fear and apprehension sets in, when we start getting those recurrent joint pains. We  are unable to relate the pain to any recent injury and wonder whether we should visit the doc or will the discomfort go away on its own.


Well, arthritis is a condition associated with many myths and misconceptions and the onset of the disease may often be quite confusing. Arthritis refers to joint inflammation and is in fact not a single disease but a group of conditions which lead to stiffness, swelling and pain in the joints.It can begin with the well-defined symptoms of arthritis (redness, swelling, stiffness, and pain in one or more joints) or can appear to be more subtle, allowing even more vague symptoms and clouded diagnosis.

Tell Tale Arthritis Signs

Although there are many types of arthritis, the following signs point towards Arthritis-

  • Joint stiffness
  • Tenderness in and around the joint
  • Limited range of motion in one or more joints
  • Redness and warmth around the affected joint

If you have the listed symptoms and do not remember injuring yourself, then go and meet the physician. The doctor will review the history of symptoms, examine the joints for inflammation and deformity, as well as even examine other parts of the body for inflammation. Furthermore, certain blood, urine, joint fluid, and/or X-ray tests might also be ordered.

What to Expect 

The following questions may be asked to help identify the cause of your joint pain-

  • Which joint hurts? Is the pain on one side or both sides?
  • How long have you been having this pain? Have you had it before?
  • Did this pain begin suddenly and severely, or slowly and mildly?
  • Is the pain constant or does it come and go? Has the pain become more severe?
  • What started your pain?
  • Have you injured your joint?
  • Have you had an illness or fever?
  • Does resting the joint reduce the pain or make it worse?
  • Does moving the joint reduce the pain or make it worse?
  • Are certain positions comfortable? Does keeping the joint elevated help?
  • Do medications, massage, or applying heat reduce the pain?
  • What other symptoms do you have?
  • Is there any numbness?
  • Can you bend and straighten the joint? Does the joint feel stiff?
  • Are your joints stiff in the morning? If so, how long does the stiffness last?
  • What makes the stiffness better?

X rays and MRI s may be ordered to help the diagnosis and based on the cumulative results of physical examination, X ray reports and medical history analysis, if you or your relative have actually been diagnosed with arthritis, then Read the next article in the series ‘ Diet Tips to Relieve Arthritic Pain’.

By Panchali Moitra


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