All of the joints in your body may move freely thanks to cartilage, which is composed of the slick, highly lubricated ends that come into touch as you move your fingers, hips, knees, shoulders, and other joints. Over time, cartilage can deteriorate as a result of exercise, accidents, work, and everyday use. When this happens, cell-signaling molecules are released, which eventually causes pain and inflammation.
According to Richard Diana, M.D., an orthopaedic surgeon and clinical instructor of orthopaedics at Yale-New Haven Hospital in Connecticut, while this inflammation is a sign of significant cartilage wear, your cartilage may have been thinning for years before you start to feel the actual pain of bone meeting bone. There are more than 100 different types of arthritis, so you shouldn’t automatically assume that any joint pain is osteoarthritis, advises Diana. Pain, weakness, or stiffness can also be an indication of other issues, such as a muscle that is slowly disintegrating, an autoimmune condition like lupus, or an infection like Lyme disease, he continues.
It’s important to see your general care physician or an orthopaedic doctor if you have joint pain that is severe despite taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen and that discomfort is restricting your regular day-to-day function. You can anticipate going through tests, being questioned, and going through a number of procedures to assist your doctor properly establish what is causing your pain.
Questions Your Orthopaedist May Ask
Your primary care physician might suggest that you see an orthopaedist if you’re having joint pain. The musculoskeletal system, which includes your bones, joints, tendons, and ligaments, is the area of medicine that this kind of doctor specializes in treating. The most frequent kind of arthritis, osteoarthritis, is frequently treated by orthopaedists; however, your joint discomfort may not be caused by arthritis, and your healthcare provider will need to get some information from you before carrying out any diagnostic tests. Diana explains that an orthopedist is like Sherlock Holmes attempting to determine whether you have osteoarthritis or a mechanical issue. Your examination will reveal the hints, and you may anticipate your doctor asking you these crucial questions.
What is the background of your family? Neither parent had arthritis, did they both? Do any siblings suffer from joint issues?
Numerous autoimmune joint diseases, including lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, as well as osteoarthritis, run in families. There’s a good possibility you’ll inherit a certain sort of joint condition if one of your parents has it. By employing radiography and laboratory testing, your doctor can assess this. Your doctor will also inquire as to whether any of your parents or siblings have had to have joints replaced.
INJURY OR ACTIVITY HISTORY:
What is your personal injury background? As a child, did you ever suffer from a bone or joint injury? Are you a marathon runner or a lifetime jogger? (An early injury is frequently a setup for osteoarthritis around 50, adds Diana.) What forms of exercise do you regularly engage in? What did you do for a living?
While osteoarthritis can arise from everyday wear and tear, injuries sustained while participating in sports or at work frequently initiate, hasten, or worsen this condition or joint discomfort. Years may have passed before you started experiencing symptoms from these wounds. It’s also crucial to let your doctor know if you’ve ever had surgery near or on the damaged joints.
How does your discomfort feel? Is it stern and acute or aching and dull? When does the discomfort exactly begin, and when does it get worse? Does the other shoulder or knee, which is the opposing joint, also hurt? Was the onset of these symptoms gradual or abrupt? Is the pain more severe following exercise or rest?
While each person’s experience of arthritis may vary, the timing of symptoms and the number of affected joints might offer crucial information about your underlying condition.
DIAGNOSTIC TESTS FOR CHRONIC JOIN PAIN AND OSTEOARTHRITIS
Your doctor will want to rule out any other potential causes before diagnosing any kind of arthritis or joint discomfort. To rule out other illnesses and identify arthritis, they may perform a wide range of tests. These consist of:
- A complete blood count: This calculates the variety of blood cells you possess. Additionally, it shows whether there is inflammation or infection and how you are feeling in general.
- Erythrocyte sedimentation rate: Red blood cells clump together more quickly than usual when inflammation develops anyplace in the body. A high “sed rate” can be indicative of an inflammatory arthritis such rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, or Lyme disease, but it is generic, meaning that it increases in many different illnesses.
- Antibody blood test: A blood antibody known as rheumatoid factor is present in up to 80% of individuals with rheumatoid arthritis. The bloodstreams of more than 95% of lupus patients have antinuclear antibodies.
- Arthrocentesis: In this procedure, fluid from a joint is manually removed with a needle, and the fluid is then examined under a microscope. It aids in the detection of infection and also establish whether the pain is brought on by gout, another kind of arthritis.
- Radiography: An X-ray reveals several things to doctors, such as how the bones of the joint line up, whether the ends are round and smooth or have an unevenness known as a bone spur, and whether a good amount of room is still left between your bones’ ends for cushioning. According to Diana, “X-ray is the least priced, most accessible, and valuable method for detecting mild osteoarthritis.”
- Ultrasonography: To provide an image of soft tissues like tendons, muscles, ligaments, and nerves, an ultrasonography, sometimes known as an ultrasound, uses high-frequency sound waves. This, in contrast to other imaging methods, enables your specialist to actually see these structures as you move the joint, enabling them to evaluate the performance of the joint as well as the degree of damage to structures other than bone.
- Computed tomography (CT) scan: These computerized X-ray images display cross sections of bone and muscle in both the vertical and horizontal planes. These tissue “slices” are a lot more accurate than traditional X-rays.
- MRI: An image of the bones and surrounding soft tissue is created by a computer using strong magnets and radio waves. An MRI can show your doctor very minute details of cartilage degradation. According to Diana, it will assist identify osteoarthritis in its earliest stages, which may not yet be seen on an X-ray.
By: Miss Cherry May Timbol – Independent Reporter
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