Should You See a Doctor for Joint Pain?

You roll out of bed in the morning and work your shoulder around until it stops hurting. You get up from your work desk and walk around every 30 minutes to relieve the stiffness in your knee.You’re one of the 52 million plus Americans who experience joint pain.

There are many possible causes for joint pain, and some are more severe than others. Maybe you experienced an injury, maybe you’re suffering from overuse, or maybe you have a more serious condition. You may think that you have your joint pain managed with routines and rituals, but relief and management are two different things. How do you know if it’s time to see a doctor for joint pain?

Joint pain can be serious.

Joint pain is very common. It’s almost always unpleasant, but some causes of joint pain are very serious.

Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus can cause joint pain, and can also affect tissues and other organs in the body. Some conditions may cause permanent damage to your joints if left untreated.

You can’t know for certain what’s causing your joint pain without visiting your doctor.

When should you see a doctor for joint pain?

Occasional mild pain doesn’t necessarily require a visit to your doctor. There are some symptoms that warrant a visit with your primary care physician, though.

The following are good reasons to see a doctor for joint pain:

  • You experience joint pain with stiffness, swelling, redness,or your joint is tender and warm to the touch.
  • Joint pain prevents you from carrying out daily tasks.
  • You experience limited mobility or limited range of motion from joint pain.
  • You experience chronic joint pain (the pain is recurring, or does not go away).

If you notice these or other concerning symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor.

You don’t have to wait for a serious problem to seek medical care. If you think that there’s even a slight possibility that you should see a physician for your symptoms, you should probably see a doctor for joint pain. Your doctor may refer your to a rheumatologist.