When Should You Be Concerned About Joint Pain?
Everyone has those days when they wake up and their joints ache. A question often asked is, “When should I be concerned about joint pain?” There is no simple answer, as joint pain has many different causes. Joint pain can be temporary, such as being sore after a workout, or chronic, caused by an underlying condition.
If you’re unsure whether to bring up your joint pain with your physician, keep reading for some signs it’s more than regular soreness.
Sudden Onset Joint Pain
Any sudden change in your health is a cause for concern — it indicates something is different.
It isn’t necessarily a sign of trouble if you develop sudden joint pain after an injury. However, if you see any deformity in the joint, that requires medical evaluation.
Non-Injury Causes of Sudden Joint Pain
If you have no injury, there are several possible causes, some more serious than others. For example, what feels like joint pain to you might be an issue with the connective tissue, such as a ligament, tendon, or muscle.
Some common musculoskeletal problems that may feel like joint pain include tendonitis and bursitis. It may feel like the joint hurts because you only have pain when it moves. With some self-care, the connective tissue’s inflammation can subside, making movement easier. However, if that doesn’t happen in a few days, then you need to get a proper diagnosis.
The pain may be a sign of something more serious, especially if you have other symptoms like fever or rash or if you can’t move the joint. Some possible causes include lupus, gout, infection in the joint, or fibromyalgia. These all require treatment.
The type of pain and intensity also matter. Pain is the body’s way of telling you something is wrong. For example, intense pain after an injury is a medical emergency. If severe pain comes on without an injury, you should still have a doctor look at it.
Mild pain that comes on suddenly is less of a concern unless there is also:
- Redness around the joint
- Tenderness and heat in the joint
These are all signs you need to talk to your doctor. Depending on the technology available, you may be able to assess moderate concerns like these via a telehealth appointment.
Chronic Joint Pain
About 24% of adults in this country have chronic joint pain, and many of that 24% will have arthritis in that joint. Self-care measures tend to work well for minor joint pain and stiffness from arthritis, but if pain cannot be managed by at-home means, it’s important to discuss it with a healthcare provider.
For example, if the pain affects your ability to move or impacts your quality of life, you should consider treatments beyond over-the-counter medications and home remedies like ice and heat. If the pain is intense enough to interfere with your ability to sleep, it is essential to get medical care for it.
Worsening Joint Pain
Worsening joint pain is often a sign of osteoarthritis. This form of arthritis occurs when the cartilage that protects the bones of a joint wears down. The pain may be mild at first, but the more you use the joint, the more stress you put on the cartilage, so it continues to disappear.
Even if the pain isn’t from osteoarthritis, worsening joint pain tells you the problem isn’t getting better on its own. It will require treatment to give you pain relief, like laser therapy.
Laser Therapy for Joint Pain
Laser therapy uses unique wavelengths of red light to target areas of pain like your hip, knee, or back joints. The red light stimulates the cells in the body to increase energy production. That makes laser therapy a natural:
- Anti-inflammatory: Pain of any kind is usually a sign of inflammation. So, no matter the cause, laser therapy should reduce the pain. This is because the laser light accelerates the natural inflammatory process. The faster that process goes, the sooner the pain relief comes.
- Vasodilator: Laser therapy increases circulation to the area by opening up blood and lymphatic vessels. More blood flow to the site brings nutrients for healing and energy. It also removes waste products, helping to relieve pain.
- Pain treatment: Laser therapy lowers the production of the chemical that triggers pain. This will stabilize the ion channels and trigger endorphins release, which acts like natural pain relievers.
At the same time, the laser treatment will help stimulate healing. The light causes cells to divide faster to improve recovery.
Joint pain can be life-altering, especially if it is chronic. Laser treatments, physical therapy, or chiropractic manipulations may be what you need to feel and move better. Find an Aspen Laser therapy provider with our interactive clinic map.