About 52.5 million American adults have some type of arthritis, and the National Arthritis Data Workgroup expects that number to reach 67 million by 2030.
However, don’t let its prevalence fool you into thinking it’s normal and harmless. Arthritis is a destructive, progressive disease that attacks your joints, and if you ignore it, it can cause severe pain and loss of mobility.
So, how do you know when to deal with minor arthritis at home and when you need to seek professional help?
Glad you asked. As part of our comprehensive family medicine services, Dr. James Lee and our Woodstock Family Practice & Urgent Care team help patients throughout Woodstock, Georgia, to manage their arthritis symptoms with various treatments that address your specific arthritis type and level of progression.
The best way to determine whether you need medical treatment for your arthritis is to come see us. We can diagnose your conditions and let you know if at-home remedies will get you through your arthritis flare-ups, or if professional care is the way to go.
What’s causing your joint pain?
You ask a lot of your joints, and they dutifully serve you daily when you lift, bend, squat, jump, and sit, and they enable you to move about your world when and how you please. When one or more of your joints experience pain or stiffness, your life comes to a screeching halt.
Before you blame arthritis, though, consider the many other possibilities:
- Complex regional pain syndrome
In addition to injuries, your joint pain may stem from diseases such as cancer, Lyme disease, sarcoidosis, hypothyroidism, leukemia, or lupus. Dr. Lee diagnoses the root cause of your joint pain and starts you on the appropriate treatment.
If you have arthritis-related joint pain, he can help with that, too.
Arthritis is a catch-all term that covers more than 100 distinct types. Although all arthritis affects the joints, each has specific characteristics and requires different treatments.
For example, the most common arthritis type, osteoarthritis, develops when the cartilage in your joints wears down over time and allows your bones to rub against each other without protection.
Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, is an autoimmune disease that causes your body’s defense system to attack your joint tissues as if they were foreign enemies.
Gout is a type of arthritis that occurs when uric acid crystals build up in your joints, typically in your big toe.
Signs you should see a doctor for arthritis
In its early stages, arthritis pain and stiffness are usually mild, and flare-ups are infrequent. Resting the joint for a while is a good idea when the pain is bad, but don’t stop using the joint altogether. Movement is good for your joints, even arthritic joints.
Ice or a bag of frozen peas can reduce the swelling and ease your discomfort, too. Apply the cold pack for 15-20 minutes at a time a couple of times daily.
Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen go a long way toward relieving pain, inflammation, and stiffness.
However, since arthritis is progressive and there’s no cure, you’ll eventually need some help dealing with the symptoms. Dr. Lee offers several approaches to arthritis pain, depending on the type.
Seeking treatment not only alleviates your symptoms, but it also slows the progression and protects your joints for as long as possible.
Call Dr. Lee when:
- At-home treatment stops working
- You have pain in multiple joints
- You have sudden swelling
- Your pain is severe
- Resting doesn’t alleviate the pain
- Your joint reddens
- Your joint feels warm to the touch
- The joint is deformed
- The pain and stiffness affect your ability to move
After assessing your joints and determining the underlying cause, we recommend treatments that address your symptoms. For example, you could benefit from physical therapy, bracing, weight loss, prescription-strength anti-inflammatories, or corticosteroid injections.
We also offer platelet-rich plasma injections, a type of regenerative medicine that uses components from your blood to accelerate tissue healing.
Dr. Lee uses a sample of your blood to create a concentrated serum that is teeming with platelets. When he injects it into your joint, the platelets release growth factors that promote tissue healing and reduce inflammation.
Don’t suffer from joint pain. Book an appointment online or call Woodstock Family Practice & Urgent Care today for professional treatment that can ease your discomfort, increase your mobility, and save your joints.