The Arthritis Foundation identifies more than 100 types of arthritis that affect the health and wellbeing of your joints. So, you might be safe in assuming it’s the cause of your aching joints. But what if it’s not?
The team at Healthy Life Family Medicine provides the highest quality health care to patients of all ages in and around Goodyear, Arizona. Read what these family medicine specialists want you to know about joint pain and why an accurate diagnosis is crucial when designing an effective treatment strategy.
The many causes of joint pain
Although joint pain is a very common complaint, and arthritis is a common culprit, other conditions that range in severity from a mild tendon sprain to bone cancer can also trigger joint discomfort.
Other nonarthritic sources of joint pain include:
- Complex regional pain syndrome (CPRS) caused by a dysfunctional nervous system
- Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)
- Osteomyelitis (bone infection)
- Avascular necrosis (death of bone tissue) caused by decreased blood flow
- Viral or bacterial infection
- Ligament sprain or tear
Many of these conditions are accompanied by symptoms other than joint discomfort. Signs of hypothyroidism, for instance, may also include muscle aches and pains, cold sensitivity, and elevated blood cholesterol.
Why what’s causing your joint pain matters
Pain relief may be your major focus when seeking medical care for joint discomfort. That’s a top priority for your Healthy Life team as well. However, it’s important to note that joint pain is a symptom and not a disease unto itself.
Rather than temporarily masking your symptoms with medication, we’re committed to providing long-term remedies that address the condition causing your pain. Treating joint discomfort related to hypothyroidism with a pain medication, for instance, won’t solve the long-term effects of this relatively common thyroid disorder. And untreated hypothyroidism can cause significant health complications, including an increased risk of heart failure.
Our first step in treating joint pain starts with a thorough evaluation that may include diagnostic studies such as X-rays, an MRI to identify soft tissue injuries like tendinitis, or blood tests to rule out other diseases causing your pain.
Treating joint pain
Depending on the underlying cause of your joint pain, effective treatment may include:
- Oral medications to relieve pain and inflammation
- Corticosteroid joint injections
- Physical therapy
- Bracing, splinting, or casting to immobilize and support the painful joint
- Treatment for conditions such as hypothyroidism
- Antibiotics for bacterial infection
- Activity restrictions
- Rest, ice, and elevation of the affected joint to reduce pain and swelling
Regardless of what’s causing your joint pain, we can help. Schedule a visit at Healthy Life Family Medicine today.