Occasional aches and pains are a fact of life, especially as many of us reach our later years. But if you’ve been experiencing pain in your joints or muscles and it’s not going away, when is it time to see a doctor? The answer is: There’s no reason you have to live with the pain for months before seeing a physician.
Dr. Linda Russell, Rheumatologist, offers this advice, “Generally if you have such pain for a week or more, you might consider starting with your internist or general practitioner. Or you can go straight to a rheumatologist – a physician whose specialty is evaluating and treating arthritis and other diseases of the joints, muscles and bones.”
“A rheumatologist can determine the source of your pain (such as arthritis or other disorder). If it is arthritis, he or she can also tell you if you have osteoarthritis (the most common type), rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis or a condition called ankylosing spondylitis. The treatment for each condition is different. If you have osteoarthritis, the rheumatologist will first recommend conservative treatments such as exercise, weight reduction and medication. To prepare for your visit, write down a list of the medications you may already be taking, and be prepared to talk about what makes your pain better or worse. Armed with such knowledge, you’ll be on your way to relief!”