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Imperial Health


Aches and Pains? When to Call the Doctor. - Wednesday, May 13, 2015
Aches and pains come with age, so at times it may seem tricky to determine when itís time to see a doctor. You might write off that joint pain to senioritis or your neck pain to a bad nightís sleep, but there are times when the symptoms indicate something more ominous.

"We all have aches sometimes, especially as we get older. But arthritis is also a common condition that is best identified and treated early, so if thereís a question that it could be something more than traditional wear-and-tear, itís best to consult a physician,Ē said Dr. Justin Wu, rheumatologist with Imperial Health.

Home remedies can be useful when symptoms first begin to flare, according to Dr. Wu, but if the pain doesnít go away or gets worse, itís time to make an appointment. This is especially true in cases of rheumatoid arthritis. Unlike the traditional damage caused by osteoarthritis, he explains that rheumatoid arthritis attacks the lining of the joints. This painful condition often results in swelling and limited mobility. The best way to manage rheumatoid arthritis is to identify it early and start intervention to minimize damage.

"Mild joint pain and stiffness occurs for any number of reasons. Sometimes all it takes is over-the-counter medication like ibuprofen or Aleve to make it go away. But if six weeks pass and the pain and stiffness is still there, call your doctoróespecially if other symptoms arise along the way,Ē Dr. Wu said.

He says other warning signs that itís time to seek medical help include:

- Unexplained swelling. Although itís normal to have an achy joint, itís not normal to experience sudden swelling.

- If pain in the joints is associated with warmth or tenderness, even if thereís no swelling, call the doctor.

- Morning stiffness that lasts for hours.

- Severe pain that prevents you from activities of daily living. "If you canít use or move the joint, call your doctor,Ē Dr. Wu said.

- Side effects caused by over-the-counter medications.

- Incontinence, even if mild.

- Fever or rash. "If you have joint pain and suffer from a fever simultaneously, call the doctor,Ē Dr. Wu said.

- If your back and neck are in pain and you also feel weakness or unsteadiness in your extremities.

"Arthritis can be painful and disabling. Itís also very common,Ē Dr. Wu said. "If youíre able to seek treatment early enough, you can prevent joint damage. This is critical in treating arthritis effectively, particularly rheumatoid arthritis, which behaves differently than osteoarthritis and can progress quickly. As with most health conditions, early intervention can slow progression and greatly increase quality of life. So when it doubt, make the call.Ē

For more information about the diagnosis and treatment of rheumatoid arthritic, call Dr. Wu at (337) 312-8650.