Arthritis can be debilitating and painful, and it can also be a symptom of a more serious illness. Here we outline how prompt medical care can help prevent serious disability and improve your quality of life.

When you experience joint pain, your first thought might not be arthritis. You may chalk it up to an injury, sleeping awkwardly, or just the aches and pains associated with getting older.

When unexplained joint pain persists beyond a few days, you need to have it evaluated by your primary care doctor. At Doctors First in Gaithersburg and Germantown, Maryland, we can evaluate your condition and begin treatment, so you can get on with your life.

Arthritis isn’t just one condition

Arthritis is a generic term for more than 100 conditions of the joints, which can affect people of all ages, from babies to the elderly. Arthritis is the leading cause of disability among Americans, affecting more than 54 million men, women, and children. Of that number, 31 million suffer from the most common form of arthritis, osteoarthritis.

The Arthritis Foundation recommends that you make an appointment with your doctor if you experience any of the following:

  • Joint pain lasting more than three days
  • Joint pain that occurs several times in a month
  • Stiffness, swelling, or difficulty moving a joint
  • Redness or warmth surrounding a joint

If you experience any of these symptoms, you should make an appointment with your family care physician. Arthritis may be a symptom of a serious condition, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or a bacterial infection, all of which require urgent treatment to prevent a severe disability.

Your provider at Doctors First will promptly evaluate your symptoms and determine what is causing them. Then your provider can recommend a course of treatment to improve your symptoms, slow down the progression of the disease, and improve your quality of life.

The evaluation procedure for arthritis symptoms

When you visit Doctors First, your provider will ask about how your joint pain began and whether it was associated with any injury.

Your provider will then examine your affected joint and order imaging tests if needed, such as X-rays or an MRI. If your provider suspects an inflammatory condition, they will order blood work and may refer you to a rheumatologist for treatment.

If acute septic arthritis is suspected, which is a bacterial infection of the tissues and fluid surrounding the joint, you may need to be hospitalized and given antibiotics through an IV.

Doctors First can treat your arthritis

Your provider at Doctors First can help treat your arthritis with physical therapy. Physical therapy can help maintain flexibility in your affected joint and strengthen the muscles surrounding it. Your provider can also prescribe pain medications, anti-inflammatory medications, and administer steroid injections.

The health specialists at Doctors First can also provide advice on losing weight and exercising, which can help relieve pressure on your joint. They’ll also provide ongoing education and support to help you manage your arthritis symptoms.

If you’re suffering from joint pain and want relief, or if you’re interested in learning more about geriatrics care, book an appointment online or over the phone with Doctors First today.