Dr. Beavers is an orthopedic surgery doctor serving the DFW metroplex. If you are having pain in a joint, torn or sprained a ligament, or have broken a bone contact his office for a consultation.
Joint pain is among the most common musculoskeletal problems in the United States.
Although sometimes joint pain is no more than a minor inconvenience, more serious joint pain is all but debilitating.
Joint pain has a variety of causes, including traumatic injury and repetitive stress. Perhaps the most common, however, is osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis affects people of all ages but becomes more common and serious with age. In fact, the Arthritis Foundation estimates that over 10% of Americans over 25-year-olds struggle with the condition.
No matter the specific cause of your joint pain, an orthopedic specialist can help.
Recommended Dallas-Fort Worth Joint Doctors
What Is a Joint?
Most people have little more than a basic understanding of the function and design of a joint.
You probably know that the most major joints in the body are the hips, wrists, shoulders, and ankles – but do you know what a joint actually is in reality?
Zoom in on a joint and you’ll see they play a pivotal role in the musculoskeletal system. They serve as a connection between different bones in the body.
Each joint has a different range of motion. This enables the specific body part to move the set degree of motion before moving back into place.
Most joints are associated with ligaments that hold the bones together. A ligament simply connects the two bones and serves to assist the range of motion.
Joint pain stems from problems with the ligaments, tendons, cartilage, and bones associated with the joint in question.
Common Joint Problems and Injuries
Joint pain has a number of different causes.
Even a similar feeling of pain among two people can have a totally different cause. This is why it’s so important to visit a doctor to diagnose your joint problem.
With that said, there are certain joint pain causes that are more common than others.
- Osteoarthritis – A degenerative condition where the cartilage between the joints breaks down causing the bones to rub together.
- Gout – A complex form of arthritis notable for its swelling and inflammation, often occurring in the feet.
- Tendonitis – An inflammation of the tendons connecting the muscle to the bones.
- Bursitis – An inflammation of the fluid-filled sacs in the joints.
- Fracture – A break of one of the bones located in a joint.
This is just a (very) short list of the potential causes of joint pain.
An orthopedic specialist will look at your specific problem – particularly which joint it's affecting – to diagnose the cause and develop effective treatment.
Symptoms of Joint Problems
Knowledge of the symptoms of joint problems will help let you know when to see a doctor.
Naturally, joint pain is the number one symptom.
If you experience severe or prolonged (lasting more than a few days) pain in a specific joint, then you should plan a doctor’s visit.
Other symptoms of a serious joint problem are swelling, bruising, or redness on the joint.
Weakness or loss of range of motion are also serious symptoms. Yet another is experiencing the joint pain after a traumatic impact or similar injury.
All of these symptoms warrant a visit to your primary care doctor or an orthopedic surgeon.
Joint Risk Factors
Due to the nature of joints, anyone can experience joint pain.
Yet joint problems are more common with certain groups of people.
Here are a few of the top risk factors:
- Athlete – Those that exercise on a regular basis or engage in sports are more likely to receive both traumatic joint injuries and repetitive stress joint injuries.
- Repetitive Stress – Jobs or activities that require the same movements over and over again (such as typing or cutting hair) often lead to repetitive stress joint injuries.
- Aging – Many of the degenerative diseases that affect the joints become more prevalent with age.
How to Prevent Joint Pain
There’s no guaranteed way to prevent joint pain and joint injuries.
For example, osteoarthritis and similar degenerative have no cure, although many treatments are available that improve your quality of life.
Injuries, on the other hand, cannot always be avoided, although it the risk of injury can be mitigated by certain lifestyle changes.
The number one way to reduce the risk of joint pain is to maintain a healthy weight. The more stress you place on your joints, the higher the risk of joint pain.
This is especially true about weight-bearing joints like the hips, ankles, and knees. Overweight and obese people have a much higher prevalence of joint problems because of the extra weight that is placed on these important joints.
Strong joints also reduce the risk of injuries and other problems. That’s why regular exercise and a healthy diet are so important.
Non-Surgical Joint Treatment
Most of the time, an orthopedic doctor will recommend non-surgical treatment first.
- RICE – Rest, ice, compression, and elevation can help treat minor joint injuries.
- Immobilization – Bandages, braces, casts, and slings are used for some joint problems.
- Physical Therapy – Exercises and stretches help strengthen and increase flexibility in damaged joints.
Pain management is another form of non-surgical treatment. Medications and injections are used to help minimize pain while the injury heals.
Surgical Treatment for Joint Problems
Surgery is another option for certain joint problems.
The best surgery for you depends on the specifics of your problem. Most important, which joint is actually injured.
A few common types of joint surgery are:
- Hip Replacement – Worn out components of the hips are replaced. Common for osteoporosis.
- Knee Replacement – Partial or complete knee replacement replaces the damaged components in the knee.
- Shoulder Joint Replacement – This rare surgery is used to replace irrevocably damaged components in the shoulder joint.
- Wrist Joint Replacement – This surgery usually replaces the ends of damaged bones rubbing together in the wrists.
Most joint replacement surgeries are complex open surgeries. The surgeries used for more minor problems are minimally invasive to reduce recovery and rehabilitation time.
Why you need to see an Orthopedic Doctor
Orthopedic surgeons are specialists in the musculoskeletal system.
It’s their job to evaluate your joint problem to diagnose the cause and create the most effective treatment and rehabilitation program.
Although this sometimes involves joint surgery, treatment most often starts with non-invasive non-surgical treatments first.