Is It Time To See A Rheumatologist About Your Joint Pain?
When you first see your doctor about joint pain, their reaction tends to be to send you home with some pain relievers, and often a vague diagnosis of arthritis or generalized soreness. Sometimes, this diagnosis sticks and all you really need is those pain relievers and some rest. But other times, you may go on to realize your joint pain has a more serious underlying cause — like rheumatoid arthritis or another autoimmune disease. So, what are some signs it's time to see a rheumatologist about your joint pain?
NSAIDs aren't doing much.
If your joint pain really were caused by osteoarthritis or generalized soreness, NSAIDs should provide quite a bit of relief. You may not be completely pain-free when taking them, but the pain should be much less pronounced. If you're not getting much or any relief from NSAIDs, then it is likely because your joint pain is being caused by an autoimmune condition. The NSAIDs are simply not strong enough to keep the inflammation under control when your own immune system keeps attacking your joints! This is a sure sign you need to see a rheumatologist for a diagnosis and more effective treatment.
Your joints are really red and warm.
Osteoarthritis causes the joints to be sore and stiff, but it doesn't usually make them overly red. If your joints are red and incredibly puffy, this is an indication you're dealing with an autoimmune condition. The redness is your body's more intense reaction to the immune attack. Sometimes, the skin in the area may also be itchy and painful. The redness may come and go, so try to see a rheumatologist when it's really acting up so that they can get a really clear idea of what's going on.
You have other strange symptoms.
Joint pain and stiffness are the best-known symptoms of RA and other similar autoimmune diseases, but they are rarely the only symptom. If you have any of the following symptoms accompanying your joint pain, you should certainly see a rheumatologist:
- Dry mouth
- Dry eyes
- Chronic fatigue or tiredness
- Loss of appetite
- Intermittent fevers and chills
Tell the rheumatologist about all symptoms, even those that don't seem to be related to your joint pain. Autoimmune diseases can cause some really strange bodily effects.
Is it time to see a rheumatologist for your joint pain? Keep your eyes peeled for the signs above, and don't hesitate to make an appointment.