Almost everyone experiences pain at some point in their lives. But, how do you know when to ride it out and when it’s time to call the doctor? Pain is a complex condition with many possible causes, so the answer is not always clear.

Pain is the most common reason people see a doctor, according to the National Institutes of Health. And chronic pain is the leading cause of disability in the United States. In fact, more Americans have chronic pain than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined.

Often when people come to my office, it’s not surgery first. It’s normally conservative treatment first. Joint replacement is a great procedure, but only if you really need one.

So we offer injections of steroid medicine into the joints, hips, knees, and shoulders. It can work very well and calm pain down for many months. Another conservative option is to consider therapy, because strengthening the muscles around an arthritic joint can help the joint function better.

Paul Lapoint, DO

Orthopedic Surgeon, Trinity Medical Orthopaedics

Acute vs. Chronic Pain

  • Acute Pain: Comes on suddenly and is temporary. For example, you sprain your ankle, pass a kidney stone, or have surgery. This pain can be sharp and hard to ignore.
  • Chronic Pain: Can last for weeks, months or even years. You have an aching back, get frequent headaches, or have arthritis. This pain is more difficult to treat and its cause may be unknown.

Most physicians, will tell you that if pain continues for weeks or months, and over-the-counter medications and standard treatments are not effective, it’s time to seek medical help for your pain management.

Joint Pain Management Options

When you experience acute pain, your first line of defense is often to reach for an over-the-counter (OTC) pain medication, such as acetaminophen (i.e., Tylenol) or ibuprofen (i.e., Advil or Motrin). You may also need to rest, ice or elevate the area causing discomfort.

Chronic pain requires a longer-term strategy that may include:

  1. See your primary care doctor. He or she can help identify the cause of your pain and investigate treatment options.
  2. Consult a specialist. If your pain continues or gets worse, your physician may refer you to a specialist, such as an orthopedic specialist or a physical therapist.
  3. Manage your medicine. A variety of medicines may be used to manage the complexities of chronic pain. Your doctor may prescribe medication that can have side effects, including physical and psychological addiction. It’s important to follow instructions carefully and keep all healthcare providers advised of medicines and supplements you are taking.
  4. Consider wellness activities. When you’re under stress, you’re less able to control your response to pain. Acupuncture, biofeedback, yoga, massage and music therapy may be effective in reducing stress and anxiety.
  5. Adopt a healthy lifestyle. The same behaviors that reduce your risk of disease can help you manage chronic pain. Eat a balanced diet, limit or eliminate alcohol, stay active and maintain a healthy weight.

Find an Orthopedic Specialist Near You
Call (716) 923-7153

Find an Orthopedic Specialist Near You
Call (716) 9237153

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