It can be difficult to know when it’s time to see an orthopedic doctor. Is it just a small injury that will go away on its own, or are you dealing with something more severe, that could potentially get worse if left untreated?
Many people put up with daily aches and pains, especially as we get older. We’ve lost track of the number of times a patient has said “oh, I had no idea it was that bad! I thought it was just a side effect of getting older!”
While this is often true in cases like arthritis and repetitive stress injuries, that does not mean that you have to live with the pain! An orthopedic doctor can help catalogue, diagnose and treat all kinds of issues, from the severe and traumatic to the mundane, everyday stuff that comes with age.
When is it time to see an orthopedic doctor?
1 – After a traumatic injury
Getting the most obvious case out of the way first: If you’ve been in an accident such as a car crash, a slip or fall, or if you’ve hurt yourself while exercising, it is VITAL that you get properly diagnosed by an orthopedic doctor. If left undiagnosed, a traumatic injury will often get far worse and cause a lifetime of problems. Delaying treatment can also make eventual surgeries, physical therapy and rehab far more extensive, time consuming and costly in the long-run.
Take, for example, the case of a weight lifter who hurt his shoulder. He backed off training for a while, iced it, did everything he was ‘supposed’ to do in case of injury. After three months, he still couldn’t lift his arm all the way up without experiencing pain, so he finally got a referral to see an orthopedic doctor. His ortho ordered imaging, where a partial tear to his rotator cuff tendon was discovered.
This injury would never have healed on its own. It required surgery to fix, and had almost certainly been made worse by his continued use of the arm after the initial injury. If he had come in immediately after it happened, his surgery would have been far more simple, his rehab and downtime would have been much shorter.
2 – Persistent Pain
Pain is the body’s way of telling us that something is wrong. While it is somewhat normal to experience general aches and pains, these minor complaints usually resolve themselves within a few weeks or months.
A consistent and persistent pain – that is, one that does not let up with time and RICE – is a strong indication that you need to be evaluated by an orthopedic doctor. If your symptoms do not get better within 6 weeks, book and appointment to be seen at Dayton Orthopedic Surgery.
3 – Weakness or Numbness
Not all injuries cause pain. Some injuries can cause numbness, tingling or weakness in the limb, especially when nerves are involved. Neurological injuries such as a bulging disk, sciatica, or trapped (encapsulated) nerves, will not resolve on their own, and will frequently get worse and more difficult to fix, the longer they go on.
It is extremely important to visit an orthopedic doctor if you experience weakness, numbness, pins and needles or tingling, before the problem becomes permanent.
4 – Swollen Joints
It is possible to develop swollen joints without suffering a specific injury. Swollen joints can indicate a rheumatological problem, such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout or lyme disease. They can also be caused by fluid collection around an injured joint, such as a ruptured meniscus or cyst. An orthopedic doctor will be able to correctly diagnose your swollen joints, and refer you to a rheumatologist if needed.
5 – Masses and Growths
Any new growth on your body needs to be evaluated by a doctor, who has been trained to diagnose and treat conditions of the musculoskeletal system, including bones, joints, ligaments, muscles, and tendons. An orthopedic doctor can evaluate the mass or growth, determine if it is a benign or malignant condition, and provide an appropriate treatment plan, which may include surgery, physical therapy, or medications. Early detection and prompt treatment can help ensure better outcomes and prevent complications.
What Can Happen if you Delay a Visit to an Orthopedic Doctor?
Delaying orthopedic treatment can result in a number of negative outcomes, including:
- Worsening of symptoms: Without proper treatment, an orthopedic condition can get worse over time and cause increased pain, discomfort, and loss of mobility.
- Progression of the condition: Delaying treatment can lead to the progression of the condition and make it harder to treat in the future.
- Development of complications: Orthopedic conditions can sometimes lead to other complications, such as infections, joint instability, or nerve damage, if not treated promptly.
- Decreased quality of life: Chronic pain and limited mobility can greatly impact a person’s quality of life.
- Increased healthcare costs: Delaying treatment can result in more expensive and complex procedures being needed in the future.
To make an appointment with one of our orthopedic specialists at Dayton Orthopedic Surgery and Sports Medicine Center, please call (937) 436-5763