There are many different causes of joint pain or immobility, and they all require slightly different treatments. Some joint conditions may only be temporary and can be resolved with rest, while other causes of joint pain such as arthritis, can become steadily worse and require treatment. If you have concerns about a joint, you may benefit from the expertise of a joint specialist.
Joints are the connections between bones. They are made up of bones, ligaments, tendons, and cartilage, which all give the joint stability and structure and allow it to move without issue. Joints can be vulnerable to a number of different injuries and conditions.
Joint specialists are orthopedic doctors who are experts at diagnosing, treating, and preventing disorders and injuries in the musculoskeletal system. This includes joints, bones, ligaments, tendons, and muscles. You should see a joint specialist if:
- You are experiencing joint pain that doesn’t improve, even with rest and ice therapy
- You experience pain when the joint is not in use
- Pain, redness, or swelling that gets progressively worse
- You have a reduced range of motion in your joint
- Normal, everyday activities like lifting or brushing your hair are causing pain or becoming difficult
- You were in an accident and are experiencing pain, swelling, and other symptoms that you previously did not
If you experience the following symptoms, it could indicate a more serious condition, such as a fractured or dislocated joint, which requires urgent treatment:
- Intense pain, bruising, and swelling around the joint
- An obvious deformity in the joint area
- Inability to move your joint normally
What Joint Issues Do Joint Specialists Treat?
There are many conditions and injuries that joint specialists treat. In some cases, joint pain can be felt immediately and bruising and swelling can follow – this is usually the result of a sudden injury or direct blow. Other conditions can accumulate over time and are often the result of overuse or repetitive movement which places stress on the joint. The most common conditions treated by joint specialists are:
Arthritis is a degenerative disease that can cause stiffness, immobility, and swelling in the joints. Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis which affects the cartilage in joints and causes it to wear away. Cartilage is the tough, shock absorbing layer that covers the ends of many of our bones and forms a smooth, protective surface that allow the bones in our joints to glide easily during motion. If the cartilage is damaged or worn away, it can cause painful bone on bone rubbing.
Joint fractures can occur when too much pressure is placed on bones such as from a direct blow or fall. The wrist, hand, and shoulder are common areas to be fractured which can cause pain, swelling, loss of mobility, and tenderness. If you suspect you have a fracture, it is important to see a joint specialist as soon as possible to ensure your injury heals properly and quickly.
A joint dislocation usually occurs from a sudden blow to the joint, such as during a fall or by crashing into something, which can force the joint out of its normal position. Dislocations commonly occur in the shoulder and elbow. Symptoms can include sudden, intense pain, an inability to bend or straighten the joint, and a visibly deformed joint. If you experience a joint dislocation, seek medical attention immediately.
Bursitis is inflammation of the bursa which are small sacs of fluid, which form under the skin and around joints to cushion and lubricate bones, tendons, and muscles. Bursitis is often caused by injury and repetitive movement during activities. Bursitis in the elbow commonly occurs due to prolonged pressure (such as leaning on the tip of the elbow for long periods of time). Bursitis can also be caused by an infection or medical condition, such as arthritis or gout.
Joint Specialists in Maryland
If you are experiencing joint pain or reduced mobility in your hand, wrist, arm, elbow, or shoulder, talk to the orthopedic specialists at Greater Chesapeake Hand to Shoulder. We provide surgical and non-surgical treatments for all problems of the upper extremity.