Millions of Americans suffer from back, leg, shoulder, wrist, or other musculoskeletal pain due to injury, disease, or aging. Today, there are a number of treatment options available to alleviate these symptoms. A specialist orthopedic surgeon in Phoenix can diagnose the problem properly and provide solutions to fix it. At Mattalino Orthopaedic in Phoenix, AZ, we can offer a variety of treatments to give relief.
When Should You Visit an Orthopedic Surgeon in Phoenix?
For years, doctors have lobbied to classify pain as a fifth official vital sign for the human body. A person who is experiencing pain may be unwell even if they are otherwise healthy. Pain is a symptom of injury or disease, and we shouldn’t ignore it.
Pain can be the signal that something inside isn’t working correctly, and when it comes to joints and ligaments, these issues can develop both gradually and acutely. Either way, when you’re feeling pain in joints, ligaments, and muscles, it’s time to visit your orthopedic surgeon.
Types of Pain
Various types of pain can be both debilitating and impossible to ignore, such as a slipped disk or a dislocated shoulder. There are also pains that are more subtle, such as joint aches, which can be irritating at first, but become a nuisance over time. Many people simply live with these minor aches and pains, thinking them normal, and their quality of life slowly, but surely, suffers.
Among the most important ways to classify pain is whether it is new to the patient or if it is something they have experienced in the past. An acute injury may cause new pain (but not always). Perhaps there was an injury while working or playing, or maybe the foot or back twisted unluckily.
Pain that persists every day or almost every day for at least six months is referred to as chronic pain. It is estimated that there are 50 million chronically pained adults in the United States – about 20.4%. Any pain, whether acute or chronic, should be investigated by an orthopedic surgeon in Phoenix.
Understanding the Musculoskeletal System
Our bodies move because of our musculoskeletal system. The system consists of multiple bones kept together by muscles, joints, ligaments, tendons, and other connective tissue. Our bodies rely on this system not only to walk, stand, sit, and perform daily tasks, but also to protect our internal organs. The heart and lungs are well protected by the rib cage, for example.
Because the musculoskeletal system is so complex, it needs to be treated by a medical specialist. Orthopedic doctors are specialists in this area, and orthopedic surgeons are the most advanced. In addition to diagnosing and treating orthopedic disorders, they are also capable of performing a corrective operation if and when it is necessary.
Types of Musculoskeletal Pain
Orthopedic injuries are common in sports. There are so many common sports injuries that many of them have their own names. Whether it’s a bad landing from a jump or a twisted foot or a sore back, sports are one of the leading causes of injury.
It is common for amateur athletes to underdiagnose sporting injuries. A simple ankle sprain or knee sprain may actually need to be surgically repaired due to micro-tears in ligaments or cartilage. Instead, the amateur athlete applies ice, takes some over-the-counter pain killers, and just goes back to normal life. As a result, the injury doesn’t heal, or it heals poorly.
Wear and Tear
In orthopedics, acute pain is usually caused by an injury. Given proper attention, treatment, and rest, acute injuries can heal on their own in many cases. An acute injury may, however, be more serious than it seems, where bones may be damaged or tissues may be damaged. An injury that does not resolve in a reasonable amount of time should be seen by a professional.
The cause of other types of pain may not be as obvious as an injury. Degenerative diseases, such as osteoarthritis, are often responsible for joint pain and stiffness. Initially, chronic pains are dull and infrequent, but they do not heal on their own.
Besides being physically difficult to live with, chronic pain in the musculoskeletal system is also depressing: knowing that the pain will always return when upon waking, or interfere with sleep entirely, even leads some people to a dangerous dependence on prescription painkillers.
How Can an Orthopedic Surgeon Help?
When someone is in pain or injured, they usually respond immediately. Most people, however, take lesser pains for granted, assuming they will just learn to live with them or that they will soon get over them. Some aches and pains pass on their own, but when an underlying medical condition is present, relief is usually only temporary.
In fact, treating an injury as if it were nothing serious can make it harder to treat if you underestimate the damage. Seeing an orthopedist is necessary when pain or limited movement doesn’t subside in a reasonable time frame – days, not weeks. The orthopedic surgeon is better able to understand both the problem and the available treatment options than any other orthopedic specialist.
The Diagnostic Process
Whenever you have serious pain or restricted movement due to orthopedics, you should consult an orthopedic surgeon in Phoenix. The first step will be for the specialist to understand whether this is an acute injury or a chronic condition.
During the exam, the doctor will examine joints, alignments, and areas of pain to look for abnormalities. Patients will be asked to demonstrate normal movement and to report any abnormalities. Initially, diagnostic tests can be carried out very simply with observation and discussion.
The patient can easily demonstrate certain conditions, like arthritis, and they are common enough for a doctor to make an accurate first diagnosis. Doctors may ask the patient to perform a gait analysis so they can identify any abnormalities in their ability to walk.
A Closer Look
Normally, an orthopedist will order imaging for their patients if they suspect an injury or disease that appears to be less obvious. Imaging can be quick and simple or comprehensive and lengthy, depending on the type and level of the piece of equipment. In the course of a physical exam, the doctor determines if imaging is necessary and if so, will usually begin with simple imaging tests. If necessary, more tests can be done.
To check whether chronic pain is a sign of an encroaching disease, a blood test may also be ordered. An X-ray is the most basic imaging test. Other more detailed tests include bone scans, MRIs, and CAT or CT scans. Talk to us about what each one of these tests can reveal and which is most appropriate for your condition.
The good news is that there are many non-surgical options available for conditions which, even a few years ago, would have been untreatable or treatable only with surgery. These include PRP injections and regenerative medicine, among other options. In some cases, the best treatment is simply time and the right physical therapy.
The vast majority of physical therapy sessions take place in a specialized setting with a physical therapist or occupational therapist supervising. In these facilities, specialized equipment is used to treat the problem area and track various metrics such as range of motion and overall recovery. Some physical therapy can be done at home, as well.
Getting Started With an Orthopedic Surgeon in Phoenix
Despite the difficulty of living with pain, millions do it every day without realizing there could be a solution. For survival, they resort to taking pain medications they would not otherwise need. Many of these pain remedies, which are often prescribed by family doctors or generalists, are extremely powerful and very addictive. And in addition to affecting daily activities, pain negatively affects mood, outlook, work, and family relations.
With so many effective medical treatments available, living with orthopedic pain is unnecessary. The problem can be diagnosed by an orthopedic specialist and there are many options available. A patient’s condition can very often be addressed through therapy and other non-invasive strategies, which will mark the beginning of getting back to normal health and function.
When you suffer from pain in your legs, arms, hands, back, shoulders, or anywhere in the musculoskeletal system, you owe it to yourself to identify and eliminate the cause of the pain. Visit us at Mattalino Orthopaedic in Phoenix, AZ today for a consultation and to get started on getting the relief you need.