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When to See a Doctor About Chronic Joint Pain

If you’re one of the 25% of Americans living with chronic joint pain, you know the negative physical, emotional, and social effects it can have. At Interventional Pain and Regenerative Medicine Specialists in Arlington, Virginia, John Huffman, MD, and the care team offer pain management services to alleviate your pain so you can get back to living life.

We also know that patients with chronic pain sometimes struggle about if or when to see a pain doctor about their condition. To help you decide, Dr. Huffman and our team have gathered this information about chronic joint pain and when to seek help.       

What is chronic joint pain?

Pain is a signal that something is wrong. Acute pain results due to a specific cause, like an injury or disease. Most of the time, acute pain resolves quickly as your body heals.

Chronic pain, on the other hand, can last for months or years, depending on the cause. You may be diagnosed with chronic joint pain if the pain in the affected joints lasts for more than six months. 

Sometimes people with chronic joint pain experienced an injury or illness that caused acute pain. If the pain signals remain active in your nervous system even after you’ve healed, you’ll still feel pain despite being healthy. 

Sometimes chronic joint pain develops because of a disease, like degenerative or infectious arthritis. Other times, people develop chronic joint pain for no known reason. 

People with chronic joint pain experience physical symptoms, such as tense muscles, limited mobility, low energy, and changes in appetite. But the condition can do more than affect your physical wellbeing. 

Living with chronic joint pain affects your emotional and mental wellbeing, evoking depression, anxiety, anger, and fear. Sometimes the emotional effects are more challenging to live with than the physical.

In addition, living with chronic pain can accelerate the loss of gray matter. This is the part of your brain responsible for communication. As you lose gray matter, you may experience additional symptoms, including:  

It’s important to note that negative physical, emotional, and mental side effects can impact your ability to enjoy and be fully engaged in your life.

There’s good news, however. Even though chronic joint pain leads to changes in your brain and body, research also shows that when effectively treated, these changes may be reversible.

How can a doctor help my chronic joint pain?

Most doctors don’t receive adequate training on pain and pain management. That’s why it’s important to seek help from a pain specialist. Your pain management specialist works with you to take a deeper look at the cause of your chronic joint pain to create an effective treatment plan.

Dr. Huffman works to reduce your joint pain while helping you find ways to live with it so you can enjoy activities with family and friends and stay productive in your professional life. With Dr. Huffman’s guidance, your mobility will increase as your pain experience improves. 

When is it time to see a pain doctor for my chronic joint pain?

You’ll know it’s time to seek specialized help when your chronic joint pain interferes with your quality of life. If you find yourself missing school or work because of joint pain or aren’t able to move without pain or have trouble sleeping, it’s time to contact a pain management specialist.  

You should also consider seeing a pain doctor to ensure your condition and pain don’t get worse if you have a condition linked to chronic joint pain, including:

What’s involved in treatment for chronic pain?

At Interventional Pain and Regenerative Medicine Specialists, a pain management plan for chronic joint pain depends on the symptoms and preferences of each patient. 

The effectiveness of different approaches varies person-to-person, so Dr. Huffman may recommend trying multiple approaches or changing your plan if you aren’t finding the relief you need.

Some examples of modalities used in your pain management plan include: 

Dr. Huffman is committed to helping patients with chronic pain improve the quality of their lives, so he meets with you regularly to learn if your treatment plan is manageable and effective. 

If you’re living with chronic pain that interferes with your life, contact Dr. Huffman at the Northern Virginia office of Interventional Pain and Regenerative Medicine Specialists to schedule a visit. You can also use our online tool to book an in-person or telehealth appointment!

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