10 Signs You Need to See an Orthopedic Doctor

by -

Your job can be hard work. Depending on what you do, you could be lifting heavy objects, doing repetitive motions, twisting, turning and moving all day long. The muscles, joints and nerves in your body can take a beating, but it’s important to take care of them before the problems become severe. Consider these warning signs to determine when to schedule an appointment with an orthopedic doctor.

1. Shoulder Pain

Pain in shoulders that increases at night and gets worse with movement should be examined by an orthopedic doctor. These symptoms are often combined with tenderness around a joint and can be a sign of tendonitis. This condition, which occurs due to overuse or injury, can  display the same symptoms in the elbow, heel and wrist. Tendons join the muscles to the bones in the body. If they become injured, overworked or lose elasticity during aging, they can cause the tendon to swell and become inflamed.

2. Trouble Climbing Stairs

Over time, joints in the knees and hips naturally begin to deteriorate, but sometimes they become too painful to function. If you have trouble walking, climbing stairs or getting out of chairs, it may be time to consider joint replacement surgery. Chronic pain that lasts more than six months and affects your daily life is a sign that your joints may be damaged. Reasons for joint replacement include past injuries and years of constant use.

3. Tingling or Numb Hands

If you feel like you commonly drop things, or if you have had a tingling in your thumb, index or middle finger, it’s possible that you have carpal tunnel syndrome. The nerve that runs from your forearm to your wrist travels through a “tunnel” in your wrist and gives the sensation to your thumb and all of your fingers except your pinky. Carpal tunnel syndrome can be caused by several things including a previous wrist fracture or working with tools or machinery that vibrate or require repetitive flexing of the wrist. 

4. Pain from Repetitive Motions

Occupations that require movement in a repetitive motion often create stress injuries in the muscles, tendons and nerves. Machines that produce vibrations, constantly awkward positions and forceful exertions also can cause stress injuries. This condition can cause pain and uncomfortable feelings in your body, especially in the upper body.

5. Painful Joints

Persistent or chronic pain in your joints is a sign that something is wrong. The term “chronic” means the pain lasts three to six months, or never goes away. This pain can be associated with inflammation or swelling around the joints, but it can also be a sign that the bones of the joints are rubbing together. All of these symptoms can be a sign of arthritis.

Arthritis is more prevalent in women than in men, and the risk of developing arthritis increases with age. However, people as young as 20 can develop arthritis depending on their risk factors. Excess weight, previous joint injuries and repeated bending of individual joints due to an occupation or everyday task can also increase your chances of arthritis.

6. Twisted Ankles

Walking on uneven ground or stepping on an object can often cause you to roll or twist your ankle. Pain on the outside of the ankle, swelling and bruising are all typical signs of a twisted or sprained ankle. Sprains are common in people who are on the move during the day. Some people have a predisposition to spraining their ankles due to their posture or the way their feet are turned. Past ankle sprains are also a risk factor for injuring your ankle again. 

7. Swollen Wrist

If you have ever fallen and landed on your hand, the chances are your wrist became swollen and bruised. More than likely, you had a sprained wrist. A sprain is the stretching of the ligaments that connect your bones to each other. Pulling or possibly even tearing these ligaments causes pain and loss of mobility in your wrist.

8. Swollen Joints

Joints that are swollen, tender, warm or stiff can be a sign of bursitis. This condition is caused by an increase in activity level, overuse or excess weight. A bursa is a sac filled with fluid that protects the muscles, tendons and bones from rubbing against each other. Bursitis is the swelling of these sacs. It happens most often in the shoulders, knees, elbows, feet and hips. 

9. Worsening Injury

An injury from an accident, like a fall or major collision, takes time to heal, but if the pain and swelling aren’t going away on their own you might have a fracture. A fracture is a crack or break in a bone. They happen most often to the arms, hips, spine and legs. Children break their arms more than adults because they attempt to catch themselves when they fall. People most at risk for fractures are under the age of 20 or over the age of 65.

Signs of a fracture include swelling or bruising over an injury to a bone, pain that gets worse with movement or pressure, and a loss of function of the injured body part.

10. Weak, Stiff and Bruised Muscles

If you have had an injury and are now experiencing swelling, pain and a bluish discoloration around the injury, it’s possible you have a muscle contusion. These injuries happen when a muscle is hit with a blunt object, or your body is slammed into a hard object. The fibers of the muscle are crushed, but the skin is not broken. Sometimes, blood can pool under the skin creating a lump over the injury.

If you are experiencing any of these problems, schedule an appointment with Dr. Jeffrey Wahl, D.O. at Greene County Medical Center’s West Central Orthopedics clinic or call (515) 386-2488 today! There’s always work to do, and Dr. Wahl can help you feel your best!