Mya Care Blogger 25 Aug 2023

Updated 25 August 2023

The human body is a remarkable machine, made up of 206 bones and 360 joints connecting the bones. And, even if one of them isn't working properly, you could be in for a world of discomfort and pain.

You might think that you can just tough it out or wish for your pains to go away on their own. Most of us believe that musculoskeletal issues will resolve on their own, and we frequently avoid seeing a doctor or following their advice.

However, an orthopedic physician can assist you in finding a procedure that provides long-term relief and stops the pain in its tracks. Furthermore, even routine activities and tasks may seem difficult if musculoskeletal problems are not treated promptly by a specialist.

Now, it can be difficult to determine what can be left to heal naturally and what needs professional care. To help you out, we've listed the tell-tale signs that it's time to see an orthopedic specialist.

But first, let's have a deeper understanding of orthopedic doctors and what they do.

Orthopedic Doctors: Who They Are And How They Help You?

Numerous medical specialties treat musculoskeletal ailments like arthritis, persistent pain, and injuries. Physical therapists, rheumatologists, neurologists, orthopedic surgeons, and specialists in rehabilitation medicine all deal with conditions affecting the muscles, bones, and joints.

An Orthopedician is a doctor who specializes in musculoskeletal health, which involves the bones, muscles, and all of the tissues that support them. They also help with rehabilitation, which enables you to regain flexibility, range of motion, strength, and movement after surgery or an injury. Additionally, orthopedicians develop ways to prevent injuries or stop the progression of chronic conditions like arthritis.

There is substantial training involved in becoming an orthopedic doctor. This includes a four-year undergraduate course at a university or college, followed by another four years of medical school. Then, a five-year-long residency training focused on orthopedics and a year of subspecialization fellowship.

Board-certified orthopedic doctors treat a wide range of conditions, including the following:

  • Muscle strains.
  • Bone fractures.
  • Joint or back pain.
  • Injuries to tendons or ligaments, such as tendonitis and sprains.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Bone cancer.
  • Arthritis.
  • Limb abnormalities, such as bowlegs and clubfoot.

When Should I See An Orthopedic Doctor?

Sometimes, it can get confusing whether to consult an orthopedician or just wait it out. So, when deciding whether to make an appointment with an orthopedic doctor, take into account these warning signs:

1. Swollen Joint

In the soft tissues surrounding joints, swelling tends to happen when fluid builds up in the tissues. It can be caused by trauma, bacterial infections, or reactive or chronic arthritis. Osteoarthritis, gout, septic arthritis, and psoriatic arthritis are additional conditions that can result in swollen joints.

Rare causes include ankylosing spondylitis, rheumatic fever, and an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism).

Joint swelling warrants an orthopedic evaluation, particularly if it is accompanied by pain. It is also essential to see a doctor if you have a fever along with swollen joints.

2. Back Pain

Anyone can suffer from back pain. According to statistics, 80% of people, ranging from young to elderly, suffer from upper or lower back pain. Mild back pains can be caused by activities of daily living like standing up in the kitchen, lifting weights, and overdoing exercises in addition to prolonged sitting.

But let's say your back pain is persistent, chronic, and getting worse, causing you to lose control of your bowels or bladder and weaken the muscles in your legs. In that situation, it is crucial to seek medical attention from an orthopedic specialist to prevent further deterioration and life-threatening conditions.

3. Persistent Or Chronic Joint Pain

A joint pain that lasts a long time is a warning sign. Chronic refers to pain that lasts three to six months or never goes away. This pain may indicate swelling or inflammation around the joints, but it may also suggest that the bones in the joints are rubbing against one another. All of these signs and symptoms may indicate arthritis.

Women are more likely than men to have arthritis. As people get older, their chances of getting arthritis also rise. However, people as young as 20 can develop arthritis depending on their risk factors. Additional risk factors for arthritis include being overweight, having had joint injuries in the past, and repeatedly bending a joint while performing a daily task or at work.

Experiencing pain for a few days is one thing, but persistent pain for several weeks or months should make you strongly think about getting professional help.

4. Difficulty In Climbing Stairs

Many people suffering from knee-related problems find it challenging to ascend and descend stairs. Most often caused by arthritis, which results in cartilage degeneration that cushions the knee joints, difficulty going up and down stairs is a sign of damage to the knee joints.

Even mild arthritis and the loss of knee joints' protective cushioning can make climbing stairs extremely difficult. Therefore, if you experience even a little discomfort or pain while using the stairs, you should see an orthopedic doctor and take action before the discomfort worsens.

5. Neck Pain that Is Increasing In Severity

Prolonged computer and smartphone use that strains the neck muscles can cause neck pain. This kind of neck pain, due to over-exhaustion, can be treated at home with rest and mild painkillers.

But if your neck pain lasts for several days and is accompanied by numbness or weakness in your hands or arms, headache, or shoulder pain, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Some of the most common causes of increased and persistent neck pain include rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis (bone spurs), and herniated disks (causing nerve compression). Rarely, increasing pain in the neck can also be a sign of more serious illnesses like cancers and meningitis.

6. Twisted Or Sprained Ankle

When the ligaments supporting the ankle are ripped or damaged, the ankle becomes sprained. Even though ankle sprains are frequent injuries brought on by running, jogging, walking on uneven terrain, or stepping on an object, they are also prevalent when engaging in sports.

If proper treatment is not received, they can cause crippling pain and result in long-term conditions like post-traumatic arthritis.

Depending on the severity of the ligament tear, tenderness, ankle instability, and swelling in the ankle, orthopedic doctors can assist you in recovering and returning to normal activities within 6 to 12 weeks. To avoid recurrent sprains and ankle instability, non-steroidal medications, flexible footwear, and ankle supports are also suggested.

7. Stiff, Weak, and Bruised Muscles

You may have a muscle contusion if you recently sustained an injury and are now dealing with swelling, pain, and a bluish discoloration around the injury. These wounds develop when your body collides with a hard object or when a blunt object strikes a muscle. The skin is not broken, but the muscle fibers are shattered, and blood can occasionally collect under the skin, causing a lump to form over the wound.

You can prevent significant complications occasionally arising from deep muscle contusions by seeking immediate medical attention and adhering to your orthopedic doctor's recommendations for rehabilitation. Compartment syndrome and myositis ossificans are two of the more common side effects.

8. Fractures

A fracture can occur when bone cracks or breaks as a result of excessive pressure. In addition, blunt force trauma, degenerative bone diseases like osteoporosis, and repetitive motion injury (where a bone is continuously or repeatedly stressed) can all result in fractures.

Untreated fractures can lead to blood loss as bones are richly supplied by blood vessels. It can also stunt the growth of the bone in a child if the long bone breaks near the growth plate of a joint. Fractures can also lead to injuries to the surrounding structure or underlying organs and tissues.

9. Bone Pain

In contrast to muscle and joint pain, bone pain is a severe discomfort felt in one or more bones. Osteopenia (low bone mass), mineral deficiencies, osteoporosis (brittle bones), cancers, injuries, and diseases that impede the blood flow to bones and bone tissues can all be major contributors to bone pain.

Persistent pain even when at rest, reduced range of motion, hunched posture, exhaustion, gradual height loss, and unexplained weight loss are all warning signs of bone pain. Pregnancy can also cause bone pain, also known as pelvic-related pelvic girdle pain (PPGP).

Rarely, osteomyelitis (infection of the bone and the marrow) and leukemia (blood cancer) are also linked to bone pain. Therefore, one should not ignore bone pain and seek medical attention as soon as possible.

10. Instability In Walking

Balancing and mobility issues can develop when there is a problem with your musculoskeletal system. They are frequently an indication of problems with your feet or ankles. Instability can also result in injuries to other parts of your body.

Some common orthopedic conditions that may cause instability in walking are:

  • Nerve damage
  • Muscle weakness
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Joint pain
  • Ankle sprains and fractures
  • Arthritis

The best way to identify the cause of your balance or mobility issues and find a solution, whatever they may be, is to see an orthopedic specialist.

11. Tingling Or Numb Hands And Feet

The "pins and needles" sensation or tingling hands, feet, or both is a very common and uncomfortable symptom. Sometimes this tingling is harmless and only lasts for a short period of time. For instance, it might be brought on by pressure on the nerves while you're dozing off if your arm is twisted underneath your head. Alternatively, it might result from prolonged leg crossing that puts pressure on the nerves.

However, tingling can frequently be severe or persistent. In addition, other symptoms like pain, numbness, itching, and muscle wasting may also accompany it. In these circumstances, tingling may be a symptom of nerve damage, which can be brought on by various conditions, including systemic illnesses like multiple sclerosis, diabetes, repetitive stress injuries, traumatic injuries, bacterial or viral infections, and exposure to toxic substances.

12. Pain On Repetitive Motion

Our joints can only withstand a certain amount of repetitive motion despite being designed to move. You might begin to experience joint pain if you have a physically demanding job or engage in a sport that involves repetitive movements.

This is particularly valid if the repetitive motion is performed incorrectly. Pain can also result from forceful exertions, awkward positions, and vibrating machines.

Overuse injuries are typical and include:

Injuries from repetitive motion commonly affect the shoulder, wrist, hand, and elbow. However, they can also happen in the back, neck, hip, and knee. It's crucial to take frequent breaks and stretch if you work a job or play a sport that requires repetitive motions. Any time you experience pain while engaging in a repetitive activity, you should seek out an orthopedic specialist.

Final Thoughts

A visit to an orthopedic physician may be necessary if you have persistent, recurrent, worsening, or unresponsive bone, joint, or muscle pain or swelling that can't be treated at home or if you have difficulty carrying out daily activities due to a significant reduction in the mobility or range of motion of a joint, such as your elbow, knee, or shoulder.

Additionally, nerve-related symptoms, such as numbness, tingling, or a "pins and needles" sensation in your arms or legs, require medical attention from a specialist.

Furthermore, those with risk factors for orthopedic conditions, such as obesity or a genetic predisposition for arthritis, might benefit from promptly consulting an orthopedic specialist.

To search for the best Orthopedics Healthcare Providers in Croatia, Germany, India, Malaysia, Singapore, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, the UAE, UK and the USA, please use the Mya Care search engine.

To search for the best doctors and healthcare providers worldwide, please use the Mya Care search engine.


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  • Hanewinckel, R et al. “Peripheral neuropathies.” Handbook of clinical neurology vol. 138 (2016): 263-82. doi:10.1016/B978-0-12-802973-2.00015-X

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