Diagnosing Joint Pain: When Should You Visit Urgent Care?

Joint pain can be very disconcerting, and the cause can be difficult to pinpoint. Many diseases have joint pain and discomfort as a hallmark symptom while for others, it can be a non-specific complaint. Joint pain can be caused by anything from a sports injury or broken bone to a more complex diagnosis of cancer or an autoimmune disease.

Diagnosis of Joint Pain

Making the diagnosis and finding the root cause of your joint discomfort will require some testing, depending on the chief complaint. If there is injury involved, your physician will probably order an x-ray or other imaging study. This will help determine if there is a broken bone or if it is a sprain/strain. If there is no history of injury, the physician will examine the joint as well as your entire body to look for other clues. Is the joint swollen, red, or tender?

Without injury, your doctor will have to rely on lab work to begin the process of elimination. These tests range from the most basic, such as a complete blood count to the very complex immunological analysis. A whole host of information can be gleaned from these, and sometimes, a diagnosis can be made right away from the results.

On top of the lab testing, a complete history will be taken. Physicals are performed to ensure a correct diagnosis along with a check to make sure your vaccinations are current.

When to Visit Urgent Care

Urgent care services are a great benefit to your healthcare needs. Joint pain can come on suddenly and can be quite painful. It is not always convenient to go to your doctor or the emergency room. When you choose to go to an urgent care center, all of the services are performed under one roof without the wait of the ER. If your joint/joints are red or swollen or if you have a fever, seek help immediately at an urgent care center where the appropriate testing can be performed right away.