man grimacing with shoulder painPain or discomfort in the musculoskeletal system, which includes the bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and other connective tissues, falls in the category of orthopedic pain. This kind of pain could be an indication of an acute injury, gradual deterioration, arthritis, or bursitis, and it should be assessed and diagnosed by an orthopedic specialist if it is severe or as soon as it begins to interfere with your normal activities.

At Northwest Extremity Specialists, our doctors focus on orthopedic injuries and offer a range of treatments, from conservative to cutting-edge. Learn more about how we manage orthopedic pain, and then contact us to schedule an evaluation.

When to Contact an Orthopedic Specialist

If you suffer an acute orthopedic injury while playing a sport, exercising, or in a traumatic accident such as a car crash, you should see a doctor as soon as possible. For pain that develops over time, the following are indications that you should see a doctor:

  • The pain or discomfort keeps you from performing normal daily activities.
  • Your range of motion has decreased.
  • You are wobbly or unsteady when you stand or walk.
  • A soft tissue injury has not improved after 48 hours.
  • You have pain that has lasted longer than 12 weeks.

There are numerous causes of orthopedic pain, including injuries, overuse, degenerative conditions, infections, and underlying diseases.

Treatment for Orthopedic Pain

Depending on the cause and severity of your pain, our orthopedic doctors have several options for treatment. After an exam and diagnostic testing, your doctor might recommend one or more of the following treatment options:

  • RICE. This acronym stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. RICE is recommended as the first course of action for most minor orthopedic injuries.
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers. These include ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Most doctors will recommend starting with OTC medications, but they should not be used indefinitely.
  • Prescription medications. Your orthopedist might prescribe higher-dosage pain relievers, anti-inflammatories, corticosteroid and anesthetic injections, or skeletal muscle relaxers, particularly if you have chronic pain.
  • Physical therapy. Movement therapy can help strengthen the muscles and joints, while activity modifications can be effectively used to control pain and induce healing.
  • Surgery. While surgery is usually the last course of action, it can provide permanent relief in certain cases. Surgical procedures range from minimally invasive to complete joint replacements.

The orthopedic staff at Northwest Extremity Specialists give you a personalized pain management regimen attuned to your lifestyle.

Managing Chronic Orthopedic Pain

Acute pain is typically related to an injury or condition. It is often sharp, intense, and short-lived. Causes include fractures, dislocations, hernias, sprains, and strains. This pain is treated through rest, cold packs, and over-the-counter medications.

Chronic pain is described as pain that lasts for more than three months. This type of pain does not usually improve with treatment. It is pain that starts slowly but continually gets worse over time. Most often, chronic pain is due to aging, genetic factors, or overuse.

Common causes of chronic orthopedic pain that we treat in our offices include:

  • Arthritis causing inflammation in the joints, triggering pain and stiffness
  • Bursitis causing inflammation in the bursae, the fluid-filled sacs that cushion the joints
  • Muscle strain, herniated discs, and degenerative discs of the lower back, keeping you from doing daily activities
  • Nerve damage resulting in numbness or tingling and stinging pain
  • Old injuries that have not healed or healed improperly

At Northwest Extremity Specialists, we offer innovative therapies and advanced surgical techniques that provide you with the most effective outcomes possible. Pain is an indication that something is wrong, so you should not ignore it. Whether you are suffering from acute or chronic orthopedic pain, reach out to one of our Portland-area offices for help.

Dr. Alex Friedman
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