An acute injury seldom leaves room to wonder about seeing a doctor. You know that you suffered an injury, it really hurts, and so you seek medical care.
Many other types of pain, however, leave you guessing and asking questions. When does lingering pain demand medical care? When should my pain go away? What type of doctor should I see if I haven’t suffered an injury?
The team at Prolete Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine can help with all those concerns and you can consult them without needing a referral. You have direct access to their extensive services and experiences — you only need to call and schedule an appointment.
Physical therapists are extensively trained and fully qualified to screen for, evaluate, and treat your pain. When you come to our office, you can learn the cause of your pain, receive physical therapy to alleviate your symptoms, and get a referral to the appropriate specialist when necessary.
If you have any questions about pain, don’t hesitate to call. In the meantime, here are a few tips to help you decide when to see a doctor for your pain.
Consider different pain perceptions
Everyone has a different experience when it comes to pain. Some are highly tolerant, while others are more sensitive. Why does it matter? Because the way you perceive pain may not accurately reflect the severity of the problem causing your pain.
Both ways of perceiving pain have an impact on deciding when to see a doctor. If you can handle a lot of pain, you may not see a doctor even when you have an injury or condition that’s getting worse.
If you’re intensely sensitive to pain, you still may decide to avoid the doctor because you figure the underlying problem can’t be that bad.
In both cases, you need to rely on other ways to decide when your ongoing pain needs medical attention.
Red flags tell you to get medical care
Pain that comes with a fever is always a concern that needs the attention of a doctor. You should also schedule an appointment when you have:
- Pain that’s constant
- Pain that gets worse
- Difficulty sleeping due to pain
- Signs of an infection, like fever, redness, and swelling
- Leg pain during exercise that improves with rest
- Neurological symptoms
Neurological symptoms, or signs of damaged nerves, are a big red flag. Classic symptoms of nerve involvement include pain, tingling, and numbness that appear in your hands and feet or that travel down your arms or legs.
You may also develop muscle weakness or atrophy if you have damaged nerves. A change in your bladder or bowel habits, like having a hard time urinating, is a sign that you need immediate care due to advanced nerve damage.
Symptoms can guide your decision
The conditions that cause pain and that need a doctor’s attention often result in other symptoms. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Pain when moving or while at rest
- Joint instability
- Limited range of motion
- Inability to use the affected limb
If you have one or more of these symptoms, it’s a good sign that you should see a doctor. If you stay active and continue using the affected body part, you can cause progressive damage that’s harder to heal.
Pain duration makes a difference
Most muscular and soft tissue injuries improve in a few days to several weeks with self-care measures. It’s time to schedule an evaluation when your pain doesn’t start to feel better in 2-4 weeks, lasts longer than four weeks, or gets progressively worse.
Chronic pain always needs help
Chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts after your injury heals or lingers longer than 3-6 months. This type of pain isn’t going away on its own and the longer you suffer without relief, the more likely you are to develop pain hypersensitivity and long-term disability.
Chronic pain is notoriously hard to treat, but physical therapy is one of the most successful treatment options. The modalities used during physical therapy promote strength, boost circulation, improve movement and function, accelerate healing, and relieve your ongoing pain.
If you have questions about lingering pain or would like to schedule an appointment, call our office in Milford, Connecticut, or use the online booking feature today.