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Joint and Muscle Pain: When RICE Is Not Enough

Matthew, an avid tennis player, was serving in a mixed doubles match. His first serve went long and he tapped a blooper in. The other side hit a strong return and it slipped past his partner at net and went into the alley, just inside the doubles line. Matthew lunged laterally and felt his knee pop. He managed to walk off the court and spent the evening icing his knee. Three weeks later the swelling had not gone down.

Rachel’s left knee had bothered her since a skiing accident in high school. The pain was episodic, but when the clicking and popping sounds became a constant and stairs painful, she decided to speak with her doctor.

Sarah had suffered intermittent discomfort and stiffness in her lower back for a few years until she found yoga. One day, at the end of a class she attempted a gentle twist from a seated position. She felt a sharp pain radiate down her left hip until it culminated in a sensation of pins and needles in her left heel.

All of these sufferers might have been spared pain and inconvenience if they had just known what to do.

The standard advice for joint and soft tissue pain, summarized by the acronym RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation,) is still sound, but what next if home remedies aren’t fixing the problem?

The Mayo Clinic advises patients to schedule a doctor’s appointment immediately if the pain is the result of injury, if there was a popping noise during the accident, if the onset of swelling is rapid, or if the patient is unable to bear weight on the injured limb.

Chronic joint pain, which afflicts more than 30 percent of adults according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, also calls for a visit to the doctor. Pain can be caused by osteoarthritis, injury, prolonged abnormal posture, or repetitive motion.

An accurate diagnosis is the first step in treatment, and the first step to an accurate diagnosis is getting a clear picture of what’s going on beneath your skin. That’s where medical diagnostic imaging comes in. High-quality medical imaging requires state-of-the art equipment, highly-trained technologists, and subspecialty radiologists.

PENRAD Imaging has been a leading provider of medical imaging in the Colorado Springs area for more than 30 years.

PENRAD Imaging has six convenient locations throughout Colorado Springs equipped with the latest imaging technology, caring staff, and fellowship-trained radiologists ready to serve you. Imaging allows doctors to accurately pinpoint and treat rapid onset, recurring or chronic musculoskeletal pain by diagnosing the source of the pain.

Is it a sprain or strain? Fracture? Arthritis? Bursitis? The two most common types of imaging for musculoskeletal pain are x-ray and MRIs.

An x-ray is picture produced by passing electromagnetic radiation through the body.

MRI or Magnetic Resonance Imaging also produces images of the body but uses a powerful magnetic field, radio waves and computers to produce the images and is especially useful in soft tissue diagnoses.

Armed with an accurate image of your body, your doctor can then lay out a course of treatment, whether it involves medication, physical therapy, or surgery--and get you back on the court, on the slopes, or on the yoga mat.

When it comes to returning to an active, pain-free life, a picture really is worth a thousand words.


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