When to see a doctor

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Joint pain is rarely an emergency. Most cases of mild joint pain can be successfully managed at home.

Make an appointment with your doctor if your joint pain is accompanied by:

  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Tenderness and warmth around the joint

See a doctor immediately if your joint pain is caused by an injury and is accompanied by:

  • Joint deformity
  • Inability to use the joint
  • Intense pain
  • Sudden swelling


When caring for mild joint pain at home, follow these tips:

  • Try an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or naproxen sodium (Aleve).
  • Avoid using your joint in ways that cause or worsen pain.
  • Apply ice or a package of frozen peas to your painful joint for 15 to 20 minutes a few times each day.
  • Apply a heating pad, soak in a warm tub or take a warm shower to relax muscles and increase circulation.
Jan. 11, 2019

See also

  1. 6 tips to manage rheumatoid arthritis symptoms
  2. Acute hepatitis C infection
  3. Addison's disease
  4. Adjuvant therapy for cancer
  5. Adrenal fatigue: What causes it?
  6. Adult Still's disease
  7. Alternative cancer treatments: 10 options to consider
  8. Arthritis
  9. Arthritis pain: Do's and don'ts
  10. Aspergillosis
  11. Atypical cells: Are they cancer?
  12. Autoimmune hepatitis
  13. Behcet's disease
  14. Biopsy procedures
  15. Bone spurs
  16. Botox injections: Can they relieve arthritis pain?
  17. Giant Cell Myocarditis
  18. Brucellosis
  19. Bursitis
  20. Can arthritis pain medications be harmful?
  21. Cancer
  22. Cancer blood tests
  23. Myths about cancer causes
  24. Infographic: Cancer Clinical Trials Offer Many Benefits
  25. Cancer diagnosis: 11 tips for coping
  26. Cancer diagnosis? Advice for dealing with what comes next
  27. Cancer-related fatigue
  28. Cancer pain: Relief is possible
  29. Cancer risk: What the numbers mean
  30. Cancer surgery
  31. Cancer survival rate
  32. Cancer survivors: Care for your body after treatment
  33. Cancer survivors: Late effects of cancer treatment
  34. Cancer survivors: Managing your emotions after cancer treatment
  35. Cancer survivors: Reconnecting with loved ones after treatment
  36. Cancer treatment decisions: 5 steps to help you decide
  37. Cancer treatment for men: Possible sexual side effects
  38. Cancer treatment for women: Possible sexual side effects
  39. Cancer treatment myths
  40. Cancer Vaccine Research
  41. Celiac disease
  42. Celiac disease: Can gluten be absorbed through the skin?
  43. Celiac disease diet: How do I get enough grains?
  44. Chemotherapy side effects: A cause of heart disease?
  45. Chronic fatigue: Can a natural remedy boost my energy?
  46. Chronic fatigue syndrome
  47. Churg-Strauss syndrome
  48. Complex regional pain syndrome
  49. Coping with side effects of hepatitis C drugs
  50. Curcumin: Can it slow cancer growth?
  51. Dengue fever
  52. Diabetic neuropathy
  53. Diabetic neuropathy and dietary supplements
  54. Types of diabetic neuropathy
  55. Cancer-related diarrhea
  56. Dislocation
  57. Dislocation: First aid
  58. Does stress make rheumatoid arthritis worse?
  59. Drinking after hepatitis C cure: Is it safe?
  60. Early hepatitis C infection: How often does it become chronic?
  61. Early HIV symptoms: What are they?
  62. Ease rheumatoid arthritis pain when grocery shopping
  63. Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE): What is it?
  64. Eating during cancer treatment: Tips to make food tastier
  65. Ebola transmission: Can Ebola spread through the air?
  66. Ebola virus and Marburg virus
  67. Ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis
  68. Encephalitis
  69. Gonorrhea
  70. Granulomatosis with polyangiitis
  71. Heart cancer: Is there such a thing?
  72. Heel spurs: Do they always cause pain?
  73. Hemochromatosis
  74. Hemophilia
  75. Hepatitis B
  76. Hepatitis C
  77. Hepatitis C: How common is sexual transmission?
  78. Hepatitis C: What happens in end-stage liver disease?
  79. High-dose vitamin C: Can it kill cancer cells?
  80. Histoplasmosis
  81. HIV/AIDS
  82. How do I reduce fatigue from rheumatoid arthritis?
  83. Hypercalcemia
  84. Hypothyroidism: Can calcium supplements interfere with treatment?
  85. Hypothyroidism diet
  86. Hypothyroidism and joint pain?
  87. Hypothyroidism: Should I take iodine supplements?
  88. Hypothyroidism symptoms: Can hypothyroidism cause eye problems?
  89. Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)
  90. Is depression a factor in rheumatoid arthritis?
  91. Jellyfish stings
  92. Joint injections
  93. Joint pain: Rheumatoid arthritis or parvovirus?
  94. Juvenile idiopathic arthritis
  95. Kawasaki disease
  96. Liver transplant for hepatitis C
  97. Living better with rheumatoid arthritis
  98. Living with Lupus
  99. Low blood counts
  100. Lupus
  101. Lupus: Can it cause hair loss?
  102. Lupus: Can it cause hives?
  103. Lupus affects kidneys
  104. Lyme disease
  105. Mangosteen juice: Can it relieve arthritis pain?
  106. Mayo Clinic Minute: Will there be a Lyme disease vaccine for humans?
  107. Mixed connective tissue disease
  108. Monoclonal antibody drugs
  109. Mort Crim and Cancer
  110. Mouth sores caused by cancer treatment: How to cope
  111. MSM for arthritis pain: Is it safe?
  112. Myocarditis
  113. New Hep C Treatment
  114. No appetite? How to get nutrition during cancer treatment
  115. Osteoporosis and long-term prednisone: What is the risk?
  116. Palindromic rheumatism: Precursor to rheumatoid arthritis?
  117. Parvovirus infection
  118. Pituitary tumors
  119. Polymyositis
  120. Polymyositis: Can it affect my lungs?
  121. Post-polio syndrome
  122. Premenstrual dysphoric disorder
  123. Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  124. PrEP to prevent HIV
  125. Protect your joints while housecleaning
  126. Pseudogout
  127. Pulmonary fibrosis
  128. Reactive arthritis
  129. Rethinking Rheumatoid Arthritis
  130. Rheumatic fever
  131. Rheumatoid arthritis
  132. Rheumatoid Arthritis
  133. Rheumatoid arthritis: Does pregnancy affect symptoms?
  134. Rheumatoid arthritis and exercise
  135. Rheumatoid arthritis: Vaccines
  136. Rheumatoid arthritis diet
  137. Rheumatoid arthritis: Can it affect the eyes?
  138. Rheumatoid arthritis: Can it affect the lungs?
  139. Rheumatoid arthritis medications: Dangerous during pregnancy?
  140. Rheumatoid arthritis pain: Tips for protecting your joints
  141. Rubella
  142. Sacroiliitis
  143. Salt craving: A symptom of Addison's disease?
  144. Self-Image During Cancer
  145. Septic arthritis
  146. Sjogren's syndrome
  147. Hand exercises for people with arthritis
  148. Joint protection
  149. Radiation simulation
  150. Small cell, large cell cancer: What this means
  151. Soy: Does it worsen hypothyroidism?
  152. Staph infections
  153. Still's Disease
  154. Takayasu's arteritis
  155. Thalidomide: Research advances in cancer and other conditions
  156. Integrative approaches to treating pain
  157. Lifestyle strategies for pain management
  158. Nutrition and pain
  159. Pain rehabilitation
  160. Self-care approaches to treating pain
  161. Treating pain: Conventional medical care
  162. Treating pain: Overview
  163. Understanding pain
  164. Tips for coping with rheumatoid arthritis
  165. Tips to make your mornings easier
  166. Tumor vs. cyst: What's the difference?
  167. Valley fever
  168. Vasculitis
  169. How cancer spreads
  170. PICC line placement
  171. Water exercise
  172. What is the Zika virus, and should I be worried?
  173. When cancer returns: How to cope with cancer recurrence
  174. Why isn't there a hepatitis C vaccine?
  175. Wilson's disease
  176. Wilson's syndrome: An accepted medical diagnosis?
  177. Your secret weapon during cancer treatment? Exercise!
  178. Yucca: Can it relieve arthritis pain?
  179. Zika virus