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Should You See a Doctor?
 
Occasional joint pain or discomfort doesn't usually require medical treatment, but unusual pain that doesn't go away or that gets worse rather than better should not be ignored. Make an appointment with your doctor if you experience any of the following for more than a couple of weeks:
  • Morning joint stiffness that lasts more than 30 minutes to an hour after getting out of bed
  • Pain, stiffness or swelling in three or more joints
  • Symmetrical joint pain (i.e., the same joints on both sides of the body are affected)
  • Low-grade fever and fatigue
Try to get an appointment as soon as possible—ideally, within a week—to find out what's causing your pain. Time is of the essence because if it is RA, early treatment offers the best chance of slowing or even stopping the disease.

If your primary care physician can't see you within a week, consider making an appointment directly with a rheumatologist. Ask your doctor for a referral or find a rheumatologist yourself with this list from the American College of Rheumatology.

Tip: Some hospitals and medical centers run dedicated arthritis centers or early arthritis centers. Contact your local hospitals and ask if they operate—or know of—any programs like these.

What are the best ways to manage RA?

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