Active individuals – especially baby boomers – are accustomed to some minor aches and pains, but sometimes minor damage can turn serious if it’s ignored for too long. So how do you know when it’s ok to manage pain at home and when you need to high-tail it to the doctor’s office?
There are some good rules of thumb. For instance, if an injury causes excruciating, unrelenting pain, or forces you to stop your activity you need to see a specialist right away. Anything that prevents normal motion, like a swollen elbow or weak knee that won’t support body weight, should be treated immediately.
As for more general injuries; there is a wide range of aches and pains that have to be sorted out. A “wait and see” method can be helpful for more common, activity-related hurts. If things start to improve over two or three days then you probably don’t have to visit your doctor. But if pain, swelling, or range of motion don’t improve with time-off and heat then you should schedule an appointment to follow-up.