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Pharmacy and Medications

Joint Pain

12/14/2010

Question:

I have two questions:

1) What type of specialist deals with joint pain and arthritis?

2) I`ve been on psychiatric drugs for 15 years and the last 10 years I`ve been getting joint pain which has been getting progressively worse. Is it possible that my joint pain is related to the drugs I`m on since X-rays are really not picking up any arthritis? I have pain in ALL my joints in my hands (wrists,fingers,thumbs); in my knees; my toes.

Answer:

The type of specialist dealing with joint pain and arthritis may depend on the cause. For osteoarthritis, or degeneration of the joint over time, a general practitioner or orthopedist would be appropriate. For rheumatoid arthritis, or arthritis that is caused by the immune system, an immunologist can often help. 
 
Without knowing your exact drug regimen, it is impossible for me to say for sure that a drug may or may not be causing the pain. Some drugs have reactions that can present similar to other chronic conditions, including some that affect the immune system. These reactions are rare, but they are possible. However, I also do not know your age. It is possible that the onset of the joint pain is unrelated to any medication and has to do with the type of degeneration associated with osteoarthritis. It sounds like you’ve discussed this with at least one physician if you’ve had X-rays taken. 

I recommend that you discuss the joint pain with the physician prescribing the psychiatric drugs and with your local pharmacist. They both know your medical history and your current medications well enough to help give you a more definitive answer. I also recommend that you discuss this with your primary care physician who may be able to give you a referral to an orthopedist or other specialist to help with further diagnosis.

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Response by:

Michael  Ganio, PharmD Michael Ganio, PharmD
Clinical Applications Pharmacist
Wexner Medical Center
The Ohio State University