August 2008, Volume 27 Number 4 , p 246 - 250
The purpose of this article was to provide a review for orthopaedic nurses and nurse practitioners who evaluate, manage, and care for patients with joint pain. Joint pain is a common complaint evaluated by primary care providers. The causation of joint pain is complicated to identify because of an extensive range of differential diagnosis. The history and physical examination are crucial components in evaluating and managing joint pain. The primary care provider uses clinical factors such as patient demographics, presence of inflammation, acute/chronic duration, extra-articular manifestations, pattern of joint involvement, and disease chronology. Many rheumatologic laboratory tests are nonspecific, but aspiration of the joint with synovial fluid analysis may provide diagnostic clues, especially to differentiate infection versus inflammation. Primary care providers utilize both pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic regimens to manage acute and chronic joint pain.