To doctor or not to doctor?
April 2, 2014 7:06 AM   Subscribe

Approximately two weeks ago (I think) I was out in the woods and was possibly bitten by something on the knuckle of my ring finger. The next day the spot ached in the joint, but no other symptoms. Over the last few days, though, the pain has returned and worsened, and now it appears to be getting puffy. Should I go see a medical professional about this?

I was out in the woods at night in Ohio and felt a sudden intense itchiness while wearing a thin glove. I took off the glove to notice a tiny droplet of blood in that spot. I thought nothing much of it till the next day, when the joint ached there. I assumed I'd been bitten by a spider or something, and worried about it for a day or so, but when the pain went away the following day I forgot about it.

About, oh, five days ago the knuckle started aching again, and the hand has felt weak in that spot. I just woke up with the joint aching much more, and the back of my hand is puffy in this area. No rash or bruising.

Should I go to the doc?

The reason I'm even asking this question is because there are so many gray areas. I didn't see anything bite me. For all I know I poked my knuckle on a thorn. I was wearing a thin work glove--can something bite through that? I have no other symptoms (other than a deep weariness, but that's my default setting). What if I just bruised or sprained the hand recently? Why did it stop aching and then start aching again? I don't know if I'm connecting two things that aren't related (tiny spot of blood on hand in woods, puffy hand two weeks later).

Other complicating factors that make me not want to go: I have a bunch of stuff to do at work today, I am between doctors (my previous Dr. moved away and haven't found a new one), money.

Thanks for advising this internet stranger on medical matters!
posted by whistle pig to Health & Fitness (13 answers total)
I would definitely go to the doctor.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 7:10 AM on April 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

Regardless of what caused you to have a wound, the puffiness and increased pain could be a developing cellulitis (skin infection). Initially it hurt because you injured it, now it might hurt because it's infected. Yes - see someone about it. Your hand is important. IANYD.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 7:12 AM on April 2, 2014 [17 favorites]

The vast majority of "spider bites" are caused by something else, research shows. One study Vetter cited found that of 182 Southern California patients seeking treatment for spider bites, only 3.8 percent had actual spider bites, while 85.7 percent had infections.

And a national study found that nearly 30 percent of people with skin lesions who said they had a spider bite actually had methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections. Other things that can cause symptoms that mimic spider bites include biting fleas or bedbugs, allergies, poison oak and poison ivy, besides various viral and bacterial infections, Vetter said.
Seeing a Doctor would be a very good idea.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:13 AM on April 2, 2014

IANAMD, but thirding that this sounds like some kind of infection and that a doctor will need to take a look.
posted by kewb at 7:14 AM on April 2, 2014

Also - This is the type of thing an urgent care can handle.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 7:14 AM on April 2, 2014 [8 favorites]

Any time pain gets worse over the course of a handful of days is a time you go to a doctor. Get thee to a medical professional today.
posted by royalsong at 7:14 AM on April 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

Came here to also say you should go see a doctor. Is there any redness or is it warm to the touch? These could also be signs of infection.
posted by random thoughts at 7:15 AM on April 2, 2014

Yes, go to the doctor. I had a bite swell up a few days after the fact and it required a lot of antibiotics (including a shot in the butt!) to get rid of. You don't want to mess around with this stuff.
posted by something something at 7:21 AM on April 2, 2014

My rule is go to the doctor if it's getting worse and not better. So, yep, you should go.
posted by dawkins_7 at 7:29 AM on April 2, 2014

Your GP or urgent care should be fine for this, you may be having an allergic reaction to whateveer caused your boo-boo. Or you may have an infection. Both are easily treated in a standard doctors office.

No need to head for the ER, that would be overkill.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:31 AM on April 2, 2014

Thank you everyone. I'm headed to the doctor.
posted by whistle pig at 8:25 AM on April 2, 2014 [4 favorites]

Good! Possible infections are nothing to mess with.
posted by ocherdraco at 8:28 AM on April 2, 2014

Something else to keep in mind: "Lyme disease big risk in Ohio"

Not sure when tick season starts in your area but I already pulled one off my dog a couple weeks ago here in Virginia.

Lyme disease is NOT FUN (I've had it) so if they offer you antibiotics TAKE THEM ALL.
posted by Jacqueline at 2:10 PM on April 2, 2014

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