Which doctor should I see?
December 2, 2017 1:30 AM   Subscribe

I'm experiencing pain in different body parts and am not sure why and what I should do about it. I know you're not my doctors, but I'm not sure which doctor I should see!

First things first, I'm 28, female, currently in Japan (language is not a problem) and take three different medications, one thyroid hormone pill in the morning, a progesterone-only pill due to endometriosis, and a low-dose anti-depressant (SNRI, I think) at night so I can sleep. I'm also in grad school and co-pay for medical care is 30% of the bill, so I'd like to see the right person right away.

In June, my left foot started to hurt around the inner part of the ankle, especially when walking. I didn't bother seeing a doctor because I had similar issues before and they went away after a while. I guess I'm someone who hurts her ankles easily, not sure why. Unfortunately, I am still dealing with the issue. It goes away for a few days or weeks (I went to a wedding in September and after a night of dancing in high heels, my ankle didn't hurt for three days!) and then comes back. Weather does not seem to play a role.

I arrived at a point where I considered seeing a doctor, but before I could research the best one to see in Tokyo (I never see doctors I haven't researched anymore, I've had too many bad experiences), the pain kind of started to spread. At first it was the lower left leg, so I thought maybe the achilles tendon was the problem. (Both my brothers do sports quite a bit and both said that's what it had to be, but they're not doctors, obviously, and have misdiagnosed me horribly before.) Then it started to turn into a kind of tearing pain all the way up to the buttocks. It's not extremely painful, I can still walk, but I want to get rid of it nonetheless!

Sometimes, like today, the pain goes even higher. Of course it could be completely unrelated, but on days like today, the left side of my stomach - it doesn't hurt per se, it feels like some constipation is poking into my side, but I'm using the bathroom normally and I take magnesium as well.

I thought maybe it's because this is the side I mostly sleep on, and since I grind my teeth a little, I can get really stiff. My neck hurts on the left side as well, and I have a pulsating headache behind my left eye today, which went away after one ibuprofen. This could obviously be caused by the aforementioned grinding, stress, or my anti-depressant which has headaches in the common side effects warnings. It also lists joint and muscle pains for rarer side effects, but I do have to wonder why only the left side would be affected and why it comes and goes?

As I said, most days the pain is really minor, although my left ankle can hurt quite a bit, but I'm starting to worry if things could get worse. If I decide to consult a doctor about this, what kind of specialist should I look for?
I don't want to experiment with going off the anti-depressant in the middle of the semester if I can avoid it.

Thank you very much in advance!!
posted by LoonyLovegood to Health & Fitness (9 answers total)
If it were me, I'd go as soon as you can, not if it gets worse! It already sounds bad.

What doctors do you already go to? Do any of them sound like a half feasible place to go for this, and/or do you go to a hospital at all? If so, I'd go there. If they have to bounce you somewhere else you can ask for a recommendation or just go to the right place within the hospital.

I've played "guess the specialty doctor I should go to" game here, and I was wrong and ended up being referred to another kind of doctor. (Thought I had an ENT doctor problem, and it was actually a thyroid problem) That's bound to happen though, because we are not doctors and don't know what's wrong.

Google says you should go to 整形外科or 内科 for foot pain, maybe start there?

Take care!!
posted by sacchan at 2:27 AM on December 2, 2017

To me this sounds like a general practitioner issue in the states, though in Japan it could be different.

When you compensate for ankle, foot, knee or hip pain, you throw off your whole body alignment and it is super common for the pain to travel because you are over using other joints to handle that it hurts on one. It can also cause back pain. Fix the problem with where you are compensating, the rest will work itself out.

It could be as easy of an issue that you just need more supportive shoes, wear heels with less height or better ankle support.
posted by AlexiaSky at 5:52 AM on December 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

Pain radiating all the way up one leg and into the abdominal region sounds like it might be a nerve in your back. As mentioned above, that could have been initiated originally by alignment stuff after a foot problem, so maybe you have both.
posted by space snail at 6:33 AM on December 2, 2017 [4 favorites]

An orthopedic doctor or Japanese equivalent
posted by SyraCarol at 7:31 AM on December 2, 2017

I would go to your primary care physician. I think they can evaluate these issues, but if not, they will know which specialist to refer you to. I don't know how healthcare works in Japan, but my primary care physician is actually technically an internist and I think they are considered good general doctor's, so an internist could be a good choice.
posted by AppleTurnover at 11:20 AM on December 2, 2017

I went through this in grad school. It started with pain in my ankles and the soles of my feet whilst walking. Long story short: I was diagnosed with Joint Hyoermobility Syndrome/Ehlers Danlos Syndrome - Hypermobility type. Worth asking your doctor about it. I suffered for years before I got a diagnosis. I really hope you feel better soon. Feel free to memail me.
posted by dostoevskygirl at 5:37 PM on December 2, 2017

This is why general practitioners exist.
posted by chiquitita at 5:44 PM on December 2, 2017

Thank you, everyone! Unfortunately, I don't have any doctor here whom I see regularly. I brought all my meds from Germany and even those are all from specialists (endocrinology, gynecology, pychiatry), and they don't really have a primary care physician system here. Big hospitals mean bigger fees and long wait times, and our university's health care center is a joke.

My husband mentioned a neurologist, and I guess inner medicine may also work.

For the record, I don't usually wear high heels, I just mentioned wearing them to the wedding because I was so surprised that the pain was gone for a bit afterwards, when I had expected it to get worse.
posted by LoonyLovegood at 7:33 PM on December 2, 2017

After you said "thyroid", and mysterious pains, I want to suggest an endocrinologist. It's all voodoo to me, but a good one can work wonders.
posted by cmiller at 10:13 AM on December 3, 2017

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