Preparing for your appointment

By Mayo Clinic Staff

If you have painful and inflamed joints, you're likely to start by seeing your family doctor. He or she may refer you to an infectious disease or joint specialist.

Because appointments can be brief and because there's often a lot of ground to cover, it's a good idea to be well prepared for your appointment. Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and what to expect from your doctor.

What you can do

  • Write down any symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
  • Write down key personal information, including other medical conditions you may have and any recent infections.
  • Make a list of all medications, as well as any vitamins or supplements, that you're taking.
  • Take a family member or friend along, if possible. Someone who accompanies you may remember something that you missed or forgot.
  • Write down questions to ask your doctor.

List your questions from most important to least important in case time runs out. For septic arthritis, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:

  • What is likely causing my symptoms or condition?
  • Are there any other possible causes?
  • Do I need any tests to confirm the diagnosis?
  • What treatment approach do you recommend?
  • How soon do you expect my symptoms to improve with treatment?
  • Is there anything I can do now to help relieve my joint pain?
  • Am I at risk of long-term complications from this condition?
  • When should I be seen for a follow-up exam?
  • I have these other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
  • Should I see a specialist?
  • Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me? What websites do you recommend visiting?

In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask questions during your appointment.

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may reserve time to go over any points you want to spend more time on. Your doctor may ask:

  • What are your symptoms, and when did you first notice them?
  • Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
  • How severe are your symptoms?
  • What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?
  • What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?
  • Have you had any recent infections?
  • Do you have any chronic illnesses?
  • What medications are you currently taking, including vitamins and supplements?
  • Have you ever had joint surgery or joint replacement?
  • Do you use recreational drugs?
Jan. 17, 2013