Preparing for your appointment

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 orthopedic surgeon, infectious disease specialist or joint specialist (rheumatologist).

Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment.

What you can do

When you call to make the appointment, ask if you need to do anything in advance, such as fasting for certain tests. Make a list of:

  • Your symptoms, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment
  • Key personal information, including other medical conditions you have and recent infections
  • Medications, vitamins or supplements you take, including doses
  • Questions to ask your doctor

Take a family member or friend along, if possible, to help you remember information you're given.

For septic arthritis, questions to ask your doctor include:

  • What is likely causing my symptoms?
  • Are there other possible causes?
  • What tests do I need?
  • Is my condition likely temporary or chronic?
  • What's the best course of action?
  • Are there alternatives to the approach you're suggesting?
  • How soon can I expect my symptoms to improve with treatment?
  • What can I do in the meantime to help relieve my joint pain?
  • Am I at risk of long-term complications from this condition?
  • How can I best manage this condition with my other health problems?
  • Should I see a specialist?
  • Are there brochures or other printed material that I can take? What websites do you recommend?

Don't hesitate to ask other questions.

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor is likely to ask you questions, such as:

  • When did your symptoms begin?
  • 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 ever had joint surgery or joint replacement?
  • Do you use recreational drugs?
Dec. 19, 2015
  1. Goldenberg DL, et al. Septic arthritis in adults. Accessed Oct. 26, 2015.
  2. Imboden JB, et al. Septic arthritis. In: Current Rheumatology Diagnosis & Treatment. 3rd ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2013. Accessed Oct. 25, 2015.
  3. Krogstad P. Bacterial arthritis: Clinical features and diagnosis in infants and children. Accessed Oct. 26, 2015.