You'll probably first bring your concerns to the attention of your family doctor. He or she may refer you to a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of joint disorders (rheumatologist).
Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment and what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
- List any symptoms you've been having and for how long.
- Write down your key medical information, including other conditions with which you've been diagnosed, all medications and supplements you're taking, and any family history of bone or joint disease.
- Note any recent injuries that may have damaged a joint.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor. Creating your list of questions in advance can help you make the most of your time with your doctor.
Below are some basic questions to ask a doctor who is examining you for joint problems. If any additional questions occur to you during your visit, don't hesitate to ask.
- What is the most likely cause of my signs and symptoms?
- Are there any other possible causes?
- What tests do I need to confirm a diagnosis?
- What treatment approach do you recommend, if any?
- How much do you expect my symptoms will improve with treatment?
- If you're recommending medications, are there any possible side effects?
- Is surgery an option in my case? Why or why not?
- What self-care measures can I take to help manage symptoms?
- How often will you see me to monitor my progress?
- Should I see a specialist?
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 talk about in-depth. Your doctor may ask:
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- What are your symptoms?
- When did you first notice these symptoms?
- How severe is your pain?
- Are you having trouble moving the affected joint or joints?
- Are your symptoms affecting your ability to complete daily tasks?
- Have you recently had any injuries that may have caused joint damage?
- Have you tried any at-home treatments so far? If so, has anything helped?
- Have you been diagnosed with any other medical conditions?
- What medications are you currently taking, including vitamins and supplements?
- What is your typical exercise routine?
- Do any of your first-degree relatives — such as a parent or sibling — have a history of bone disorders?
- Kalunian KC. Clinical manifestations of osteoarthritis. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Dec. 22, 2011.
- Di Cesare PE, et al. Pathogenesis of osteoarthritis. In: Firestein GS, et al. Kelley's Textbook of Rheumatology. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2009. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/208746819-6/0/1807/0.html. Accessed Dec. 22, 2011.
- Questions and answers about spinal stenosis. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Spinal_Stenosis. Accessed Dec. 22, 2011.
- Mader R. Proliferative bone diseases. In: Firestein GS, et al. Kelley's Textbook of Rheumatology. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2009. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/208746819-6/0/1807/0.html. Accessed Dec. 22, 2011.
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